Sorry, but I won't be opining today. I'm happy to say that after nearly 5 years, I'm close to finishing the first draft of my book, "Secret Voices From the Forest," so I need to concentrate on that for the duration. Never fear, I shall return shortly with personal commentary. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.
Happy Birthday to me, so I'm going to the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie and then late lunch at the local Chinese restaurant. Otherwise, I'm only going to say that it looks good for having the book, at least in draft, completely finished by the 1st of June. Then of course, there'll be lots of rewrites, I'm sure–but it's going to be kind of a milestone anyway.
Well, in the category of "Now what?" I've begun looking into self-publishing. Anyone reading this (IS there anyone reading this?) who has tried to get a book published will have experienced the endless rejections from agents and publishers–for years, sometimes. I don't think I have the stamina to put up with years of rejection, particularly if there's another way to go.
So yesterday I attended a meeting of the New Mexico Book Association, and discovered that there are a LOT of people doing the same thing. I met a nice woman who has agreed to edit my manuscript. That seems to be stage one. Then I'll have to have help with layout, then find a printer, either do the publishing myself (as in ISBN numbers, bar codes, blah-de-dah), or find someone else for that, and then–here's the BIG one–figure out how to market and distribute it myself.
Anyway, I feel a bit more hopeful about getting the book into solid form eventually, but it will involve a lot of time, effort, and alas, money–of which I do not have an excessive amount. Well, well, life is hard.
This week the Pacific Madrone gives a message, a quote from my upcoming book, Secret Voices From the Forest. It lives somewhat inland from the actual Pacific Northwest Rainforest, in a slightly drier climate, but is placed in the Rainforest section of the book.
Interesting facts about this unique ecosystem, also a quote from the book:
Temperate rain-forests are found along coasts in the middle latitudes, occurring between the tropics and the polar regions–about 23 degrees to 66 degrees latitude, both north and south of the equator. The world's largest of these are on the pacific coasts of North America, stretching from northern California through southern Alaska.
Because the climate is more extreme than that of a tropical rain-forest–summer temperatures can rise to nearly 80◦ and winter temperatures to nearly freezing–evergreen broadleaf trees are replaced by evergreen coniferous species, which are better adapted to shed snow and to photosynthesize in cold temperatures. The colder climate attributes to slower decomposition of forest litter, made even slower by the acidity of conifer needles. A large tree that falls can take almost as long to decompose as it did to reach a prodigious size.
These forests are among the most productive in North America, and contain some of the world's largest and long-lived trees. Many trees reach well over 300 feet in height. These forests consist of so much bio-mass, in sheer volume of living and decaying material–trees, mosses, shrubs, and soil–that they are the most massive ecosystem on the planet–at about 500 tons per acre, at least 4 times greater than that of any comparable area in the tropical rain-forest.
It's May Day, or Beltane. Snow here in New Mexico, and there are lots of birds at the feeder that I've included in the drawings in my book: White-crowned sparrows, towhees and purple finches, and the bluebirds and flycatchers are busy with nest-building.
I'm going to be using this section for posting excerpts from my forthcoming book, "Secret Voices From the Forest: Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees," coming out who knows when. This week is a bit from the description section about the Coastal Redwood, the tallest species of tree in the world, located ONLY in a narrow strip along the NW coast of North America–470 miles long by 50 miles wide.
"Most redwoods grow more successfully from sprouts [than seed], which grow around the circumference of the tree trunk. Shortly after sprouting, each sprout will develop its own root system, with the dominant sprouts forming a ring of trees around the parent root crown or stump. Sprouts can achieve heights 8 feet in a single growing season. When the parent tree dies, a new generation of trees rise, reaching 65 feet tall in 20 years. This ring of trees is called a "fairy ring".
"Amazingly, [Coastal Redwoods] have no taproots. Instead, their root system is composed of shallow, wide-spreading lateral roots that extend over one hundred feet from the base, intertwining with the roots of other redwoods. When a tree is inundated with silt from flooding, and the roots are buried under more soil, the tree adapts by growing new roots on top of the old, which then become anchors against the wind."
Seems clear to me - if we don't learn to love our home, we're going to lose it—or at least access to it, as IT will most likely survive us, if not entirely intact. So the primary goal of this website is to engender curiosity about something in nature—anything, whether it's an amoeba or the oceans. Whatever does it for you —get active, if you can, or get interested and support, if you're like me and are not able or inclined to tromp around in the woods.
I am an artist and writer, living off grid, in a strawbale house on the high mesa near Taos, New Mexico. I have four cats, and live amongst a variety of wildlife including, but not limited to: coyote, pronghorn antelope, elk, endless bunnies and jackrabbits (and myriad other rodents), ravens, mountain bluebirds, rattlesnakes, and tarantula.
The cats stay in, everything else stays out.