My sister’s name is Emily Laurel. Both of my parents love the outdoors so she was named after mountain laurel. However, my middle name…Diane. When I was little, I decided that I wanted to have a nature name too. Why was I just Myken Diane? That’s not a nature name. So, one day when my family was driving to our camp, I told them I wanted to change my name. We tried everything: Myken Rhododendron, Myken Acorn, Myken Stump. Nothing worked. Then finally, we drove past a clearing with tons of ferns and my gram said, “Myken Fern.” Although I never had my name changed legally, my family still refers to me as “Myken Fern.” I even used Fern as my nature name when I was a camp counselor at Shaver’s Creek Outdoor School.
Being raised by a family who loves the outdoors, it’s hard not to have that same appreciation for the beauty of nature. From fishing at camp with my dad, to planting flowers with my mom, my parents taught me to value even the smallest things that God has given us: the chirping birds, the peepers at night, the slimy worms that keep the soil healthy, the creepy crawly insects, and even the iridescent dragonfly that hovers over the warm pavement of the road.
In my environmental science class in high school, I learned, even more, to appreciate nature by getting hands-on experience. I studied everything about the environment from the teeny tiny macro invertebrates that live under the rocks in streams, to the huge redwood trees out west that even ten men can’t get their arms around!
Learning about all these things really got me thinking; what a great way to show I am thankful for the beauty God has given us by hugging a tree! Now, I’m not saying I’m one of those people who chain themselves to the trees so they won’t be cut down, and I’m not promoting it either, but I’ve hugged a few trees in my day…it’s fun! Yeah, people call me a tree hugger, so what? No, the trees don’t wrap their branches around you, but they give us clean air, shade when it’s hot, and beauty in our environment. That’s how they hug us.
So the next time you see a tree when you’re walking down the street or out taking a jog, hug it! It’s something everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. Even if you don’t hug it, I guarantee you will think about this paper and smile. But, if you want to be a little crazy, hug that tree. It can be your little way of saying thank you for what it is providing to you.
When we open our eyes to nature, we see that things around us are never the same, and we discover – each hour, each day, each year – new things we didn’t know and new creations that have their own stories to tell…this I believe.
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