My Dad Created a Forest

Waaay back behind our house, I’m not even sure if the land was our property or a neighbor’s (or even State owned, for that matter), my Dad created a forest.

My dad was a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Ranger for Region 5. So he was always doing all-things Forest Rangery. So, one year, he, our neighbor, Marie Mussen, and us (well, I know I’d helped, not sure about the rest of my siblings) planted acres of seedlings in an empty field. Can’t remember if they’d been spruce or pine. Evergreens, they were, but I’m pretty sure spruce. Ish. Anyway, I remember helping out, then taking breaks and getting a sip or two of beer from my dad (I never did like the taste of beer, and to this day never did develop a taste for the stuff).

Fast forward some thirty-odd years.

My wife and I return to my old home, and met the current residents. We explained that I lived there and just wanted to check the place out, and, man, were they gracious! They took us throughout the entire house, but even more so, lent us the use of their ATV! Said  go have fun! So my wife and I took a spin “up back,” as we used to call it, taking the dirt road that went up alongside the barn, up a hill, then into the back forty.

Along the way I stopped at the old garden we had in the “First Field.” Not there anymore. Overgrown. I then continued up the now quite narrower trail that was heavily overgrown with the Adirondacks to the next area (also called the “Second Field”), where existed a large granite boulder I used to call “Devil’s Den,” after the Gettysburg Civil War site of the same name (it looked nothing like it, but again, this is Kid Logic, we’re talking about). This was also totally overgrown! It used to be quite open, and you could see the boulder from the trail. Not now. So as I get to the location of where Devil’s Den should be, I quickly hop off the ATV and shout over my back as I launch into the thick woods, “I’ll be right back!

Wife: “What the hell? What’s happening? Where are you—”

Me: Gone.

Animals and birds: making noises.

Woods: cracking and creaking.

Perhaps even a bear or two watching us—well, her….

Okay, maybe not quite like that, but it is funnier. You see, at this point, where I’d stopped the ATV on the trail, it looked like I just stopped in the middle of thick woods! Left her alone in Big Foot territory or something!

But in a few minutes I popped back out from the vegetative obfuscation, smiling, and apologized, telling her what I did, and then lead her back into the woods to show her.

Afterwards we continued on and take the ATV way back through the winding trail and eventually come to a “T,” with another trial now running perpendicular to ours. For the first time…I’m confused.

“I don’t remember this,” I say, staring into a wall of 50 or 60-or-more-foot trees before us, blocking our way.

And indeed I do not…I have no memory of a wall of trees back here. It should all be open and—

Then it hits me: this is the very field where Dad and us planted all those seedlings! They’ve all grown up and become, well, a forest.

Acres of it!

We get off the ATV and take it all in.

My Dad did this.


These spruces, for they were all narrow and tall, packed the way in front of us and stretched to the right and the left and deep behind it for quite some spell. Merged with the rest of the trees.

It was so danged cool!

We just stood there and took it all for quite a few minutes, smiling the entire time.

I’m going to call it the Ranger Frank P. Dorchak, Jr. Stand.

Way to go, Dad!



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About fpdorchak

Speculative and paranormal fiction author. Please check out my website: Thank you for stopping by!
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7 Responses to My Dad Created a Forest

  1. Karen Lin says:

    Now stop me if this drives you nuts… but these last two posts sound more like your voice than any of your fiction that I’ve read. I think you have a series of personal essays or a memoir on your hands…. or in your brain. Tell your story Frank! Tell your story. Only two other writers I’ve read can tell their own stories as emotionally and accessibly as you… Catherine Hamrick (who writes of her southern past – much of it through poetry and lyrical essays) and Haven Kimmel (who writes of her youth in Indiana in humorous memoirs, my favorite–> A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY)…. brilliant.

    Anyway, don’t mean to distract you but really!!!! Not everybody can take seemingly simple memories and inject so much significance into them.

    • fpdorchak says:

      You are so kind, Karen, thank you! And thank you for being my top reader and commented here (you literally are)! I’ve been told more than once how I routinely make a mountain out of a mole hill, so you may be onto something here….

  2. says:

    I read the above. I think I’ve been saying the same thing for awhile now. This is a guy I know & recognize . I agree with her. This is just you being you. A North Country Kid.
    P.S. I think if you reference Fran Yardley’s “Finding True North” you will find your Dad referenced there, and the conifer plantations they put in, on old Bartlett Carry Club lands, over between Middle and Upper Saranac. I strongly suspect your Dad was involved in that effort. He did a lot of forestry work for the Yardleys, per Fran’s book, so that would make sense. Apologies if I am telling you something you already know.
    Have a great day, be well, Dick

  3. Deb says:

    I love these posts about “home”. For the few times I visited you all up there, I still remember and love the place. Thanks.

  4. xtian54 says:

    Great memories shared with humor and heart. I remember those woods well.

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