Lexington Virginia

When I saw the statue I thought it might be Robert E Lee and I would have to feign outrage. This was Washington and Lee University after all. Closer inspection revealed it was Cyrus McCormick. All those old guys with beards look alike.

McCormick was a local boy and he gave money to Washington and Lee, but he moved to Chicago at an early age. He developed the McCormick Reaper that allowed for much more efficient harvests and revolutionized life for grain farmers, especially on the great plains, which were just on the verge of settlement when the reaper was developed.

Buckminster Fuller coined the phrase “energy slaves” to denote how much of our work is done by energy. This is what makes us so rich today. Add machines to that. McCormick reapers were still pulled by horses. There is the saying that BTUs do the work so you don’t have to. Of course that same goes for most tech. In the end, productivity is the only things that makes us better off materially.

I was driving up I-81 through the Shenandoah Valley. It was and is a major agricultural region. Relatively less important, as other regions have come online, than it was when McCormick lived there but still productive. In McCormick’s time, the Shenandoah Valley was a big grain producer. Today, it is more pasture.

During the Civil War, Union troops sought to destroy the productive capacity of the valley to starve the Confederacy. General Phil Sheridan was put in charge. His troops burned barns, killed livestock and made a desert of this once verdant and productive region, such that “A carrion crow in his flight across must either carry his rations or starve.”
It is a lesson in how war becomes more and more terrible as it progresses to its conclusion. It becomes a war against people when people feed armies.

My first picture is Cyrus McCormick at Washington and Lee. Next is the less PC but more memorably monikered Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson at VMI, where he was an instructor. VMI and Washington and Lee are right next to each other, but with very different architecture, as you can see in the buildings behind the statues. Picture # 3 is Main Street in Lexington and the penultimate picture is a little restaurant where I had breakfast. People in Lexington were extraordinarily friendly and cheerful. At least a half dozen people greeted me on the street, and unlike the case sometimes around DC, they did not want anything from me. As semi-introvert sometimes lost in my thoughts, such amity is not always welcome, but I know it comes from good intentions. Last picture is from McCormick’s family farm. It is right of I-81 about 16 miles north of Lexington. Worth seeing, but maybe not worth going to see, but since it is so close …

I -81 is an unpleasant highway. Lots of truck moving at speeds that seem a little too fast, so you cannot enjoy the beauty of the Shenandoah as much as you otherwise might. There are lots of long vistas. It is very different from 95 and especially 85 that are surrounded by thick forests for large stretches.

George C Marshall

George C Marshall did not write memoirs. He was dedicated to his country & his duty. He gave credit to others, even for things he mostly did. He did not promote himself, never acted for political motives did not even vote. He went where his duty took him and did his best work when he got there. He was as close to the ideal of an American public man as ever lived. We never had many like him and I am afraid that we produce even fewer these days. Never complain, never explain and never apologize type guys, the ones that control their emotions and keep their private lives private, are out of style.

He might even have had trouble getting started. George C Marshall was an indifferent student in high school and showed no genius in college at VMI. He showed leadership skills early on, including superb organizational skills and extraordinary ability to judge people, put them in the right jobs and then let them do their jobs.

Marshall used to say that it was important to ask what a man COULD do, not what he could not. This was absolutely the right way to think and it certainly contributed to the Allied victory in the World War, and to American success in the very uncertain post-war world, where the most talented players had serious flaws, i.e. were human. (This would not fly today, in our days of zero tolerance and looking harder for flaws than achievement. I hope that we get past this and become adults again.)

I was in Lexington to give a talk on Aldo Leopold at Washington & Lee. I arrived when it was already getting dark, so I wanted to stay a little longer the next day so I could see a little. Lexington is not a big city. It took me 19 minutes to get from the hotel to VMI Marshall Museum, not counting a stop for breakfast. I was still too early. The museum did not open until 11am. So, I walked back to the hotel to get my car. I had left it, since I feared it would be too hard to park. There is ample parking around VMI. I got a place right in front of the Marshall Museum, reserved for visitors and giving two hours to visit.

It is worth seeing. I talked to a couple of the people there. They were dedicated to the job and to keeping the memory of George C Marshall alive. This is made more difficult by Marshall’s virtue of not promoting himself.

Americans are generally forgetting their history, more precisely not learning it. Marshall’s job as the organizer of victory just makes a less compelling narrative than being on the front lines. His avoidance of politics made his voice very powerful in getting things done, but it made him less famous. He was not a physically imposing man, not a gifted speaker. More’s the pity. He is the kind of man we should revere as a leader – a quiet man who does his duty, does it well, does not brag or complain and leaves when his work is done, knowing in his bones that service to his country was reward enough.

The first picture is Marshall’s statue at VMI. He is the University’s most illustrious graduate. Next is the library, classy. Picture #3 is Marshall’s desk, followed by a special book that has all the Marshall documents. Finally is a map at the center that shows the progress of the war. They say it lasts more than a 1/2 hour. I got as far as you can see, about the middle of 1940. Spoiler warning – I knew how it ended.

2020 Brodnax fire

I “identify” as a good looking 24-year-old man. Unfortunately, intolerant and un-PC nature will not forgive those four decades and insists on treating me like I was 64.

I am getting old and this is the end of a long day and I am tired. I got up just before 5am to head down to Brodnax to participate in a patch burn with Adam Smith. We were doing about 20 acres, so this one was easier than the one we did on Freeman. I am not very worried about most of the trees, but I am concerned that my little longleaf got too burned. I think they are okay, but I don’t know and will not know until April. It will be a long couple of months.

I had to leave a little early and let Adam and his crew finish off. I was off to Lexington, VA to do a talk about Aldo Leopold at Washington & Lee University, about a three hour drive from Brodnax.

I enjoy doing talks on almost any subject. It is one of the things I miss most since leaving my old job. Talking about Aldo Leopold was especially interesting for me.
Aldo Leopold. I feel a special relationship with him, or at least with his outlook. When I talk about him, I feel like I am going home, or at least back to my conservation roots in Wisconsin.

The group was mostly students, although it was open to the general public and there were a few old people. I think the students had to come as part of their coursework. I was a little surprised how much the audience knew about Aldo Leopold and it was gratifying to see how much his ideas resonate still.

I talked about what I like most about Leopold and what I think is the meta-message he advocates. My favorite among Leopold’s writing is his essay “Axe in Hand.” I think about that whenever I am cutting, burning or planting on my land. Leopold says that we put our signature on the land and that is how we develop our land ethic. It is the interactions that count. And that leads me to the other thing I like. Leopold does not have a dogma. He points in the general direction, but leaves to each person on the land the responsibility to develop a morality, a land ethic. It is not something that can be written once and for all.
I deployed two of the short idea that I very much believe. The first sometimes sound depressing but I think is very uplifting. “Yesterday’s solution is today’s problem.” Why is it uplifting? Because it implies choice and for me it also implies success. We make plans and we make progress, even if it created an opportunity for people of the future to make plans and make progress. Life is an eternal unfolding and that is beautiful. The other truth (with hat tip to Heraclitus) “You cannot step twice into the same forest.”

My pictures are from our fire this morning. Fire pictures are always sort of the same. I chose the middle picture because it was pretty. No big issues. I got stuck in some green briar for a few seconds and felt the momentary fear that I would get burned, but that was never realistic.

You can see from the pictures that all you need do is step over the fire to be safely in the black.

There is a story from the Mann Gulch tragedy in 1949 that killed 13 young fire fighters. Of course, this was a lot bigger and hotter fire than ours.) The leader of the group was a guy called Wag Dodge. He saved his life by lighting an escape fire. The fire was coming up a hill faster than a man could run. Wag Dodge understood he could not get away, so he lit a fire of his own and then hunkered down in the black, like what you can see in picture #2. The fire passed over him and he survived. Of course, an escape fire works only with fine fuel, like grass. If you tried that in thick timber, you would likely get slow roasted.

Forest health conference

I have to get a new battery. My car would not start this morning and I had to call USAA to get a jump start.  That made me late for the forest heath conference.  I don’t regret that too much.   I missed sessions on pesticide safety, a technical presentation for certification I am not seeking, on aquatic invasive that I do not deal with and on the progress of the spotted lanternfly in Pennsylvania.  The last would be interesting for historical reasons, but since I arrived in time for the presentation on the spotted lanternfly in Virginia, I figured it was okay.  Also, one of the big reasons I attend these conferences is to see forestry friends and meet new ones, and this I did.

Spotted lanternfly in Virginia
 Spotted Lanternfly in Virginia – David Gianino, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

The spotted lanternfly is a showy insect that showed up in Pennsylvania from China in 2014. It made it to Virginia in 2018, Fredrick County and Winchester.  It probably arrived on a load of rocks. A big danger of the lanternfly is that it can stick egg masses on almost any flat surface, and to the untrained eye the egg masses look a lot like a mud splash.
The lanternfly feeds on ailanthus and tends to follow that tree.  If it limited itself to ailanthus, most of us would welcome the help. Unfortunately, they also preferentially go after magnolia, silver maples and zelkova, and will attack a variety of other trees and agricultural crops opportunistically.

Mr. Gianino described efforts to quarantine and eradicate lanternflies in Fredrick County and Winchester.  Unfortunately, it has been more a holding action than a victory.  The egg masses can stick to car and rail cars, so the efforts are aimed at rail and road networks.  You can imagine the challenge.  Winchester is a rail center and served by Interstate 81, which is why it is necessary to get the infestation under control there and probably how the lanternflies arrived in the first place.

If you see a lanternfly, report it and then kill it and any of its eggs or kin you find nearby.  They even have an app to help and give a kind of contest feel.  People can compete to find and kill the most of the pests.  SQUISHR is available at the Apps Store.

Globalization of soils
Can Soil Microbes Be Used as a Metric to Assess Urban Soil Health? – Stephanie Yarwood, University of Maryland

The next discussion concerned urban soils worldwide. We notice that lots of urban animals & plants have been globalized.  Rats, pigeons, starlings, sparrows, dandelions, turfgrass & various sorts of ornamental trees and bushes are so common in cities worldwide that most city dwellers probably think that they are native to their home cities.   What about soils?  Is there a convergence of soils and soil microbes?

Yarwood and her colleagues studied soils in Baltimore, Helsinki, Budapest and Potchefstroom in South Africa.  These cities were chosen for opportunistic reasons.  The teams studied less altered soils from the nearby countryside and soils in various states of disturbance.  They found that the soils were indeed converging.

Yarwood also talked about mycorrhizae.  These are the symbiotic fungi that help plants get nutrients, protect the plants from toxins and pathogens, influence soil structure and the community of plants.  Mycorrhizae functions are still imperfectly understood.  What we do know is that they greatly enhance plant growth and sterile soils w/o them is not much use, not matter how rich.  There are two major types. Ectomycorrhiza tend to work outside the roots systems.  They are less common than endomycorrhiza or arbuscular mycorrhiza, that work more within the roots, but are common on lots of the trees we most value, such as pine, oak, hickory & beech.

Mycorrhiza networks are disturbed when soils are disturbed, so frequently disturbed urban soils might share characteristics with other disturbed urban soils.

Pollinators – James Wilson, Ph.D., Virginia Tech – what’s with the bees?
What can forest managers do that will most help bees?  Mr. Wilson said, “T&B” thin and burn. The best thing you can do is provide a wide variety of flowering plants.  Most of the plants we eat do NOT require bee pollination, since most of our food comes from grains, which are not bee pollinated.

Bees eat pollen, however.  That is why they hang around corn fields. They are not pollinating, but they are gathering pollen. This is where bees are sometimes harmed by pesticides not aimed at them.  Ironically, fewer bees are killed when in fields of GMO corn, where pesticides are less necessary.

There are around 4,500 types of bees in the USA, 536 in Virginia.  Most are not honeybees.  The honeybees we mostly know live in hives and are not native to North America.  Not all bees are social, although most live in communities, few are as large as hone

bee communities and some bees are solitary.   The more social the bees, the more generalists they are.  Solitary bees often specialize on a particular plant or plant type.
There was a lot of talk about bees disappearing and there are lots of reasons. When they talk about bee decline, they are usually talking about honeybees. A problem with honeybees is concentration and that is often in California.   73% of all portable hives in the USA are in California.  This is based on the value.  Beekeepers in Virginia can rent out a hive for about $40 a day.  In California they can make $175.  Hives are literally stacked up in California. The bees are often too close, facilitating the spread of disease and they sometimes just stressing the bees from all the moving.

A practical thing I learned from the talk was that lots of bees, especially the solitary bubble bees, use old stems as nests.  Wilson cautioned that we should not cut down old standing stems. Don’t mow any more than you must.  I also learned a trivial fact.  Bubble bees sometimes shake down pollen by buzzing and vibrating.  That is why they seem to be hanging around w/o flying.

Emerald ash borer update
Establishment & Early Impact of Spathius galinae on EAB in the NE US – Jian Duan, Ph.D., USDA Agricultural Research

Eradication of emerald ash borer has failed.  That was clear more than a decade ago.  That means that the ash will never again be as widespread as it was once.  There is some hope against the implacable emerald ash borer, however.  Some ash trees are evidently resistant to the ash borer. Ash trees in China and the Russian Far East, home of the emerald ash borer, are fairly resistant.  American woodpeckers are starting to eat them, and some local wasps are attacking them.  Mr. Duan also talked about varying success of Asian wasps introduced to parasitoid on the larvae of the borers.  I learned the parasitoid is different from parasite, in that it always kills the host. Good for ash borers.

All this means that some ash trees will survive and maybe expand their range again, even if they do not become so common as they used to be.

Oak decline
Oak Decline; A Fight Against the Inevitable
This was mostly a talk about individual oak trees and often in urban or suburban environments, interesting but maybe not as useful on the landscape level.

Planning for climate change
Climate atlas
Adaptation Planning and Climate Change – Leslie Grant and Patricia Leopold, United States Forest Service

Virginia is getting warmer and wetter.  Trees take a long time to mature and forest ecosystem take longer than individual trees to develop.  That means we need to plant today for the expected climate tomorrow.  Scientist have estimated which trees and ecosystems will prosper and which will be challenged.

Loblolly, for example, will expand its range and be even more appropriate in Virginia.  Poplar range is likely to shrink in the commonwealth.  Fairfax County is thinking about the future and changing its tree planting plans and recommendations.

I have been adapting on my own land.  The longleaf pine we are planting are at the northern edge of their natural range and genetically they come from farther south.  I am also planting bald cypress in some of the damper places.  The “Virginia” loblolly available from many private firms tends to be genetically from Georgia or South Carolina.  In effect, southern genotypes have been moving north for generations.  We can also expect, or at least hope for, epigenetic adaptation.

Fire in the forest & communicating about forestry
The last two presentations of the day, on prescribed fire and on communications, were very much the sort of things I find interesting.  The problem was that I have found these subjects interesting for many years and there was not much I had not heard many times.  While I was glad to have confirmation, I don’t have much to add.
Tomorrow is another session.  Looking forward.

Busy couple of days

Lots of variety. Thursday I was planting trees. Yesterday, I did some WAE work for State and watched Espen band play. Today, I am writing up. Most of it is just personal, but I need to write up notes for State from the seminar I attended yesterday on “The US-Canada Permanent Joint Board on Defense at 80,” actual work.

Tree planting
Got the last tree in the ground and there was even daylight left. I planted the last box today, 334 trees.

Well, not the last forever. I will fill in a few more longleaf if I can get a few more boxes.
In a couple weeks, I also am getting 50 white oak, 50 swamp white oak and 300 shortleaf. This is mostly an experiment. I want to have some oak because I like oak. The shortleaf can grow with oaks or longleaf. Shortleaf are the most widespread of southern pines, but tends to be in mixed forests. Shortleaf can survive fires, but it is not like longleaf. Shortleaf can burn to the ground and re sprout. This is very uncommon for pines. They also can produce lateral sprout branches. In fact, that is one way to identify them. But shortleaf get no respect. They are not cool like longleaf nor as practical as loblolly. But I think it will be good to have at least a few hundred.

Of course, I have natural regeneration of oaks and shortleaf on the property already, but it is nice to plant some new ones.

My first picture is a selfie with the last of the longleaf. Next is the day’s end coming out of the woods. Last is a frog. I almost stepped on him. He is well camouflaged.

Still (sometimes) working at State Department
I like to keep a few fingers in my old profession and I enjoyed listening to speakers and “networking.” I am not going to post the extensive notes. Suffice to say that Canada is heating up, both physically and metaphorically. The high north is heating up faster than the rest of the world and this is taking the Arctic out of the deep freeze. It could soon become an arena of great power conflict. The Russians are obviously playing up there, but the Chinese are probably more aggressive in the long run. Unfortunately, the homeland of North America will be less secure in future than it has been.

FDR originated The US-Canada Permanent Joint Board on Defense in 1940. He did it on his initiative, inviting then Canadian PM Mackenzie King to meet him on his train, where they hashed out a semi-alliance. This was pre-Nato days and even before the U.S. was in World War II, so was a bold move. Lots of people in those days thought that the Nazis would win the Battle of Britain and that Canada would be next on the Hitler’s list. The invasion probably would have come through Newfoundland or Labrador. These were really dark days. Roosevelt had essentially committed the USA to the defense of North America, as I wrote, it was a bold move even if it seems nature today.

The 80th anniversary of the agreement is coming up, so they had a nice birthday cake.
I went over to the Congressional Research Service after that. CRS is the gold standard of political research. Their task is to inform Congress on key events and issues. The reports are generally available to the public I got to go along with State colleagues to meet a couple of the researchers who cover Canada.

Beer belongs
I caught the Silver Line to meet Chrissy at Gordon Biersch at Tyson. That used to be a regular event for us when Chrissy worked nearby, but now is a rarer pleasure.

Espen sings
The big event of the night was Espen playing with his band. I admit my bias, but I think they did very well. It was melodious music and not too loud (The band just before them produced a jaw-clenching cacophony.) Chrissy and I enjoyed watching Espen and his friends making music.

Unfortunately, I could not understand the lyrics, as the lead singer sings in Persian. I think they did well. The band is called Afarinesh. They just released their first album.

So, it was a busy day. As an old retired guy, I am unaccustomed to going through a whole day w/o a nap, but I made it from early to late.

Pictures are in reverse chronological order. First is Espen and his band. Next are Chrissy & I at Gordon Biersch. You see the Library of Congress in the middle picture. CRS is housed in LOC, although in the less impressive looking Madison Building across the street. The picture after that is cutting the birthday cake and the cake, and last is one of the panels at the Johns Hopkins Canada event.

Financial crisis

This book seemed written just for me, what with all the references to fires.
The three authors – Tim Geithner, Bob Bernanke & Hank Paulson represent Democrats, Republicans and career scholars/civil servants. They are the men more than any others who saved our economy and they tell their story very well.
Learning from history
The economic crash that started at the end of 2007 and ended early 2009 could have been a lot worse. The Great Depression started like that. Fortunately, this time some people had learned the lessons and the Treasury Dept, the Fed and even politicians did mostly the right things. The authors thought it useful to document some of what happened in hopes of making the lessons available for the next time we have a panic – and there will be a next time.
Metaphors explain
The authors use a few metaphors that make sense. They describe the spread of economic panic like an e-coli scare. There is some tainted meat or lettuce. Most is just fine, but people avoid all of the products, good and bad. As the panic spreads, it gets worse because unlike e-coli, which is a identifiable pathogen, financial markets depend on confidence & trust. When confidence & trust are lost, perfectly good securities can become toxic, leading to more loss of confidence.
Value is only what others are willing to pay
Nothing has intrinsic value. The labor-value of goods, i.e. something value depends on the work that went into it, makes intuitive sense, but it is a false concept. The only thing that gives anything value is what somebody else thinks it is worth. Housing was the basis of the collapse. People had confidence that home prices could go only in one direction – up. So, people bought more house than they could afford, assuming the value would grow, and they would make money. It seemed risk-free. They did make money for a long time. But your home did not get to be worth more unless somebody else is willing to pay more. In fact, the home we bought in 1997 should be worth less, since some things have worn out. Yet the value increased because people were willing to pay. When this stopped, the economy went down. The home that was “worth” $500,000 when you bought it, suddenly was worth half that. Even if you still owed $450,000.
The conflagration consumes good, bad and neutral
The other set of metaphors the authors use is fire. They use it in two related but separate ways that I think reflects Bernanke and Paulson. Bernanke talks about house fires. He gives the example of moral hazard. If a person smokes in bed and sets his house on fire, he may be blamed for the conflagration. But it doesn’t do any good to punish him by letting him burn, if your house will also catch fire. He used this metaphor to explain why we had to bail out some people who made bad, or even dishonest decisions.
Paulson is an environmentalist, who has exposure to prescribed fires and forest fires. His fire analogy is that of a wildfire. Whatever sparks the actual fire is less crucial than the presence of dry material ready to burn. Trying to identify the people or thing responsible for the ignition is a useless exercise, and trying to protect the only by stopping ignitions is worse than useless, since the task is impossible but might lead to complacency about address the kindling conditions.
Anyway, the fire was burning and destroying good as well as bad assets.
Bush & Obama did the right things but got little credit …
The authors describe the actions taken, much of it by the Fed and Treasury to shore up assets. They remind us how controversial all this was at the time, but our leaders showed courage. TARP (Trouble Assets Relief Program) was passed by a Democratically controlled congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush and they did this in the middle of an election campaign. And it was George W Bush who bailed out the auto industry. All this worked out. In fact, the government actually made money on these transactions.
… and a lot of blame from their own folks
Activists on both sides of the political spectrum hated the programs, however. People on the right didn’t like the idea of spending government money to bail out firms because they feared the expansion of government. People on the left didn’t like the government bailing out firms because they wanted more government and wanted to punish private firms. In the end, the more moderate middle saved the county.
The authors praise both the Bush and Obama Administrations for going against the power of their base. Bush embraced greater government. He also took many of the hard decisions in the lame-duck part of his presidency, sparing the Obama folks the opprobrium and the attacks they would have suffered from opponents opportunistically blaming the new guys.
The Obama folks, for their part allowed the Bush team the room they needed AND carried on similar policies when they took office. This is less surprising when you recall that Geithner, part of the triumvirate fighting the economic fire, became President Obama’s Treasury Secretary and Bob Bernanke stayed on at the Fed until 2014.
Obama did not follow the sirens’ song of his own base that wanted to make a clean break with Bush policies. In fact, this was a rare case of a nearly seamless transition, as 2/3 of the leadership team and most of the professionals remained on the job after the election.
This is how it is supposed to work. It is not how it worked at the start of the Great Depression and we got … the Great Depression. This time we got a severe downturn, but by summer of 2009 we were swinging back, even if that was not immediately evident to most Americans.
The future is uncertain.
The authors give advice on how deal with future panics. They warn that while legislation and regulations in place make the ignition of panics less likely, the mechanism to deal with them are less robust. They say it is like vaccinating people against deadly diseases, but at the same time closing hospitals.
It will happen again, and we will not be ready.
There will be other financial panics. By definition, they will come from unexpected sources, since we expect the expected ones and have covered those bases.
There is a kind of Stoical aspect to this book. Misfortunes will come. We will need to deal with them, but we cannot really say how. And there is an irony. Sometimes our preparations CAUSE the problem. We prepare for or regulate against one thing, and it creates incentives to do others. Making the system safer, for example, encourages more risk taking, making it more dangerous. We need to maintain a robust system, not one that is immune to all the troubles we can imagine, since the trouble of the future will be those beyond our imaginations.
Still encouraging
I was encouraged by this book and comforted, despite its rather gloomy recognition that something will happen, and we will not be fully prepared. I was encouraged by the competence and commitment of our leaders. They don’t get much praise these days, but when they chips are down, they step up.
Another lesson. It takes human judgment and courage to deal with unexpected big problems. The routine rules are set up for routine situations. When we go beyond that, somebody must decide when to go beyond in response.

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.