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Book reviews from The Free Lance-Star.

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As Earth Day approaches

This just might make  a gardener of you

By Drew Gallagher

For The Free Lance-Star

I RECOGNIZE the major inconsistency in recommending that readers go out and buy a book about saving trees and planting trees.  I could take the cowardly way out and suggest that you buy the book only for your Kindle or other e–reading device, but as one who prefers the written page and feel of a hardbound book it would be hypocritical of me.

So I’ll offer this compromise instead: Read “The Man Who Planted Trees” by Jim Robbins and then go plant a tree.

In fact, I dare you to read the book and not feel compelled to plant a tree or at least donate to one of the conservation groups that have sprung up around the efforts of David Milarch, a Michigan native who had a near-death experience (complete with angels or at least luminous life force companions) then returned to his body and Earth with a mission to save the planet’s great trees.  After a few missteps mostly due to lack of funding, Milarch founded the Champion Tree project with the aim of genetically preserving some of the largest and longest-living trees on Earth and planting their genetic offspring throughout the world.  It is a noble undertaking and one that has far-reaching implications.

In Robbins’ words:  “We can wait around for someone else to solve the problem of climate change and the range of other environmental problems we face, from toxic waste to air pollution to dead zones in the oceans to the precipitous decline in biodiversity, or we can take matters into our own hands and plant trees.  It may not be the best time to plant a tree, but there is no better time.”

Robbins does a nice job of interspersing Milarch’s journey with stories and anecdotes about the sanctity of trees and about the possibility that trees exist and live beyond the limited scope that we ascribe to them.  There is some evidence that when a tree is injured it gives forth an energy or alert to other trees around it.  There have also been studies conducted that show that simply living and walking among trees can reduce depression and, potentially, help fend off illness.  Trees are truly remarkable and even more so in the limited amount we actually know about them.

“The Man Who Planted Trees’ is an important book that relates how important the efforts of David Milarch have been and continue to be.  They are efforts that we can adopt and undertake as a people and as a society if not for ourselves then for our children and for our grandchildren.

Drew Gallagher  is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania.

THE MAN WHO  PLANTED TREES: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet     

By Jim Robbins

(Spiegel & Grau, $25, 216 pp.)


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