Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she's been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls of James Cameron's Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.
Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths--that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.
Simard writes--in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways--how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies--and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.
Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them--embarking on a journey of discovery, and struggle. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey--of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world, and, in writing of her own life, we come to see the true connectedness of the Mother Tree that nurtures the forest in the profound ways that families and human societies do, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.
PUBLISHED BY KNOPF
This is Book 6 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.
This was not what I expected it to be! And in a good way! I love a book about trees and this is definitely about trees, but also about a woman and her family who have grown up around trees. And that connection with trees carries through into her adult life and gives her that inquisitive mind to want to go beyond just the basics of tree care, and to explore the science and work out the links to disease and fungi.
Alongside the real sense of family you get from this book, you also begin to understand nature a little more and it was nice to become more involved in the science of trees and see how the author pushed herself, almost to the point of obsession, with her work and quest for answers. She's not afraid of hard work and getting her hands dirty, and I enjoyed reading about her research, amidst the backdrop of her own personal life, not all of which was positive.
It's almost as if the trees gave her life in the distraction they provided while dealing with sadder times, and her determination and patience is to be admired!!