armers once knew how to make a living fence and fed their flocks on tree-branch hay. Rural people knew how to prune hazel to foster abundance: both of edible nuts and of straight, strong, flexible rods for bridges, walls and baskets. Townspeople cut beeches to make charcoal to fuel ironworks.
Shipwrights shaped oaks to make hulls. In order tp prosper communities cut their trees so they would sprout again. Pruning the trees didn’t destroy them.
Rather, it created healthy, sustainable and diverse woodlands. From these woods came the poetic landscapes of Shakespeare’s England and of ancient Japan. The trees lived longer.
William Bryant Logan travels from the English fens to Spain, California and Japan to rediscover and celebrate what was once a common and practical ecology-finding hope that humans may again learn what the persistence and generosity of trees can teach.
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