All my passions Grew on the Mountain: A student’s forest journey of discovery

ccsu 459Lesley Garlow is an Adult Upgrading student who is currently finishing her English 12/ English 60 in order to enter the Selkirk College Social Service Worker program next fall.  Her personal essay explores the elements of nature, gardening and cooking that sustain her well-being and happiness.

Every post-secondary student embarks on a journey to discover what sustains them when the going gets tough.  Living in the Kootenays, many of us turn to nature and  the joy of growing, cooking and eating our own food.  Lesley beautifully explores the ways in which the earth and her bounties provide a foundation for her life.

leadership 008All my passions grew on the mountain

I like to believe that I am a lover of many great and wonderful joys of life.  Yes, new and fun experiences are exciting, but when I really think about it tfernhere are few things that truly speak to my soul. Reveling in the great beauty of our forests is most definitely at the top of my list, followed closely by gardening and then cooking for friends and family.  These things are closely tied together and without them, and all they encompass, I believe I would surely die.

When I was eight, my dad moved us from the city and Ontario.  We drove across Canada to British Columbia’s beautiful mountains.  The forest and I quickly became fast friends.  I spent the rest of my childhood there playing games with my siblings, climbing mountains just to see what was on the other side, and running on games trails pretending to be deer.  I learned how fish and hunt, but most importantly I learned how to just be.  I learned how to breathe and how to feel the life all around me.  The forest was where I would go to think, cry and scream all through my adolescence.  Today the forest and I are old friends – one that I love to visit with often. I feel safe in her embrace.  I would also have to say that she led me to my other passions.

     While spending time in the forest, I learned from my Dad and books about the herbs and roots that grew there.  I was obsessed with wild, growing things.  While my siblings and I were running around also growing wildly in the forest, we would forage and pick berries.   We would bring home what we didn’t eat on our way home to my Mom who would use the plants to make jams or dinner that night.  I remember bringing  homleavese my very first whole wild blackberry bush to grow.  My hands were bloody and sore as I dug in the hard dirt of our pitiful yard, only to watch my prized plant die.  I felt very sad that I had taken this perfect plant and killed it.  My Dad explained to me about proper growing  conditions for individual plants.  Through the death of many wild berry bushes, ferns and wild ginger, my passion for growing edible and beautiful plants grew into my love of gardening for food.

           Now what to do with all this wonderful food, but to eat it? And, there is no better way to do that than with the people you love. When family comes together to break bread, I believe magic happens somewhere leadership 002between the ceremony of setting the table and the “please pass the peas.”  It warms me to my very core to see everyone smiling and gathered together – especially when the food is a direct product of my love and hard work.  I believe homegrown food nurtures the body more completely somehow, and being able to provide that for my family gives me a strong sense of accomplishment.

I hope that  you can see now why exactly I  might die without my beautiful forest, my lovely garden and the love I have cooking for the ones I love.  They fill my life, my heart and are the true passions of my soul.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and passions Lesley!  Reading your words makes me think about how our learning institutions mostly focus on the intellect and I wonder how we could bring more connection with nature, gardens,  cooking and eating together so that our hearts and souls are nourished as well as our minds! 

Here’s another post about the healing power of the natural world:

Hey readers –   – – what sustains you? Where did your passions grow?

What ideas do you have to green and deepen our educational systems so we are better at nourishing the whole person?

Leave a comment below or send us your own words and pictures to post here.


4 responses to “All my passions Grew on the Mountain: A student’s forest journey of discovery

  1. What a beautiful tribute to nature. I also moved from Ontario and have felt so much love and comfort from the mountains and forests. It sounds like your family has shared many gifts and teachings with you. Thank you for sharing with us. – Jessica Morin, Aboriginal Services – Selkirk College

  2. I grew up in B.C. both in the mountains and by the ocean and I also have memories of being a kid in the forest and feeling so at home with the sounds and smells and watching the leaves against the sky. A Buddhist teacher once told me when I was grieving to just lie on the earth and let her hold me – – reminds me of your friendship with the forest. These days I am also surprised by how much I LOVE growing and eating my own food. Thanks again for opening this conversation Lesley!

  3. Hello Lesley. Thank-you for your contributions. I ran a small environmental communications company for 25 years before coming to the College. I worked on the conversation of wetlands, forests, rivers in so many beautiful places. I celebrate this place that I’ve raised my 3 children every day and give thanks for interdependence with all the creatures, mountains, lakes. We are all connected : . ) Have you read Carolyn Merchant The Death of Nature (it helped me understand that I’m not crazy about the synchronous assaults on nature/women), Last Child in the Woods – Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv and for a most beautiful book on connection with nature – The Geography of Childhood – Why Children Need Nature? Hope to see you at Tenth Street Campus at some point or in Castlegar.
    Theresa Southam, Coordinator, Teaching and Learning Institute @ Selkirk College

  4. Pingback: What is it about eating that brings us together? | Selkirk Dinner Club·

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