Looking back, my whole childhood was a plant and nature love story, complete with a 20 acre playground. Growing up on a show rabbit farm in Northeastern Indiana allowed me to explore, dream, and get dirty. I made little moats in the mud of my mom's garden to water her bedding plants, picked fruits out of our orchard, and jumped into our pond on a hot day to gather pond weed and algae for an impromptu Loch Ness monster costume.

As a nerdy kid who loved to read, I would take my books and climb the white cedar by my house to curl up on a branch and escape to another world. The white cedar was planted when my grandmother was a girl, and years later was given the inspired name of "Mr. Tree" by my brother and myself. Its branches were perfect for dreaming and reading with a barn cat in your lap. In addition to a reading nook, Mr. Tree was the deck of the USS Enterprise (both the naval and the spaceship), a castle, a fortress, an island, and a sanctuary.

Mr. Tree features prominently in most fa...

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