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Finding the Mother Tree. Another good book about women outdoors

"Finding the Mother Tree" by Suzane Simard is a scientific autobiography  about Simard's amazing research into the connectivity of forest sytems.  But it's impossible to miss how deeply Simard's love of outdoor recreation informs her science.  She writes entire chapters about  backpacking and backcountry skiing trips that not only clear her mind but but lead to profound aha! insight moments.  When she's not talking science,  Simard describes mystical encounters with wolves, grizzly bears, Douglas firs, mycorrhizal networks and other animals and plants that seem to guide her towards the next discovery.   Eventually, she realizes that her painstaking research confirms Indiginous knowledge about complex relationships between forest organisms.  By trying to maximize profits and production, the timber industry has been doing it all wrong.   Simard writes about the sexism she encountered working for the Canadian forest service and as an academic scientist.  Her idea of the "mother tree" springs at least in part from social judgments that she's spending too much time on her career to be a "good mother" (her daughter, on the other hand, wants to follow in her mother's footsteps and be a forest researcher).   Simard's relationship to the foest is a metaphor for human relationships.  Her message is that nurturing the natural resilience of forest systems can restore right relationships if we don't destroy the whole system with wrong-headed mismanagement. 

2 Replies

@AmyB - Thank you so much for this recommendation! I am definitely adding it to my list.

The title jumped out at me because of an old tributary I was familiar with when I lived in Panamá — the Mother Tree Trib. Surrounded by seemingly endless primary forest, a local biologist had determined that one particularly tree along this river was the oldest in the valley. It's enormity was breathtaking and understanding its significance made it even more so. I look forward to diving into a book that captures the same sort of feelings. Now I just need to finish the ones I'm in the midst of first!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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Wow!  That sounds like a magnificent tree!   

One thing I loved about "Finding the Mother Tree" is the unappologetic female persepective.  When Simard published her first article in the journal "Nature" the editors compared her research to the World Wide Web (they call it the "wood wide web").  Simard changed the metaphor from tech to nurturing by naming the Mother Trees.