Whether reflecting on the writer's role, recalling his far-flung travels, or offering watchwords—respect, discipline, hunger—for young writers, the late Barry Lopez speaks here with the same attentiveness, compassion, and wisdom that made Arctic Dreams, Of Wolves and Men, and many other books unforgettable. Recorded in 2010 with Julia Martin, a South African writer who has also collaborated with Gary Snyder, these conversations contain much to treasure and ponder, from Lopez’s commitment to writing as a way “to help” a world struggling with climate catastrophes and divisiveness to his belief that “you can learn about god anywhere…you just have to pay attention”—as Lopez always did, interrupting these dialogues, for instance, to watch the activities of herons and mergansers on the river by his door.
Morgan-Grenville pledged to follow the Manx shearwater for a year, from its breeding grounds off the British coast—where he was first enchanted by them during childhood visits to his grandmother, herself something of a force of nature--to its summer digs off Argentina, allow himself “to be changed, or not, by what” he learned, and make the facts available to raise awareness of this extraordinary bird, which, unlike so many others, is not only supremely adapted to its lifestyle, but, so far, is beating the odds of climate change, plastic, rats, and the rest, to thrive. Telling their story with gusto, heart, and humor, Morgan-Grenville revels in the history and habits of this “ultimate flying machine,” a 400-gram creature that doesn't touch land for four years after it leaves its burrow at ten weeks old and makes its way alone to South America, navigating by a keen sense of smell and continuous adjustment to the winds to travel at the rate of roughly 55 kmph and complete the 10,000 or so miles in under two weeks—a feat brought into sharp focus in the comparison with Morgan-Grenville’s own fraught trans-Atlantic airplane flight.
The Heartbeat of Trees is both a celebration of the wonders of trees--and an accessible go-to source for arboreal facts--and a cry of outrage at how recklessly we treat them. But “what we need right now is hope, not despair," Wohlleben writes, and this lovely, uplifting spring read provides it. Wohlleben offers a wonderful journey into the very pulse and hidden lives of trees and shows how a simple walk in the woods can't help but lead to both an appreciation of trees and optimism about a bright future--for them and for us.