Living with trees

 

Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees
Nalini M. Nadkarni
336 pages, hardcover: $24.95.
University of California, 2008.

Between Earth and Sky sets out to describe the many ways in which trees sustain us. When author Nalini Nadkarni was a girl in suburban Maryland, after school she would climb one of the eight maples in her family's yard. Those early days spent up high — climbing, playing and reading — had a profound effect on her, which she shares throughout this unique book.

After graduating from college, Nadkarni was pulled in several professional directions.  She studied dance in Paris and almost took to the stage professionally before committing to science. She is now a highly regarded ecologist at Evergreen State College in Washington, but her varied interests remain evident throughout this book, which draws on science, poetry, fine art and even psychology.

Nadkarni builds on Abraham Maslow's famous "hierarchy of needs," which starts with physical basics like shelter and moves up to abstract notions like self-actualization. This theory helps explain what really matters to humans, and Nadkarni uses her own version of it to show how trees meet many of our most vital needs. "From the first glimmers of humanity's dawn," she writes, "we have evolved with trees." Even now, millennia later, when synthetics have replaced many wood products and most people live among skyscrapers, not redwoods, we still feel "affinities" to trees, she says.

You might expect the author to speak only of the spiritual or aesthetic elements of trees — the reflections of a treehugger walking in the woods. But true to her "needs" framework, Nadkarni starts with basic scientific information about trees and such seemingly mundane things as the use of wood in making our houses and paper products. She then moves on to the "higher" elements, such as health, play, spirituality and mindfulness.

Interdisciplinary work is often risky; an author who mingles science with poetry, personal stories and even theology goes out on a limb. Some readers may find this aspect of Between Earth and Sky to be a stretch. Most, though, will be intrigued by Nadkarni's play of ideas. Nadkarni has been climbing trees for many years, and she understands the balance and skill required to take risks so far above the ground.

High Country News Classifieds
  • CABIN FOR RENT IN KELLY
    1 room, furnished cabin, full kitchen, full bath, washer/dryer in basement. No smoking, no vaping, no marijuana, no parties, no drugs. View of the Tetons....
  • GRANT WRITER (PART-TIME, FREELANCE CONTRACT)
    High Country News seeks an energetic, eloquent and highly organized grant writer to support a growing foundations program. This position works closely with our Executive...
  • ASSOCIATE PROGRAM MANAGER
    Associate Program Manager ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our State Parks thrive. From redwood groves and desert springs...
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • FREE RANGE BISON AVAILABLE
    Hard grass raised bison available in east Montana. You harvest or possible deliver quartered carcass to your butcher or cut/wrapped pickup. Contact Crazy Woman Bison...
  • CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE - OKANOGAN LAND TRUST (NORTH CENTRAL WA)
    Do you enjoy rural living, wild places, and the chance to work with many different kinds of people and accomplish big conservation outcomes? Do you...
  • CARDIGAN WELSH CORGIS
    10 adorable, healthy puppies for sale. 4 males and 6 females. DM and PRA clear. Excellent pedigree from champion lineage. One Red Brindle male. The...
  • A CHILDREN'S BOOK FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS!!
    "Goodnight Fossil Fuels!" is a an engaging, beautiful, factual and somewhat silly picture book by a climate scientist and a climate artist, both based in...
  • DIGITAL ADVOCACY & MEMBERSHIP MANAGER
    The Digital Advocacy & Membership Manager will be responsible for creating and delivering compelling, engaging digital content to Guardians members, email activists, and social media...
  • DIGITAL OUTREACH COORDINATOR, ARIZONA
    Job Title: Digital Outreach Coordinator, Arizona Position Location: Phoenix or Tucson, AZ Status: Salaried Job ID Number: 52198 We are looking for you! We are...
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST VOLUNTEER PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Deschutes Land Trust is seeking an experienced Volunteer Program Manager to join its dedicated team! Deschutes Land Trust conserves and cares for the lands...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator who is passionate about conservation and...
  • INDIAN COUNTRY FELLOWSHIP
    Western Leaders Network is accepting applications for its paid, part-time, 6-month fellowship. Mentorship, training, and engaging tribal leaders in advancing conservation initiatives and climate policy....
  • MULESHOE RANCH PRESERVE MANAGER
    The Muleshoe Ranch Preserve Manager develops, manages, and advances conservation programs, plans and methods for large-scale geographic areas. The Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area (MRCMA)...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 52 state/territorial affiliates and more...
  • ASSISTANT OR ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL HUMANITIES
    Assistant or Associate Professor of Environmental Humanities Whitman College The Environmental Humanities Program at Whitman College seeks candidates for a tenure-track position beginning August 2023...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) in Crested Butte, CO is seeking an enthusiastic Executive Director who is passionate about the public lands, natural waters and...