The Wild Trees
BAH! Once again, my brother-in-law, Clint, managed to get me a super awesome Christmas gift which ended up in the upper percentile of my gifts received. What did I get him? Oh, just something off his ThinkGeek Wishlist that apparently someone else got him too!
A big F.U. to you, Clint, for getting me a gift that rocked while my gift lacked originality on all fronts.
So what was this gift that has irked me so? It is the book “The Wild Trees” by Richard Preston. The book is about the hikers, botanists, lichenologists, inventors and climbers who all contributed to discovering the tallest trees in the world; climbing them; and studying the surprising plants, fungi and animals that made their home nearly 400 feet above the ground. Man actually walked on the moon decades before he knew what diversity lived up at the top of the giant redwoods. In the redwood canopies, the scientists discovered over a hundred species of lichen, moss, ferns, salamanders, crustaceans, huckleberry bushes and then my favorite– earthworms living in the soil deposited on the giant branches.
As you can tell probably tell from my intro, I loved the book. I am a notoriously slow reader. It took me about a year and a half to complete Stephen Ambrose’s D-Day: The Climatic Battle of WWII (and a lot of Omaha Beach related nightmares). This book took me two days. It was quite fascinating and I recommend it with two disclaimers:
1) It did take me a while to adjust to the novel-like narrative. I believe I cringed when I got to this section of the second paragraph:
“His name was Marwood Harris, and he was a senior at Reed College, in Portland, majoring in English and history. He walked off to the side of the parking lot and unzipped his fly. There was a splashing sound.”
But, I adjusted and in the end, I rather enjoyed the approach the author took. It was neat way to get to know and understand the key players better.
2) There are no photographs. That was almost as frustrating as Clint‘s impeccable Christmas gift giving skills. The book kept describing all these intriguing sites such as giant fire caves inside the tree or deadly “widow-makers” (broken branches) dangling from the tops. It made me want to SEE said items. But all they provided was some lame-o drawings and sketches. Boo!
But, I did find that the author has some of his climbing pictures on his website. I couldn’t find no stinking fire cave, but there are some cool shots in the mix. And I was able to ascertain that the woman who had intercourse at the top of a giant redwood was indeed pretty good looking. 🙂