The forest was my playground. When I was growing up the people of my country suffered terrible hardships under communist rule. As hard as life was for my people, I was very fortunate. I grew up in the forest. My Father worked as a Forest Ranger, he was in charge of administering and protecting 1000 hectors of forest. We lived in a small house in the middle of the forest and were self-sufficient. As a young girl, my parents encouraged me to learn about nature for myself. I spent most of my days exploring. Nobody was allowed in this forest. It was off-limits to all except the countries communist ruler. Ceausesu and his wife would visit every year to hunt and camp. I loved my forest. The animals, birds, trees, grass, rivers and lakes were my constant playmates. I observed the seasons, new life and death, I watched the grass grow, I watched the water flow, I watched the stars at night and saw violent storms. I saw how the rocks, wind, water, sky, animals, plants and insects interact together. I could feel energy flowing from the nature around me and I slowly learned that all of nature is connected. Up to this point I had very little interaction with anyone from the outside. I had a free mind and spirit and had not been programed by society. The forest provided everything we needed. I was wealthy then, but it would be many years before I would understand this.