Category Archives: The Songs of Trees

The Songs of Trees: airwaves

PRI and the BBC have recently run a couple of short interviews combined with my field recordings of trees. I hope you’ll enjoy these acoustic experiences. They’re best listened to with earbuds or speakers, but the vibe comes through even on a phone.

BBC World Service’s Outlook. I was in a studio in Nashville talking via satellite with Joel Cox in the UK. Joel then layered sounds into clips of the interview. I love the changing sonic texture, drawn from many of the trees that I write about in the book.

PRI’s The World. I recorded this interview in Boston, in studio and at the Arnold Arboretum. Carolyn Beeler and I talked about the book and about the process of listening. She then wove some of my field recordings into our conversation, along with pictures for the webpage. She does a fabulous job of using multiple avenues into the story of people-tree connections.

It’s a great honor to be featured on these shows. I hope you’ll enjoy the great work of the presenters and editors.

Update on upcoming events:

Asheville, NC: Malaprop’s Bookstore. May 31st, 2017.

New York, NY: Metropolitan Society of Natural Historians. June 3rd, 2017. Register here. [Other NYC events TBA. I’m in the city for much of the summer and open to venue suggestions.]

Easton, MD: Adkins Arboretum. June 8th, 2017. 4pm – 6pm at the Academy Art Museum 106 South Street.

Millbrook, NY: Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. June 9th.

Sewanee, TN: School of Letters. 4:30pm June 28th, 2017.

Clermont, KY: SONICBernheim. July 9th, 2017.

Sewanee, TN: Young Writers’ Conference. July 10th, 2017.

Life is network. (And book update.)

My musings on leaf biology, familiar to Ramble readers who might remember my fungus experiment, are featured in this month’s NPR blog. I wrote a guest article discussing the networked nature of maple leaves (and all life…).

I’ve been on the road giving readings from The Songs of Trees. Thank you to all who’ve come out! Upcoming venues include Nashville, Portland (OR), Corvallis, San Francisco, Denver, and Pasadena. I’ll be in Asheville, St Louis, Millbrook (NY), and Maryland later in the season. I hope to have one or more NYC events as well.

If you’ve read the book and have thoughts about its stories and voice, please submit comments/review at Amazon’s book page!

 

 

 

 

 

The Songs of Trees, published today

New book, published today:

After five years of growth in the underground humus of writing and editing, The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors has lifted its leaves into the sunlight.

Ed Yong, writing this morning in The Atlantic.com, gives a great overview of the book.

You can purchase the book at bookstores or online. Many libraries have copies on the shelves. Links to bookstores:

IndieBound (connect to local bookstores), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, iBooks

Over several years I visited a dozen trees, sitting with each to listen to its story. The trees are located in very different places – the Amazon rainforest, Shakerag Hollow in Sewanee, the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, a city park in Denver, an ancient hearth in Scotland – but they all, in their own ways, tell of life’s surprising interconnections.

The book’s web pages have more information about the book, including sound clips, photographs, a Q&A, and advance praise from writers and scientists. Outside Magazine just published a profile of my work by Paul Kvinta, featuring the Manhattan street tree that I befriend in one of the book’s chapters.

I hope you’ll enjoy these tales of biology and human culture. I’d be very grateful if you’d consider sharing news of the book’s publication with friends and family.

With my gratitude,

David

Lectures and readings:

I’ll be speaking at the following venues in the coming months, with more to be announced soon. I’d love to see you there. If you have friends or family who might be interested, please pass along the date.

Tacoma, WA: Slater Museum, University of Puget Sound. April 7th, 2pm.

Tacoma, WA: King’s Books. April 7th, 7pm.

Seattle: Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave, Seattle, WA. April 8th, 7:30pm.

Cambridge/Boston, MA: Arnold Arboretum and Harvard Museums of Science and Culture. 6pm, April 12th, 2017.

Sewanee, TN: University of the South. Convocation Hall. 4:30pm, April 17th.

Chattanooga, TN: Benwood Auditorium, University of Tennessee Chattanooga. April 18th, 7pm. Lecture to benefit Tennessee River Gorge Trust. Hosted by the UTC Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Science.

Oxford, MS: University of Mississippi. April 20th, 2017.

Atlanta, GA: Atlanta Audubon and Chattahoochee Nature Center. 6pm, April 22nd, 2017, reservation required. (Location: Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell, GA 30075)

Nashville, TN: Parnassus Books. April 30th, 2pm.

Portland, OR: Powell’s Books. May 3rd, 2017. (7:30pm, Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside St., Portland.)

Denver, CO: Tattered Cover Bookstore. 7pm May 4th, 2017. (LoDo store: 1628 16th Street, Denver)

Point Reyes Station, CA: Point Reyes Books. May 7th, 2017.

San Francisco, CA: California Institute of Integral Studies. May 10th, 2017.

Pasadena, CA: Vroman’s Bookstore. 7pm, May 11th, 2017.

Asheville, NC: Malaprop’s Bookstore. May 31st, 2017.

Easton, MD: Adkins Arboretum. June 8th, 2017. 4pm – 6pm at the Academy Art Museum 106 South Street.

Millbrook, NY: Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. June 9th.

Sewanee, TN: Young Writers’ Conference. July 10th, 2017.

St Louis, MO: Missouri Botanical Garden. July 25th, 2017. Wild Ideas Worth Sharing Speaker Series and Visualizing Biodiversity for a Better World.

Byron Bay, Australia: Byron Bay Writers Festival. August 4-6, 2017.

Canberra, Australia: National Library of Australia. August 9th, 2017.

Bendigo, Australia: Bendigo Writers Festival. August 11-13, 2017.

Nashville, TN: Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, TN. Oct 13th and 14th, 2017.

Fairlee, VT: Northern Woodlands Conference. The Hulbert Outdoor Center. Oct 20th-22nd, 2017.

Birmingham, AL: Audubon Society. Dec 7th, 2017.

The Songs of Trees: headed to press!

I’m thrilled to announce that my next book, The Songs of Trees, is scheduled for publication on April 4th, 2017. After several years of traveling and writing, the proofs are in and the book is moving into production. 

songsoftreesmediumres

The cover art features a photograph of young, pink leaves of Lecythis pisonis, “Monkey Pot Tree,” in Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador, the location of my opening chapter. (Pete Oxford / Minden Pictures / Getty Images.)

As publication date approaches I’ll share more stories from my journeys, including some photos and audio clips from the trees whose lives I studied. For now I’ll say that my method at each tree was simple: I sat, listened to each tree and its many neighbors, and tried to attend to the many songs wrapped into and around each tree. What is a tree song? The many harmonies, discords, and relationships — ecological, cultural, physiological, evolutionary — that give a tree its life. Through these masters of connection, we learn something of the networks that give life its substance and beauty.

The following overview from my publisher, Viking, gives a taste of the places that I visited and the songs that I heard:

The author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Forest Unseen visits with nature’s most magnificent networkers — trees 

David Haskell’s award-winning The Forest Unseen won acclaim for eloquent writing and deep engagement with the natural world. Now, Haskell brings his powers of observation to the biological networks that surround all species, including humans.

Haskell repeatedly visits a dozen trees around the world, exploring the trees’ connections with webs of fungi, bacterial communities, cooperative and destructive animals, and other plants. An Amazonian ceibo tree reveals the rich ecological turmoil of the tropical forest, along with threats from expanding oil fields. Thousands of miles away, the roots of a balsam fir in Canada survive in poor soil only with the help of fungal partners. These links are nearly two billion years old: the fir’s roots cling to rocks containing fossils of the first networked cells.

By unearthing charcoal left by Ice Age humans and petrified redwoods in the Rocky Mountains, Haskell shows how the Earth’s climate has emerged from exchanges among trees, soil communities, and the atmosphere. Now humans have transformed these networks, powering our societies with wood, tending some forests, but destroying others. Haskell also attends to trees in places where humans seem to have subdued “nature” – a pear tree on a Manhattan sidewalk, an olive tree in Jerusalem, a Japanese bonsai– demonstrating that wildness permeates every location.

Every living being is not only sustained by biological connections, but is made from these relationships. Haskell shows that this networked view of life enriches our understanding of biology, human nature, and ethics. When we listen to trees, nature’s great connectors, we learn how to inhabit the relationships that give life its source, substance, and beauty.”

Publication date is six months away, but pre-orders are already open:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Books-A-Million

IndieBound

iBooks

It is a joy and a great honor to share what I hear and learn, both in book form and here on my blog. To all who accompany me in my rambles by reading, sharing, commenting: many, many thanks.