I must leave in an hour or so to pick up a prescription, and especially to leave two large bags of accumulated cast-off's at the VFW station. Casting about for a little time filler, I went out to water the plants. To my joy, it seems to have rained overnight; the very air smells like damp dirt. I smelled it in until I was saturated!
Some time ago I mentioned a book I was reading, Finding the Mother Tree. Suzanne Simard grew up in a logging family in the Pacific northwest, and reading her story of her history immediately evoked the other logging and mettle classic, Sometimes a Great Notion. Simard grew up instinctively understanding the interconnectedness of the great fir and birch forests her family had logged and cultivated for two centuries.
Her understanding of the interconnectedness of trees grew, built on her successive degrees, from a biology under graduate degree to a PhD in interspecific carbon transfer in ectomycorrhizal tree species mixtures. In fir and birch forests, the two trees transfer carbon dioxide, nutrients and news throughout the year. When logging clear cuts are replaced by a new species of tree, intended to grow faster and better, that result does not occur and untold acres of bare earth blow away, wash away, yield scrub bushes rather than acres of replacement lumber and paper.
Simard learned literally from the ground up, measuring the transfer of carbon and nutrients between coniferous and deciduous in countless documented parcels of land, maintained and measured for ten, twenty, thirty years. Her work caused the Canadian government to revise its policy on clear cuts and replanting, to avoid the previous disasters and foster healthy replacement forests.
The heavy reading of nutrient exchanges, carbon transfers, electrical movement through synapses is lightened by the inclusion of Simard's life story throughout, including a terrible trip through breast cancer. She accumulated a vast network of students she involved, colleagues who supported her, and audiences she converted as she overcame a deep shyness and difficulty in speaking over men who refused to understand the trees needed understanding.
Every forest talks among itself, helps other trees become established, shares information about trouble and success. There are many stands of Mother Trees, that are the hub of the vast underground communication network. Simard has a web site; I've included the link.