When it first came out in 2018, I read The Overstory by Richard Powell. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard appears to contain the endless years of detailed research and life story behind one of the characters in Powell’s novel. In fact, in her Acknowledgements, Simard thanks Powell for helping to make her life’s research more accessible to the general populace.
Simard’s book is part memoir, part detailed scientific explanations of her research and how a forest works and lives, and part how difficult it is to be taken seriously in the science world if you are female and your research contradicts the norm. She grew up in Canada. Her family made a living cutting down trees. Her family and life was and is intricately interwoven with nature. Even as a child, she was obsessed with tree roots, crawled around on the forest floor to see what lived there. A specific fascination was all the types and colors of fungi that grew just under the surface. Why were they there? What purpose did they serve? Later this became her life’s work, leading her to discover how trees of varying species use these fungi to communicate with and nurture each other. Of special significance are the “mother trees”, older, larger trees who provide nurturance to all the younger trees around them, recognize their kin, favoring them as they nurture all the other trees as well.
Traditionally, loggers and timber companies clear cut, then replanted with seedlings of all the same species of evergreen. It took Simard decades of research to convince them that it was not only the poorest way to grow new trees but also the least economical. For decades they saw her as some nutty woman, laughed at her research, laughed at her, even using epithets to her face. Ultimately, however, her work led to changes in how forestry is practiced.
This book relates her long struggle to save the forests. For those who are science minded, the final pages of the book contain 32 pages of Critical Sources. If you are interest in learning more about “mother trees”, go to http://mothertreeproject.org. It defines the term “mother tree” and explains how trees communicate. It also contains videos.
Instead of walking around the neighborhood, today my neighbor and I took a long walk along one of the paths in Bonelli Regional Park ten minutes from where we live. There are over 30 miles of hiking and bike trails in the park. We took the easy paved walk overlooking the lake.
In summer people swim and boat here. Now it is mostly hiking, dog walking, biking, and fishing.
On this side of the lake many houses, some very large, overlook the lake. A few have vineyards or orchards on the slope near the houses.
Mt Baldy rises in the background. Several of the mountains remain snowcapped.
Several species of ducks, but mostly mallards, and a few geese reside here. In this area we saw a man fishing.
Most days I take a walk around my neighborhood. Usually, I do not take my phone so no photos. However, earlier this week after seeing some lovely flowers and sights, I decided to take the phone so I could take some photos. Here is what I found along the way.
This is the back of the Taiwanese Buddhist Center near my house.
Poppies growing wild near the sidewalk.
Flowers near the poppies.
Southern California is bougainvillea heaven.
A lot of these colorful trees everywhere–a type of tree I always associated with way farther east not here.
Succulents and agaves do well here.
So many kinds of trees grow here including all types of eucalyptus which many consider invasive and also a potential fire hazard.
Referred to as freeway daisies because all colors can be found everywhere and all times of year.
This is also rosemary heaven and everywhere the rosemary is in full bloom.
Much of the toilet paper used in the US comes from the boreal forest in Canada. It is the tree to toilet pipeline as one environmental organization calls it. The Canadian boreal forest is home to many indigenous people as well as numerous wildlife species. Additionally, it is the world’s most carbon-dense forest. Below are some photos from the Internet.
Major companies clear-cut a million acres of this forest yearly for disposable paper products, much of it toilet paper. The leading culprits include such brands as Angel Soft, Cottonelle, and Charmin. Some brands are better choices if you care about our planet. Below is a chart provided by the NRDC to help you choose your toilet paper wisely and contribute to saving the planet.
At 10,065 feet Mt. Baldy rises above the San Gabriel Valley, home to nearly 1.5 million of which I am one. The highest mountain in Los Angeles County, every day she looms in the distance quite visible from my front yard. For months last winter, she remained snow capped, sometimes with snow half way down the mountain.
People seemed shocked when they discovered I had not yet driven up the mountain. Yesterday, as I was driving up Monte Vista, I decided it’s time and continued past Baseline where Monte Vista becomes Padua. At the traffic light, I turned right onto Mount Baldy Road. Up I went. You know it’s going to get steep when signs telling slow traffic to turn off ahead show up regularly.
I pulled off about half way up and took these two photos.
A bit farther up, signs appear saying they will tow your car if parked in the way of snow plows. It is about the same time that super sharp switchbacks start. I have driven all over the mountain West and this road has some of the most extreme switchbacks I’ve ever experienced. I kept thinking, “This would not be much fun in the snow.” Keep going and the road ends at a parking lot of the ski resort so they must do a good job keeping the road clear in winter. I stopped off and on to take photos. Up this high there are ponderosa pines and fir trees.
I drove as far as cars can go, to the ski resort parking lot, adjacent to the ski lift which goes to a restaurant farther up the mountain. I’ll try that another day.
After all this driving, I decided to stop at a restaurant by the side of the road in Mt. Baldy Village. I wanted to eat on the patio but no eating outside yesterday–yellow jackets.
Decades ago three of us attended the same two room elementary school, Clay Center, located at the corner of the intersection of two gravel, country roads, surrounded by rolling farmland in Northwest Missouri.
On Wednesday morning, we strolled though part of The Huntington Gardens and one of the art galleries there.
Ramona, the youngest one of us, is visiting her brother, Craig, who lives in Palm Springs. She loves succulents so we headed to that part of the gardens first.
Ramona and my daughter strolling along one of the wider pathways.
Life brought me to the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California late last summer. A few months later, my childhood friend from elementary school in the farmlands of Northwestern Missouri moved back to Palm Springs. Today I drove out to the desert to see him, Craig Prater. I arrived a little early so drove around, took a walk downtown, and took some photos. We were so intent on catching up and visiting, I forgot to take a photo of Craig and me together. Here are photos I took as I walked and drove around.
Desert mountains surround Palm Springs. It is hot compared to where I live. When I returned to my car after lunch, the thermometer said 121. It really was not quite that hot, only 103. 1.25 hours later when I arrived back home, it was 87 at my house.
I took this to include parts of the palo verde tree and the mountains. Palm trees are everywhere as you can see from the photos.
Palm Springs is Mid-Century Modern architecture country. This photo and the following photos are some examples of the types of houses I saw as I drove around.
Every year Laguna Beach has a Garden Tour. We decided to take a look and celebrate Mother’s Day one day early–my daughter, grandson, his girlfriend, and I. To be honest the tour was a bit disappointing but Laguna Beach itself definitely was not. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and will return.
We decided to do the cardio tour–yes, that is what they called it. The shuttle drops everyone off at Garden 1, you follow a map, and walk the rest of the tour. The option is to take the shuttle just about everywhere. We did not do that. Here are a few photos I took along the way.
A door I loved in an alley along the way.
The final street of the tour was the street closet to the ocean.