Tuesday, May 8, 2018

In Love With Trees: David Haskell

This short talk by David Haskell gives you an overview of his sensitivity to spending time in the Forest amongst the trees and in Nature. It should be an inspiration to each of us.

Haskell's second book, The Songs of Trees, was published in April 2017 by Viking. It won the 2018 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Natural History Writing, and, Public Radio International's Science Friday named The Songs of Trees of the Best Science Books of 2017.

Haskell received his B.A. in zoology from the University of Oxford and his Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from Cornell University. In 2009 he was named the Carnegie-CASE Professor of the Year in Tennessee.

I had an opportunity to hear Haskell speak here in Boulder on April 3, 2018 at the Univ. of Colorado. His writing has been described as by part biologist, part poet, and part Zen monk, because he's focusing on the contemplative aspects of observation and of the multitude of connections between so many living things which can be seen by just paying attention to one small area amongst trees. First and foremost, he raised his concern over the hijacking of our thoughts and our time by electronic devices. He pointed out that in Tennessee, the wide variety of snails which exist in his treed, unglaciated area, are the connection between the soil and what happens above the ground. He also pointed out how birds require large amounts of calcium to lay eggs, or they can literally deplete the bones in their bodies in order to reproduce, and an important source of calcium is the snail shell. Then, he pointed to acid rain which leaches the calcium from the soils and harms this biological cycle. There was a sense of impending doom to his talk, in part, because of the vast amounts of forest which are disappearing from the planet annually because of our anthropocene.

On a personal note, I have a goal of hiking amongst the trees (mostly pines) for an hour daily, and if weather or something else prevents that from happening, I miss it terribly. I find it nourishing and I gather energy from it. I tell people that "it is my physical health, my mental health, it connects me with Nature, and it clears my mind". That is why I saw this as an important post to make here - a sharing of my own value system.