Tuesday, June 21, 2016


The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
Alice: I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.  

Willow would be your favorite. If we are a forest, she is the sky. Her soul is too big to be contained. It cannot help but to burst forth, scattering the stars. They say that artists are driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide. Willow is an artist. Her art is a house striving to be haunted. She is the voice of sanity in a world that has gone insane. She is my greatest piece. 

We all have the choice of living a life of active happiness or a life of introspective sadness. She is the bouncy ball that she played with endlessly as a child, bouncing back and forth, living in the in-between, nestled in the madness. She is my nextdoor neighbor. Alice and the Mad Hatter. 

Music speaks to her. It is her first language. She hears in notes. And where most people see with their eyes, she sees with her heart. When you are the sky nothing gets past you. 

Unfortunately the universe requires us to have equal parts darkness and light. She is the stars in the desert sky. She is the darkness before the dawn. And, like God, she will spend her life balancing her universe: the stars and the sky, joy and suffering, life and death. 

She believes in hell. She knows of its existence because she has been there. I have seen her struggle her way to the surface, gasping for air, fighting off demons with words and a paintbrush. They whisper in her ear. They grab at her ankles. I have held her as they tried to carry her away. I believe in hell. 

I believe in her.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pine: II

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
Alice: ...So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

 ~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

School was my nemesis. And every weekday morning, I was forced to look it in the eye. 

If I had lived within the pages of an Arthur Conan Doyle novel, school would have been my Professor Moriarty,"Motionless, like a spider at the center of a web." I was Othello, school was Iago, hellbent on the destruction of my 8 year old soul. If I had lived in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, school would have taken on the character of O'Brien, "One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship." Elementary school made the revolution and I became the brave revolutionist.When the teacher excused us for recess I ran like a felon fleeing the scene of a crime. I tried to rally my fellow comrades but they were weaklings who coward in the face of our dictators.

In the immortal words of one of my favorite humans to ever live on this pale blue dot, "Resist much, obey little." 

During my tenure as a juvenile delinquent I attended more schools than I can remember, they were all the same though, little boxes on the hillside. They came at me like an invading army trying to infiltrate the walls of my mind, walls that I had been building since birth, diligently stacking stone and mortar. They came at me with flickering florescent lights, raucous bells, absurd rules and work that I believed to be completely inconsequential. Dick and Jane have killed the brain cells of millions of children. 

My fellow cell mates rarely offered any reprieve.  As a matter of fact, if these were children then I was something else entirely. A displaced species. An alien, equipped with Strawberry Shortcake glasses, a field guide to insects and my stuffed Ewok. I was a spy. A finder of patterns and a collector of connections. Small ones lead to big ones, and big ones lead to small ones. I learned that from the universe. It is present in everything I see. We are trees.

The number of neurons in our brain are tied to the number of trees on the Earth. Neurons are trees. The axons, the sturdy trunk. The dendrites, which come from the Greek word Dendron, meaning tree, are the branches. The number of synapses in a neuron are bound to the number of branches on a tree.  Neurons create forests, their branches nearly touching. The life of every individual neuron is entangled with every other neuron. Trees in a rain forest.

A mystery bursting with clues.

They did not want to discuss this mystery. My conclusions led me to believe that most of them were devoid of even a sliver of logic, creativity or primitive reasoning skills. They had no interest in helping me to investigate this greatest of enigmas, the origins of the universe.

I would lie in bed at night, eyes closed, projected images playing out on the surface of my mind. Watching it all unfold over and over again. Backwards and forwards, what was before and what will come after? Colors swirling, objects colliding.

Ear shattering screams, pushing in lines, the mingling smells of sweat and artificial cheese.

I was terrified of the bathroom. I couldn't go if there was anyone else inside. So I stood in the hall, legs crossed, waiting. But I couldn't hold it any longer. I ran down the hall and out the front doors leaving a trail of shame in my wake. A block away, drenched in urine, I realized that I had no idea how to get home.

I was always packing. Always on the move. Ramshackle red brick buildings, laundry hanging from lines strung between the balconies.  It always smelled like curry.  In the back, there was a hill leading to a river. I made the ironing board into a sled. I rumbled down the hill, gliding into the water. The yellow house. I rode my bike into the garage door. It took two boxes of band-aids. The townhouse in the woods where we caught frogs. The house on a street named Marigold. The side cracked when the earthquake shook us like rag dolls. Home came in every shape and color. Sometimes I forgot where I was.

Intricate social structures. A maze nestled in a labyrinth. They left me dumbfounded and friendless.

The girl that always stood in front of me in line, clad in a flowing white dress. I was captivated by that dress. The way it caught the wind. The sun lighting it on fire. I always held up the line. Shoved forward by the boy behind me. She wore it everyday. I would have too.

She said that if I gave her my crayons she would be my friend. I traded the contents of my desk, one item at a time; my Punky Brewster folder and the indigo pencil box where my caterpillars lived. I put them in my pockets. so afraid that I was going to hurt them. I didn't have anything left to give her. The next week I walked home without my shoes. They were pink, she said that was her favorite color.

So I ran. And when they caught onto me, I stopped going altogether. I stuffed my backpack with as many books as I could. Sometimes I remembered to pack myself a lunch; peanut butter and jelly, triangles, no crust. The trick was to walk to the bus stop as slow as you could while still looking like you were trying. I would watch, peeping from behind a bush, as the bus pulled away from the curb. Freedom.

A park, a shady tree, the tepee I made by the creek. I read.

I'm still reading.

Some people claim that fire is the most powerful force on Earth. I say that it is art. It is a gathering of words on a page. The stroke of a brush on canvas. The silence between the notes. It whispers to you. Reveals a part of you to yourself. Another piece of the puzzle.

Art resides in the space where the known meets the unknown.  It is in that space that I became an artist. The architect of my life.  Where I learned that time is not linear. That our stories don't read from beginning to end. This is a choose your own adventure book and we are the authors. We can change the past and write the future. Where there was suffering, we can add meaning. Where there was loss, we can find joy.

Friday, January 22, 2016


"Women piece together their lives from the scraps left over for them." - Terry Tempest Williams 

You  reside in every atom that passes through me.
 You are nestled into my skin.
You are the fragile thread of twine,
that reaches far beyond time,
binding our souls with the divine,
Reverberating down the line,
 howling noiselessly through the Pine.

She was my soft place. Soft like the pink shag carpet that blanketed her bathroom. I think that her bathroom may have been the first love of my life. 

The bathtub was huge, big enough for a mermaid to dive for treasures in. To construct castles made from shampoo bottles and Mr. Bubbles. And when the mermaid traded her tail for human legs, she could practice shaving them with crazy foam and a hair comb.

Fluffy bubblegum towels; taffy tinted tissue boxes, lemonade shaded Dixie cups and the sound of sprinklers borne on a cool summer breeze.

No matter how many undersea tea parties or dolphin training sessions took place in my coral alcove, it never stopped smelling like her. Chanel No. 5, Scope mouthwash and baby powder. On the nights when the ghosts would find her, when her demons would take the form of flaming white liquid in diminutive crystal tumblers, I would lie on my belly and bury my face into the pink fibers, I would breathe her. This is what serenity feels like.

It feels like her nails skating across my skin. Every stroke carrying with it the feel of the bathroom floor. The world would stop spinning. Nobody spoke. Nothing moved. Stillness. It was present at Danny's funeral when I felt my castle crumbling all around me. It was there when fireworks exploded in the sky and overwhelmed my whole being. It was there when the space between dream and reality was so minute that I lost it. And it was always there the next morning.

I learned that most people, even good people, had a demon living inside them. Her demon would take control of her body. It used her mouth, her voice, to hurt those she loved the most. Demons tend to do that. It said that I was just like my mother, an ungrateful bitch. I wondered what my demon looked like and if I would know when it escaped. She never seemed to.

Rose colored light cleaves the darkness, chasing the shadows from my walls and the rancor from her heart. Carnation fingertips cut the ruby into equal halves, a sprinkle of sugar to sweeten the bitterness.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


And God said, "Let there be light, and there was light. ~Genesis 1:3

The Universe is made of stories, not atoms. ~Muriel Rukeyser


Are words strong enough to carry the soul of a human being? To hold it up to the light? To allow us to see it, to know it, to become entangled with what resides inside? Words are all that I have.

I played him Tom Petty, placing earphones on my belly. He danced.
I read him my story. Every chapter that led me to him.
The day I heard his heartbeat was the day I started believing in fate and karma and destiny. 

On the day he was born, he stopped a blizzard and the sun shone as it must have on that first day. The day after the big bang. The explosion of carbon into the universe that gives us the right to say that we are made of stars.

In the nursery they nicknamed him peanut. A tiny little thing all curled up like he was trying to fit himself into a shell. We could not sleep. We didn't want to miss a single second of this journey. We stayed up and held him all night. We sang and we read and we stood in awe of every little toe and every magnificent yawn. Everything that had to materialize to bring us to this event in space and time. All the mutations and contemplations, the coincidences and occurrences. Love manifesting itself in the form of a peanut.

 I watched him like a hawk. His breath became my breathe. His heartbeat, my obsession. I refused to put him down and then panicked when he was unable to crawl. Every new noise necessitated a call to the doctor and every time he cried, I joined in. We went for a walk everyday. For the first time in my 16 years I was seeing the world in its pure and simplest form, undiluted by preconceptions or biases. To know a tree is to see it through the eyes of an infant. Everything became an expression of the eternal.

When he was 9 months old, he became ill. I was terrified. The doctor scorned me like a child. It was just a cold he said. But I knew that something was wrong. Animals can always sense the looming approach of chaos. That night I dreamt of the ocean. I sat cross legged in a tide-pool. The waves sauntering to and fro, covering me in Venetian blue. I was playing with a starfish. Feeling its suction cups against my hand. When it attached itself to me, I became a starfish too. I did not see the water coming to take me. I was dragged under. I lost track of my starfish. Oxygen vanished, I inhaled salt. I couldn't tell where I ended and the water began. I awoke, gasping. He was lying next to me, lips like sapphires, struggling to get air into his lungs. I wrapped him in a blanket the color of sky, clutched him to my chest, and ran to the hospital.

His first word was 'Baba'. It is Arabic for Father.

He got into the refrigerator and smashed every single egg onto our carpeted kitchen floor. Then came the chocolate syrup, the cream pie, and the butter. He was so proud. His first work of art. He flushed everything he could down the toilet, giggling as it swirled out of sight; keys, watches, jewelry, toys...He was flabbergasted at his ability to make things disappear.

He couldn't sit still. Life was too abundant . He couldn't stop screaming. Life was too electrifying.

He possessed an ardent love for the sound of ripping paper. Books were his favorite. By his 1st birthday, every book in the house had evolved into a new story. Stories of our own making. We filled those missing pages with our lives.

 Sometimes life imitates art far more than art imitates life

Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, " I love you right up to the moon - and back." ~Guess How Much I Love You 

When he played in the ocean he filled his pockets with agates. Soon, with pockets bulging, all his efforts would become focused on holding his sodden pants against his tiny frame. He would grab the Gaia's skin. Handfuls of minerals and gases. Countless life giving organisms. And pile it atop his head. He spent a lot of time engaging in activities, in practices, that furthered gravity's purpose. Fixing himself firmly to the ground. If it wasn't rocks in his pockets it was acorns. If not acorns it was garbage. Precious treasures disguised as trash along the side of the road. To him, everything held meaning. Every object was accompanied by an ethereal twin. He would have made the early Greek philosophers very proud. 

I hold an image in my mind. His pants are falling to his ankles, the waves on his tail. He is running towards me, arms outstretched. He is laughing. 

In the first grade he went on a field trip to a farm. An innocent red barn. Feed the goats, milk the cow, live in a time far existed from now. But it was there he uncovered the ugly truth, humanities separation of spirit and food. Unable to pull asunder Plato's two parts and betrayed by a system without any heart.

He never ate an animal again.

He berated a boy in his class for using a hole punch on a leaf. 

He despises people for destroying the Earth. He tells me that he can feel it suffering. It's too much.Show and tell turns into lectures on pollution and recycling. He spends his birthday at a mink farm protesting the killing of animals for their fur. He refuses to cut his hair, his nails.The neighbor boy steps on a snail and, as fire rages in his eyes, he tells me he hates him. After the rain, he runs outside to rescue the snails from the immoral feet of  human boys. He holds them in his hands with the same tenderness as I held him. Everything holds meaning. 

We lie in the grass together, heads touching, making pictures out of clouds. 

"Whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think, 'Mommy loves me. Mommy loves me'". ~The Kissing Hand

He wants to be a superhero, He knows everyone of them by name. He knows their powers and their stories. He knows their struggles and their triumphs. If he could become one, his power would be the ability to make his brain hold still, to build walls around it like a fortress.

 He can't do homework. He holds his hands to the sides of his head, tears dripping on his Batman shirt, trying to keep the world at bay. He says that it feels like the world is screaming at him. He can hear the enthusiastic conversations taking place amongst the birds. Can he make out what they're saying? He can see the sunlight dancing around the room, finding a new partner with each object it touches. Is light a living thing? He can feel his weight against the Earth. How secure is his place on it? The tag of his shirt, the one that I forgot to cut out, is attacking the back of his neck. His nose gathers the smells that have clung to his skin; play-doh, cut grass and chlorine. Does grass feel pain? If he thinks about it hard enough, can he make his play-doh dinosaur come to life? A superhero could.

Every morning, his face still awash with dreams, rubbing the last of them away with a swipe of his hand, flexing his beanpole shaped arms with everything in him,"Mommy, have they gotten bigger?! Am I fuerte?!" Of course they have. Of course you are. He runs off to climb the highest thing he can find. The blanket that he had me tie around his neck, his cape, soaring behind him. He's off to his job. He fixes doors, like his dad.

We played Pokémon everyday that summer. He cried every time he lost.

 I walk by the stairs and find that he has put himself in timeout. Quivering chin tilted to chest. Watery brown eyes focused on tightly clasped hands. His posture dripping with disappointment. Just like a superhero, he has a very strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. He can't help but to tell the truth.

He refuses to take his cape off.

In first grade he's asked to write a story about a real life hero. He writes it about his dad. He tells me that when he grows up and gets big, he will marry me.

 "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." ~Love You Forever

His hair grows long. he tells me that he hates material things. He loathes money. He wishes that he never had to buy anything ever again. I'm afraid that he's growing up too fast. That his soul is too old for the rest of him. It's bursting forth. Reaching for enlightenment. it's left him open, exposed. He's four feet tall. A Buddha in a boys body.

We can't watch the news. It lifts him up and places him at the heart of human suffering. 

He's kneeling beside his bed. Bumper, his beloved stuffed companion, held steadfastly in his grasp. He's praying. Praying for the child that was kidnapped. Worried that she doesn't have her Bumper, that she's scared and doesn't have her mom to tuck her in. He's praying for the sick. The homeless. He's praying that the war, just a word to him, will not come to pass. I can feel the quakes. See the fissures. His fragile foundation, built atop a world that does not deserve him, is coming loose.

His best friend moves away. We're not allowed to say his name.

He gives all of his allowance to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He marches for miles through the streets of Salt Lake City protesting the use of child soldiers in Uganda. He tells everyone that, as a child himself, he feels the need to support other children. I notice that toys are disappearing. I ask him if he happens to know where they might be wondering off to. He informs me that he's been giving them away to his friends, friends that have less toys than he does. I beg him to stop. And then I feel ashamed because I know that he's a better person than I am.

We mount our bikes and embark on grand adventures. He documents his world with a camera.

He doesn't understand why boys want to play war games, why they want to hurt one another. He says that they make him feel sad. He decides that he wants to be a girl. He wants to write and draw. To build instead of destroy. To cry when it comes and hug when in need. He has come to view boys as disheartening enigmas. All his friends are girls. He is adored. He becomes a God among mortals. 

At parent teacher conference I am told of his heroics. I'm also told that he can't sit still and he won't shut up. If he is not jumping up and down while yelling out everything he knows about a certain subject, he may be adamantly standing up for an underdog. He might also be staring at a butterfly and tracing its flight pattern in his mind, instead of working on an assignment. At lunch, he can be found sitting next to the kid who had previously been sitting alone. Or he may be using the tables as lilly pads.

I feel unworthy to be his mother.

 And the boy loved the tree...very much. And the tree was happy. ~The Giving Tree

We taped ourselves singing to one another. You can hear the river humming along with us. Its tune is much faster than ours. I can't make it slow down. 

I have my preconceptions.

When I see you, I don't.
I see myself, graphed and stitched to you.
I see me, trying to be you.
I will not see you.

But you will not see me.
We share our selfish eyes.
In yours, I am not me. And can't be.
In yours, I am you. Graphed and stitched.
You will try to be me. And I you.

I have my preconceptions,
And they are me.


He makes a wish on every dandelion he sees.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Olive / Pine / Fir

Family tree has got its roots in the sky, 
And a broken bird can fly
 ~Trevor Hall

When he was 7 his cat Hunter killed a baby bird. His scream pierced the spring morning air and he ran as fast as his little legs would carry him. He didn't make it in time. For weeks he refused to even look at hunter He wouldn't step foot outside. The world became an evil place; dark and cruel and chaotic. His world stood atop its own head.  

The Enchanted Forest. You took me there every time I came to see you. It was one of my favorite places on Earth. A forest full of fairy tales. Maybe it was because my inner world read like a scene from Alice in Wonderland; full of wondrous sights and terrifying sounds, an air of adventure set to a mood of ominousness. A winding path that lead through slanted houses and rainbow waterfalls.

When I wasn't in awe then I was most likely to be found cowering in fear. Fireworks, motorcycles, sirens, bright lights, anything in motion that I was asked to get into. The thought that my toys might be in a different order in which I had carefully placed them. I was scared of being with mom. I was scared of grandma when she drank. I was scared that you were going to leave me again.

I lived in a reality that was beyond my understanding. It was loud and bright and it could change in the blink of an eye.
I kissed Danny on the cheek and wished him good dreams. The next morning everyone told me that he went to live in the sky. I sent him balloons with letters tied to their strings.
We were all at the park. I finally gained the courage to scoot on my bottom across the wobbly wooden bridge. It was cloudy and drizzly and I was happy. In the following memory mom is telling me that we have to live here now, with these strangers. That she didn't know where my velveteen bear was.
I had hair like a moth ball and wore Strawberry Shortcake glasses over my lazy eye. They called me a porcupine and pretended to be pricked by my quills. I ran away during recess with a backpack full of library books and a burning desire to never return.
I curled up behind the couch; my eyes squeezed shut, holding pillows to my ears, rocking back and forth. I could still see the lights flash and hear the thunderous booms as the fireworks exploded and I wondered why I had been born on the wrong planet. I wasn't created to withstand these noises. To endure this disorder. To untangle these emotions.

You were my escape, my way out. A magic trick. You were pancakes and agates; colored pencils and quiet places. You were my best friend.

 You were just as scared as I was. I didn't know.

When you left, I hid. I have spent much of my life curled up in a ball hiding behind a couch. It got too bright, too loud, too confusing. I want to tell you the story of my life in hiding. But I also want to tell you the story of my emerging.  You helped me uncurl, to take a peek.  I held pictures of us in my mind. Images of us running on the sand with our heads looking back to the kite we held in our clasped hands. Skipping through the mall making bird noises while drinking Orange Juliuses. Sitting next to you, watching you draw and willing myself to make time stand still. I studied physics and embraced the idea that space and time are curved and that time and events do not exist in the way that we think they do. Physics told me that I could go back and sit by the sea with my you.

My little olive tree also ran and hid from the world. It, and his best friend, had betrayed him. He learned the lesson that, in the end, he had no control of the world. He cried for days. I was scared that he wouldn't stop, that it was too much. But it wasn't. He stood up and wiped his tears.. He cuddled Hunter and told him that he forgave him. He forgave the world its transgressions. He couldn't save that bird but I believe that that bird gave him a gift that day, he learned something at 7 that it took me close to 30 years to learn, he learned to fly.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


"O olive tree, blessed be the Earth that nourishes you
and blessed be the water you drink from the clouds
and thrice blessed he who sent you
for the poor man's lamp and the saint's candle-light."
~Folk song from Crete

I was taught, by a very brilliant man, that there are 2 ways in which we humans actually know something. By far the most common form of knowledge that we posses as a species he called "knowledge with a lowercase k". I know, (small k), so many things. I know that time is not linear.  I know that we as  humans are destroying the only home we have ever known. I know that we are all connected by cause and effect. That we have spent our entire existence making choices that have caused waves of sorrow and rage to come crashing down upon our own heads and the heads of everyone else, even those yet to be born. I know that we need to live in the moment. I know that we should treat everyone with kindness. I know that, in the end, we are all the same: Made up of the same star stuff; Constantly exchanging particles and ideas. I know that the world, as it exists right now - school shootings and mountain top removing - is but a mirror image of ourselves. Knowing something with a big K, however, is something else entirely. 

Most of the time, I live my life as if the Crystal writing this is the only form of myself that exists. I forget that the old women by the sea, the one with grandchildren and wrinkled hands is also the little pig-tailed girl burying her dad in the sand. I drive my car and consume my goods. I forget the next generation. I know that the innumerable hurts that have been bestowed upon me have turned inside out and been carried away on the wind. We are distracted, cruel and unaware, I know that you are me and I am you. 

If you can recognize them for who they are, teachers intersect your path. They hold up the mirror. They push you off course. They shake your foundation. They pick you up off your feet and fly you up above everything where, for but a brief moment, you can see it all. Knowledge. 

The olive tree has been one of my greatest teachers. 

It was the gift of wisdom from the goddess Athena to the mortals below. In times of war, couriers were sent with olive branches in their hand as a symbol of peace. On the 23rd of September, when the light and dark are in perfect symmetry, the Celts celebrate the olive as a symbol of balance. It's oil healed the sick and brought light into the darkness. And it was a dove carrying an olive branch that brought hope where it had been forgotten.

On the day that he was born, March 31st, I remember watching the blizzard rage on as I was wheeled into the operating room. I was a frightened 16 year old girl whose soul resembled a battlefield strewn about with the injured and dead. She had slapped me and called me a whore. You said that it wasn't a good time. She was a shell of the women you remember, the one who said that she loved the feeling of the waves pulling the sand from beneath her feet because it made her feel like she was weightless. The one who encouraged me to be creative and used markers to draw all over my arms and legs. I was also a shell. Becoming that way seems to be directly correlated with living in that house. I lost count of the saplings in the forest. I couldn't remember that feeling of weightlessness. And then he came into the world, all 6 pounds 7 ounces of him, and he brought the sun with him. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pine: I

We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires and comets inside us.
We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand.
-Robert McCammon

Humans are natural disasters. We are mirror images of the forests, oceans and valley floors that surround us. We are doves, capable of extending an olive branch. We are the quivering leaves of an aspen. We are the rocks made smooth by the crashing waves that beat upon us. If we could see ourselves as we truly are, we would weep at the beauty.  We are earthquakes that rip the land asunder. We are tsunamis rolling over everything in our wake. We are pebbles thrown into a pond. We are chapters of a forest. 

I have always had a hard time with our species. It has always been easier for me to deal with us as a forest as opposed to individual trees. We seem clearer as a whole. Easier to hold in my hands. Like holding a globe, you can see all the patterns and connections. I see honesty and compassion. I see anger and resentment. I see fear. Fear is the water. It makes up 75% of who we are. I am scared to write this.

So much has happened since I spoke to you last. A forest has burnt to the ground and been reborn from its ashes. I'm in love with that idea. Death as birth. Winter as spring. Suffering as joy. I think it started on our road trips to the coast. The wind blowing in our hair. Roadside Pancakes and Green Day on a loop. We could smell the fish and feel the sand in our toes. The best part , besides the pancakes and Green Day, was driving through the ruins of the Tillamook forest. The Tillamook forest fire was a series of four wildfires that raged over a span of 18 years burning 355,000 acres of old growth timber. There was nothing left. A forest of skeletons. But then something magical happened.  It happened so slowly that I almost missed it. Little green saplings growing out of the ash. Every time we passed through I searched for new life and kept a running tally in my mind. I was that forest's biggest fan.

When you left, my life burned to the ground, but saplings grew from the ashes. I want you to know me. To know them. To read our chapters. Dad, this is my olive branch.