Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees

Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees

Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees

Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees

Synopsis

World-renowned canopy biologist Nalini Nadkarni has climbed trees on four continents with scientists, students, artists, clergymen, musicians, activists, loggers, legislators, and Inuits, gathering diverse perspectives. In Between Earth and Sky, a rich tapestry of personal stories, information, art, and photography, she becomes our captivating guide to the leafy wilderness above our heads. Through her luminous narrative, we embark on a multifaceted exploration of trees that illuminates the profound connections we have with them, the dazzling array of goods and services they provide, and the powerful lessons they hold for us. Nadkarni describes trees' intricate root systems, their highly evolved and still not completely understood canopies, their role in commerce and medicine, their existence in city centers and in extreme habitats of mountaintops and deserts, and their important place in folklore and the arts. She explains tree fundamentals and considers the symbolic role they have assumed in culture and religion. In a book that reawakens our sense of wonder at the fascinating world of trees, we ultimately find entry to the entire natural world and rediscover our own place in it.

Excerpt

Let me stop to say a blessing for these woods …
for the way sunlight laces with shadows
through each branch and leaf of tree,
for these paths that take me in,
for these paths that lead me out.
—Michael S. Glaser, “A Blessing for the Woods’”

Strong brown hands clutched the blue climbing rope, knuckles white. Emil Arnalak, an Inuit born and raised in the tundra of Nunavut, in the far north of Canada, was holding on tight to his lifeline. Above him rose the treetops of a lush coastal forest in Washington State, while my students and I stood six feet below where he dangled. We were teaching Emil how to climb trees so that he could experience the forest canopy, the littleexplored world high above our heads. But this was too strange, and he froze: “Too high! Too high! For me, too high!” he called in the singsong intonation of his native Inuktitut. Until the previous day, Emil had never even seen a tree, and he had rarely climbed anything higher than the stairs of the two-story buildings in his small village of Arviat. By merely being in the forest, he was exploring new territory. By climbing into the canopy, he was entering another world.

I had invited this tundra dweller, along with several other people unfamiliar with the life of a forest, to join me here for both my own professional expansion and personal curiosity. As an ecologist who has spent . . .

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