SCIENCES

The Oak Papers

HarperOne. Feb. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780063037946. $27.99. NAT HIST
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In a time of spiritual and relational upheaval, Canton (Univ. of Essex; Ancient Wonderings) writes a meditative reflection on the permanence of trees in a transitory world. He particularly seeks solace with a venerable 800-year-old Honywood Oak tree in North Essex. This tree, and a handful of others, beckons to him over a number of years. Getting to know the trees compels him to slow the pace of his life in order to fully understand the true wonder of the trees’ existence. As his fascination with the tree grows, Canton seeks out others who are enamored with the tree, ranging from experienced woodsmen to artists and furniture makers. He researches texts, both ancient and new, from Druidic lore to the work of modern scientists whose research into mycelial networks strongly indicate that trees communicate with one another. His study of folklore and historical accounts in order to better understand the close relationship between humans and trees is especially powerful.
VERDICT An entirely understated but overwhelmingly thoughtful book that seeks to remind us of the deep history that humankind shares with trees. For all interested in learning more about how we interact with nature, past and present.

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