The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.

What influences us? We often do not know because very profound influences come in small packages.

The picture above is a good example. I took that picture more than ten years ago (October 2009) at a conference on creating bobwhite quail habitat. I took the picture because I thought that open woods was just beautiful and I was learning that it was very productive for wildlife. It reminded me of the open ponderosa pine landscapes of the west.

I have referred to that picture many times and its influence on my choices has been significant. It informed decisions on thinning my the pines on Brodnax and Freeman. I sacrificed some timber value for wildlife and aesthetic reasons. Having that picture in mind helped me … well visualize the result.

In the ten years since that picture, I have learned a lot more about forest ecosystems and the forest-grassland savanna of the American South. Back in 2009, I had not yet planted my first longleaf pine and I really did not know much about that ecology. Now that I know more, my vision for the future is more longleaf than loblolly, with more complexity on the forest floor, but the picture still is similar.

I need that kind of inspiration, that visualization. I will never see the results of my efforts. I can only hope that my kids, or other future owners of the land I have come to love are willing to carry on.

St Paul defined faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I have often been inspired by those few words. My forestry work certainly is faith-based, but I am glad to have a glimpse of something like what I will not get to see.