I. CHOOSING A PROFESSION
I loved outdoor life and hunting. Some way a grizzly bear would come in when I tried to explain forestry to my brother.
"Hunting grizzlies!" he cried. "Why, Ken, father says you've been reading dime novels."
"Just wait, Hal, till he comes out here. I'll show him that forestry isn't just bear-hunting."
My brother Hal and I were camping a few days on the Susquehanna River, and we had divided the time between fishing and tramping. Our camp was on the edge of a forest some eight miles from Harrisburg. The property belonged to our father, and he had promised to drive out to see us. But he did not come that day, and I had to content myself with winning Hal over to my side.
"Ken, if the governor lets you go to Arizona can't you ring me in?"
"Not this summer. I'd be afraid to ask him. But in another year I'll do it."
"Won't it be great? But what a long time to wait! It makes me sick to think of you out there riding mustangs and hunting bears and lions."
"You'll have to stand it. You're pretty much of a kid, Hal—not yet fourteen. Besides, I've graduated."
"Kid!" exclaimed Hal, hotly. "You're not such a Methuselah yourself! I'm nearly as big as you. I can ride as well and play ball as well, and I can beat you all—"
"Hold on, Hal! I want you to help me to persuade father, and if you get your temper up you'll like as not go against me. If he lets me go I'll bring you in as soon as I dare. That's a promise. I guess I know how much I'd like to have you."
"All right," replied Hal, resignedly. "I'll have to hold in, I suppose. But I'm crazy to go. And, Ken, the cowboys and lions are not all that interest me. I like what you tell me about forestry. But who ever heard of forestry as a profession?"
"It's just this way, Hal. The natural resources have got to be conserved, and the Government is trying to enlist intelligent young men in the work—particularly in the department of forestry. I'm not exaggerating when I say the prosperity of this country depends upon forestry."
I have to admit that I was repeating what I had read.
"Why does it? Tell me how," demanded Hal.
"Because the lumbermen are wiping out all the timber and never thinking of the future. They are in such a hurry to get rich that they'll leave their grandchildren only a desert. They cut and slash in every direction, and then fires come and the country is ruined. Our rivers depend upon the forests for water. The trees draw the rain; the leaves break it up and let it fall in mists and drippings; it seeps into the ground, and is held by the roots. If the trees are destroyed the rain rushes off on the surface and floods the rivers. The forests store up water, and they do good in other ways."
"We've got to have wood and lumber," said Hal.
"Of course we have. But there won't be any unless we go in for forestry. It's been practiced in Germany for three hundred years."
We spent another hour talking about it, and if Hal's practical sense, which he inherited from father, had not been offset by his real love for the forests I should have been discouraged....