The Day Stinging Nettle Lost The Fight

Finding Strength within suffering

Sashenka Paatz
5 min readMay 19, 2020


It was the summer of 2011. The humidity had my hair dancing in all directions as I went about my own business in the backyard.

The alpacas had been fed. The horses’ stalls had been mucked. The ducks had been watered. The chicken eggs had been gathered with no casualties.

After completing my chores, I could spend my time how I wanted. Like most 12-and-a-half-year-olds living in the country, I chose to spend my free time outside.

The farm. (Photo by Sashenka Paatz)

Alpacas frolicked in the near distance. Horses chomped on hay in the field behind the barn. Ducks splashed in their makeshift pond. Chickens clucked and pecked at the ground wherever they pleased.

Other than the animals, I was on my own that day. I was enjoying the “me time”.

The neighbour kids were away on vacation. My little sister had a play date at a friend’s house. Dad was at work in town. Mom was busy preparing lunch and staying cool in the farmhouse kitchen.

I had decided to make a fort in the tall grass and weeds close to the alpaca pen. The goofy creatures watched me from behind their long lashes, as I used all my little muscles to cut away at the thick greenery with mom’s kitchen scissors. I’d stealthily stolen the scissors from the kitchen drawer after putting the chicken eggs safely in the fridge. Mom was none the wiser.

Mom called for me to come in for lunch, but I was so busy making progress with my environmentally friendly fort that I didn’t hear her voice. Mom must have seen me slaving away in a jolly manner and decided to go ahead and eat without me. So, I was not disturbed.

But then, as I sat in my fort, snipping back blades of grass and prickly weeds that engulfed my petite frame, I was disturbed by something else. My feet felt as though they were on fire. A burning sensation was creeping up my legs.

Suddenly, I was very aware of the monstrous plant that made up the walls of my fort. Every time I brushed up against it, the stingers of a thousand tiny thorns shocked my body.

In a desperate attempt to free myself from the pain, I charged out of the skinny exit path in my fort. The plant that once looked so…



Sashenka Paatz

Canadian journalist, traveller and teacher with a passion for creativity, organization, teaching and advocating for others.