Arbor Vitae, Arbor Letum

{Alternate Title for Photos: My (Adult) Life in Trees}

Have you ever been asked the question, “If you had to choose between living near the ocean or the mountains, which would you pick?”  I have been asked this question numerous times, and I always have the same answer.  Both mountains and oceans are amazing.  They inspire a humbling type of awe that is hard to match.  However, I know (from growing up near neither) that I can live without them near me.  I do need forests.  I need trees.  I need the leaves, the needles, the understory and the animals that depend on forest ecology to survive.

Avalanche Lake, MT, ca. 2010

Avalanche Lake, MT, ca. 2010

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  1. Karin says:

    I love your post. I am still working on the splitting wood thing. I always shut my eyes.. You give me hope.

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      You can do it Karin! I like to think about it like swinging a bat–there are many similarities. Keep your eye on the log!

  2. Kristy says:

    The area around the Great Lakes has been troubled by the Emerald Ash Borer for many years, resulting in the destruction of many trees. Last year an Ash only a block away had to be cut down and burned. There is an Ash in my yard which I have been checking anxiously every few days all summer. I love that tree and pray for it. I feel sort of like a Lorax at that. The trouble is that the infected trees cannot be used as firewood and some municipalities require that the tree be ground into sawdust. What a waste.

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      That Emerald Ash Borer has been wreaking havoc forever! I remember the dreaded days when city workers would come and mark ash trees with the dreaded orange tape–Cut this tree down, it’s infected. I hope your tree has enough love and defenses to fend off any trouble.

  3. Deborah says:

    Good morning Alex,

    What a beautiful post. There are so many things I would like to comment on that you wrote, that I don’t know where to begin. First about the daily routines that you are going through raising a family and the daily chores that come with it. I have two boys and I had them while I was working at a very stressful job with one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the country. I do CSI in a forensic laboratory and have done so for over 26 years now. (Hopefully retiring to Montana very soon) And I remember going out to numerous crimes scenes in the worst neighborhoods and processing them. After I was done and had packaged up all the evidence, coming back to the laboratory, going over all the photographs, making sure I had gotten everything I needed, writing up the field notes, etc.. I could not wait to get back home and do all the “daily” chores that keeping a home requires. I could have had the most worst day with my two boys at home that I would never trade for the best day at work. Being at home grounded me against all the craziness I saw in the world. And nothing at home would ever be as stressful as one day at work. I loved doing all those chores at home. And yes I would love to chop wood any day. It is a stress relief. It is good work, healthy and rewarding in the simplest and deepest of terms. I guess I saw both worlds, those of the work force and the life of a parent at home. I have to say, I would chose the life of a parent at home. This is the most rewarding. Your analogy of the life of a tree is so much like the life of us… (Note: I have also felt the same way when reading, “The Giving Tree” to my boys to).

    There are no words that I can say here regarding your article that come close to how your article made me feel this morning. Just amazing!!!


    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      Thank you, Deborah! Your words are encouraging–you are right, most days I am SO VERY thankful that I am able to be home with my cute little baby. It is grounding and rewarding, as you mention. Your job sounds very intense! As a high school student I had a few lingering thoughts of becoming a forensic dentist (who knows, maybe that will still happen some day!)…So your career intrigues me. I hope you get to retire to Montana, soon!

  4. Emma says:

    I love seeing Alex-in-trees over the years! How lucky for little Ava that she has a mama who will teach her all these things that aren’t “girly.” What a great post!

  5. Linda Wigington says:

    One of my favorite photos which was on a postcard, is an old-time lady in a long, dark dress, out in front of an old farmhouse. She has an axe held high, which is taller than she is, and is splitting wood! The caption is, “Frailty, thy name is woman” supposedly by William Shakespeare. I,too, love trees, and when the forest behind my house was being clear-cut for pasture, I rode my horse there for the last time on the needle-covered roadbed under the tall, beautiful pines, and apologized… After it was over, I felt as if I were on the moon, and seldom went back there. Not much later, I moved away. But that is an experience I will never forget. “Progress” is often painful. I loved your “tree” pictures and enjoy your stories of your life in Alaska. Thank you.

  6. Barb says:

    I love splitting wood…it is such a satisfying skill. My favorite tool is and 8 lb maul, as a lot of the wood we get is gnarled. I give thanks to trees as I do to all the natural things that sustain us…that I won’t take their use for granted, that I will work hard for beyond-sustainable, that their life has value beyond what they can do for us. Every life is precious even though we use some of them to survive.

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For Everything There is a Season

{Warning  Warning  Warning: The following post may contain offensive amounts of cliched phrases.  If idioms drive you crazier than watching political ads, then you might as well make like a tree and leave right now!}

Fall is the best season for reading a good book.  In particular, it is the best season for reading fiction.  As we head into the dead of winter, the opportunity to cuddle up with a good book and some tea on an overstuffed chair shouldn’t be passed over.  In our neck of the woods, the growing season has been over for several weeks; and I had the opportunity to concentrate on some house projects and read a whole book.  This may not sound like a lot, but I feel very accomplished!

Halloween fun.  Ava was an aerobics instructor,  I made a feeble attempt to be a 60s housewife.

Halloween fun. Ava was an aerobics instructor, I made a feeble attempt to be a 60s housewife.


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  1. Alex, I LOVED THIS POST!!!! 🙂 It made me smile through the whole thing. It also made me want to go get that book – like right now. I’m headed to New Mexico for a month with my folks, think maybe this book just might be the ticket while I’m there. Well, I better run. I’m “busier than a one armed paper hanger”! 🙂 – Dori, Ranch Farmgirl –

    P.S. That darling baby of yours? I could just squeeze her.

  2. I related to your post like a duck to water! Hope you stay warm this winter and keep writing your blog. It’s enjoyable to read and keeps me motivated as a writer myself.

  3. bonnie b says:

    Goodness! I don’t think I have been privy to that many cliches in one article ever. Laughed most of the way through it and want to commend you on a great job.

    Ava is certainly growing and she was always cute, but, hey, she may be getting cuter!
    lol Moms are always biased. I always enjoy seeing her pictures.

  4. Karin says:

    Thank you. Ava is indeed becoming cuter. “Cuterr than abug’s ear” You are so nice to share her with me thru photos. I have the book on my reader but have not settled in to start it yet. Love your review and hopefully I will get thru it this winter. In Missouri, I am preparing for winter. This is the time when one day, it is warm and the next freezing. Hey In Missouri it is that way any time of the year… With the addition of a new foal and 3 other new horses, I am getting heaters in extra water tanks and double checking my hay count.. “better late than never” or “in the nick of time” depending on which side of the fence you are on. Shelters are ready. The foal, Pickles, is checkin the fences daily to make sure I did not leave anything loose. Pickles is concerned about my health and makes sure that I get my daily hike in the woods while we play hide and seek after making sure she tramples the fence flat. Take care and snuggle in this winter…..

  5. Therese says:

    Precious baby!!! Little sweetheart!! Love the aerobics instructor outfit!

  6. Deb Bosworth says:

    Alex, thank you for this article on the defense of using ( or over-using ) cliches. Loved it! I’m afraid I’m guilty of using idioms in my writing most of the time! It’s also the way I talk and I had no idea I did this until I was interviews by a writer for an article this past summer. She swore I had her talking in idioms by the end of our afternoon together! Ava IS growing like a weed and oh so adorable…We won’t have to worry about your little family this winter. You’ll be snug as a bug in your yurt! xo Deb

  7. Deb Bosworth says:

    Snug as a bug in a rug, that is!!!
    xo Deb

  8. Maureen Griffin says:

    This post is all fun and games – it really floats my boat. When you got this bee in your bonnet you opened a can of worms and I have to put in my two cents worth.

    Help! I can’t stop!

    Love to my babes in the woods of AK. Have a nice day!

    Grandma Mickie

    **Have a

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