The Witness Tree

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Mapes takes us through her year living with one red oak at the Harvard Forest. We learn about carbon cycles and leaf physiology, but also experience the seasons as people have for centuries, watching for each new bud, and listening for each new bird and frog call in spring.

We savor the cadence of falling autumn leaves, and glory of snow and starry winter nights. Lynda takes us along as she climbs high into the oak's swaying boughs, and scientists core deep into the oak's heartwood, dig into its roots and probe the teeming life of the soil.

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She brings us eye-level with garter snakes and newts, and alongside the squirrels and jays devouring the oak's acorns. Season by season she reveals the secrets of trees, how they work, and sustain a vast community of lives, including our own. The oak is a living timeline and witness to climate change. While stark in its implications, Witness Tree is a beautiful and lyrical read, rich in detail, sweeps of weather, history, people, and animals.

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It is a story rooted in hope, beauty, wonder, and the possibility of renewal in people's connection to nature. Mapes adopts a narrower lens but is equally ambitious in Witness Tree , which gets at sweeping ideas by looking at one century-old oak tree in Massachusetts.

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Among many other subjects--forest regeneration, acorn production, pollen records--Mapes has plenty to say about our early spring s. She incorporates conversations with scientists and woodland specialists and ably weaves their research into her larger chronicle of change and adaptation. What makes Witness Tree such an irresistible read is Mapes's love of language combined with a great talent at rendering nerdy information readable.


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To walk with Mapes through these pages is not only to enjoy the charm of rural New England, but also to experience the global effects of our civilization--for better and for worse--on an intimate scale. Lynda Mapes has managed to find a new and intriguing way into this question, and her book will be read with great profit by a great many. Lyrical, engaging, and wise, Mapes invites us to understand trees as individuals rather than a collective forest.

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This collection is the last of Frost's books that demonstrates the seamless lyric quality of his earlier poems. The most popular poem of this volume is "The Gift Outright", a patriotic poem that was recited at the presidential inauguration of John F. Kennedy in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved 29 July Robert Frost.

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