In this educational and reassuring volume on ecology and sustainability, New York City arborist Logan (Air: The Restless Shaper of the World) sets out to explain processes of regeneration and ways in which trees feed off one another. He observes that though “a tree is in a forest... there is also a forest in each tree,” in that “every new branch arises on its parent’s stem in exactly the same way that its first parent arose from the dirt.” When the trunk of almost any leafy tree or shrub breaks, burns, or is cut low, the author notes, it will inevitably sprout again. Logan, a San Francisco Bay area native, returns to a favorite childhood spot on the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park to reacquaint himself with the impressive trees there, and also visits UC Berkeley to examine those near the campus’s clock tower and gather insight on pruning and maintenance. In subsequent chapters, Logan goes abroad, to, among other countries, Spain and Japan, the latter boasting a number of revered coppice oak forests. Logan’s graceful survey will reassure nature-loving readers that, even in the face of devastating wildfires, nature can set itself again on the right course. With 15 b&w illus. (Apr.)
William Bryant Logan’s vision of a world in which humans and trees work together to mutual benefita world that has existed in the past and can exist again in the futureis cause for deep joy, for celebration and hope.
Logan’s words are full of beauty, awe, and practical wisdom. At a time when forests are in crisis worldwide, his call to deeper, more intimate connection with our leafy cousins is both timely and important. Logan breaks out of the false dichotomy between romanticized protection and selfish exploitation of trees, showing that careful, enlightened blades and flames give life to people, trees, and community.
Infused with intimately detailed attention to science and culture, this deeply nourishing book invites us to reclaim reciprocity with the living world. Logan reminds us of our capacity for 'a life where head, heart, and hand'and treework together.
William Bryant Logan’s enthusiasm is contagious, his knowledge jaw-dropping. He has poured heart and soul into this beautiful book, his writing poetic but also practical, hopeful, brilliant. Logan is the Bernd Heinrich of trees. His work is heroic. When the book ends I am an unremitting, fiendish tree nerd. I had no idea I would fall this hard.
If you feel profound respect and affection for trees, maybe even a touch of awe, then you’ll find a kindred spirit in William Bryant Logan…Logan takes us around the globe to show how woodlands have supported human life, and how humans, in turn, have cared for woodlands.We are the richer for the understanding he shares with us.
An arborist celebrates the intrinsic creativity of trees.
When Logan (Air: The Restless Shaper of the World, 2012, etc.) was hired to train and care for 92 trees in front of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, he became obsessed with sprouting—the ability of any leafy tree or shrub to grow new branches after its trunk is cut or burned—and with the ancient practices of coppice and pollard that nurtured this regenerative power. Resprouting allows a tree to stay alive after damage or disease. "Eighty percent of the trees in a leafy forest are not virgins from seed," the author reveals, "but experienced sprouts," some extending the life of a tree for thousands of years. Logan's lively obsession inspired him to travel the world—to England, Spain, Sierra Leone, Norway, Japan, and the redwood forests of California—to investigate the rich and intimate connection between trees and humans. His astute attentiveness and curiosity have resulted in a radiant, insightful amalgam of botany, history, travel memoir, anthropology, archaeology, philosophical meditation, and, not least, environmental ecology. In coppicing, he explains, trees are cut or burned down to the ground; in pollarding, trunks are cut higher. Both practices yield astounding new growth: "the wood jumps back into the sky," attaining heights of 6 feet or more in the first year. Beginning in the Mesolithic age, humans depended on the two practices for energy, warmth, and structure. Trees could provide straight, strong vertical branches for building; curved branches for barrel hoops; small branches to make into charcoal. In the Basque Country, an elaborate form of pollarding gave boat builders thick, curved timbers for a ship's hull. With a "very active relationship to trees," humans listened and observed as trees taught them how to cut, when to stop, and how to wait, lessons that are still salient. "If we are to get out of the dead end that our mastery of nature has backed us into," Logan writes, we would do well to heed the intelligence of trees.
A graceful homage abounding in fascinating discoveries.
Tree pruning is perhaps an unlikely topic for engaging nonfiction, but arborist and acclaimed nature writer Logan's (Dirt; Oak; Air) exploration of traditional woodland cutting is just that. He describes two related pruning methods that have been used for millennia to harvest wood without killing the tree, coppice and pollard, the first occurring at ground level and the second done at trunk height of eight to ten feet. After he's offered a position pollarding plane trees outside New York's Museum of Modern Art, the author travels the world (England, Spain, Norway, Japan) to learn everything he can, to satisfy his "obsession with sprouting and with the antiquity and scope of people's life with trees." Bryant's curiosity about the old ways is evident on nearly every page as he shows how, throughout history and up until the last couple centuries, humans had an active relationship with trees through their various pruning practices; a "reciprocal" relationship, one that was beneficial for both people and woodlands. VERDICT Bryant knows trees, and much more. Tree lovers—even those who consider pollarded trees ghastly and strange—will be drawn in by Bryant's vast cultural and scientific references, and charmed by passages that read like prose poems.—Robert Eagan, Windsor P.L., Ont.