If you read the professional literature, you quickly get the impression that the well-being of the forest is only of interest insofar as it is necessary for optimizing the lumber industry.
– Peter Wohllenben, Introduction in The Hidden Life of Trees, xiii
If you read the professional literature of any kind, if you observe the scenes around us, you not only get the impression of interest in optimization, but also the pervasiveness of global neoliberal market economies in our daily lives and common practices…
Slow down, breathe deep, and look around. What can you hear? What do you see? How do you feel?
…forests matter at a more fundamental level than most of us realize.
– Peter Wohlleben, Introduction to the English Edition in The Hidden Life of Trees, xi
Forests and mountains never cease to amaze me. When I think about the mountains I’ve clambered across and the trees that have sheltered me, I think, “if only I could stay here – if only this was home.”
What I like about these questions is that they could take place at any instance, anywhere. Whether we’re hammering away in dingy cubical at work, blazing a trail through a snowy forest, or wiggling through crowds of people, we should “slow down,” wonder why we aren’t at peace like the trees in the forest, and act in ways so we can be.
becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it… our relationship with the land cannot heal until we hear its stories
– Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, 9
As someone born and raised in bustling cities, how can we take care of the land in our concrete, steel, and glass towers? We dare not even touch the earth, as asphalt rolls and sizzles at our feet. Inside hulking, chortling machines, we make our way to fluorescent square footage, where we go about our “work” – not to heal the ground, but to exploit it. We are everything but indigenous. We are foreign and strive to be alien.
I am detached, but I want to be joined.
cosmologies are a source of identity and orientation to the world. They tell us who we are… they are like a compass: they provide an orientation but not a map. The work of living is creating that map for yourself… [which] will be different for each of us and different for every era.
– Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, 7
How strong is the pull of a compass? Or a series of compasses? How do we read compasses? Some must be harder to understand than others. Perhaps the difference lies in the reading.
For all the Keepers of the Fire
and my grandchildren
yet to join us in this beautiful place
– Robin Wall Kimmerer, the dedication in Braiding Sweetgrass
One day, I’d like to write a book, to give and dedicate to someone else. I’d like to be a keeper and a giver of the fire and of water, for “women are the Keepers of Water” and tending fires is what keeps us alive (94).