Women of the Woods

Group of women in the woods

Guest post by Susan Benedict, Pennsylvania Forest Landowner

Women of the Woods hold a unique role in today's society. In an era of urbanization, we are becoming a repository of ecological knowledge. We seek to partner with our land to promote healthy sustainable woodlands. We are natural nurturers and will pass our knowledge to the next generation. But let’s face it: We are a bit different from our more urban sisters.

My WOW education started early. I was five when Dad took me with him on a dove hunt. I did ok with the sitting still part, but apparently my pale skin was visible to the overflying birds so Dad smeared me with mud to make me less visible. He got his limit of birds after that but it was hard to explain to my horrified mother (not a WOW) how I could have gotten so dirty.

I progressed in my outdoor education to hunting, fishing, farming and logging. I prospered in this environment but I began to realize I was a bit different from my peers at school, college and finally from other mothers once I had kids. I decided to embrace these differences and celebrate being a WOW.

By now you might be wondering how you can tell if you are a WOW. Footwear differences are very obvious - WOW dislike high heeled shoes because 1.) We can't figure out how to walk in them properly and 2.) We don't want to break an ankle and have to stay out of the woods till it heals. We are ecstatic that Red Head FINALLY makes snake-proof boots in women's sizes. We own waterproof sneakers and hiking boots and snow packs and have more wool socks than nylon stockings

Clothing is another area of difference. We WOW tend to have more field pants, shirts and down clothes than other women and yes - we even have a favorite camo pattern. Mine is Mossy Oak New Break-Up. We have an assortment of ball caps with various conservation organization logos and at least one from a chainsaw manufacturer.

Sometimes I feel I lead a dual life. A few years ago a good friend of mine gave me a Prada wallet for an early Christmas present. I found myself pulling it out of my camo hunting jacket to pay for gas during deer season. The female clerk gave me a very weird look.

Sometimes you wonder where you went wrong. Once I needed porcupine quills for a craft project. I realized how different I am from non-WOW when my husband proudly presented me with a road killed porcupine - and I was thrilled! Other women get jewelry or candy - I'm happy with road kill.

Here are some other indications you are a confirmed WOW:

  1. You own a chainsaw but not a manicure kit
  2. You have eaten something made with acorns
  3. You are the only one at your monthly girls night out that has a pocket knife to cut your food
  4. You have tick repellent in your car
  5. You actually sort of like the smell of bug spray
  6. You have more pictures on your phone of tree anomalies, wildflowers and wildlife than your kids or grandkids
  7. You know what a trail camera is and are considering purchasing the new black-out model
  8. You carry a compass because sometimes GPS doesn't work under the tree canopy
  9. Your monthly magazine subscriptions include Tree Farmer and QDMA
  10. You know what QDMA stands for (and NRCS, WHIP and EQIP )
  11. You like to look at deer but consider them an invasive species to be controlled
  12. Your first aid kit includes a blood clot packet - because you can envision a situation where a big band aid just isn't gonna cut it
  13. Your personal library doesn't have the latest New York Times Bestseller but does include a tree identification manual, a wildflower book and the whole Forest Stewardship Series
  14. When your girlfriends ask you what you've been up to, their eyes glaze over at the mention of your latest forestry treatment which you continue to explain in excruciating detail
  15. You skip a workshop on how to decorate with flowers but attend one on chainsaw safety
  16. You consider a ball cap a hair styling aide
  17. You would rather go for a walk in the woods by yourself than go to any mall

Let’s face it - we are different from typical women - but who wants to be typical anyway?

Let's celebrate being Women of the Woods!