Book Review: Keepers of the Trees

“Keepers of the Trees: A Guide to Re-Greening North America” by Ann Linnea, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN  978-1-61608-007-5

Ann Linnea, co-author of The Circle Way: A Leader in Every Chair (Berrett-Koehler), is also a botanist, a speaker, and “listener of story.” She writes in her introduction to Keepers of the Trees, “I have always been fascinated by the living ecosystem that holds my life.” 

  Linnea was told that a New York publisher would never publish a book on trees but they did – and in full colour! Many of the gorgeous photos were taken by Linnea over the course of six years as she travelled to Vancouver Island (from her home on Whidbey Island, Washington), the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, and urban forests in Los Angeles and Chicago to interview people who have devoted their lives to trees.

  Linnea’s stories reveal a great reverence for trees and the keepers of them. Her own story which friends “coaxed” her to include is entitled, “The Botanist Grandmother.” In it, Linnea recalls her ten-week kayaking trip around Lake Superior in 1992 and how the trees of the forested perimeter became her companions and guides.

  Merve Wilkinson, ninety-eight at the time of the book’s printing, is included among the fourteen keepers of the trees. Wilkinson supported himself and his family by carefully managing the timber resources on his 136 acres in Yellowpoint; yet, “there is more standing timber now than when he began harvesting his land sixty-seven years ago.” He says, “The product coming out of the forest must take second place. The welfare of the forest must come first.”

  Laura Robin learned to be a tree pruner in Vancouver and returned to the foothills of Montana. Andy Lipkis has been instrumental in planting over two million trees in Los Angeles. Bud Pearson let the “art of wood turning soften and transform his Vietnam-ravaged soul.” Native carver Russell Beebe “brings a lifetime of experience in understanding how to let the wood teach him to bring the story forward.” And there are nine other extraordinary people whose stories are included in the book. 

  In case you were wondering, the book is printed on recycled, wood free paper. It contains so much good information about trees and ends with some “Tree-Keeping Suggestions.”

  “This is our job – to notice, to appreciate nature, to become inspired, and then to act. The tree stands its ground and offers itself to our experience, and if we show up, we become keepers of the trees.” 

Mary Ann Moore is a poet, writer and creator of a mentoring program called Writing Home.