Lynda V. Mapes Discusses 'Witness Tree'

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Lynda V. Mapes Discusses 'Witness Tree'
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Lynda V. Mapes Discusses 'Witness Tree' says
Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes discusses her new book, "Witness Tree," a refreshing look at the realities of climate change. She’ll be in conversation with Florangela Davila, Managing Editor at Crosscut.

There are a number of iconic trees in America—the Redwoods, the Sequoias, and the Dover Oak on the Appalachian Trail are just a few. All of them hold a special place in the heart of nature lovers. These are old trees, and they all are living testaments to many years of life and change.

In "Witness Tree: Seasons of Change with a Century-Old Oak" (Bloomsbury) Lynda V. Mapes finds her own iconic tree in the heart of the Harvard Forest in Massachusetts. It’s a red oak, thirteen stories tall, and over one hundred years old. Mapes saw this oak as a living timeline, one that could help us better understand the impact of climate change. She compares it to what were once called “witness trees” in the eighteenth century, trees that towered over the landscape and became prominent local landmarks used by surveyors. This red oak would be a marker against which she could measure our impact on nature.

Mapes paints an awe-inspiring portrait of this particular red oak. She digs into its roots and climbs into its branches to get a closer look at the abundance of life is shelters. We see how the oak gifts acorns to birds, squirrels, and deer mice, how it shelters garter snakes, ants, ferns, and lichens. Mapes also brings in a variety of experts—foresters, big tree hunters, climate change scientists—to provide different perspectives on the tree and the information it holds inside its boughs.

Despite all the harsh truths that "Witness Tree" presents, it’s an inspiring read. “I came out of the woods to write with a heart full of hope, inspired by the wonder of nature and our place in it,” Mapes says. Mapes will appear in conversation with Florangela Davila, Managing Editor at Crosscut.

Lynda V. Mapes is a reporter at The Seattle Times, specializing in the environment, natural history, and Native American tribes. In addition to Witness Tree, she is the author of "Elwha: A River Reborn, Breaking Ground," and "Washington: The Spirit of the Land."

Florangela Davila is the Managing Editor at Crosscut. A veteran Seattle journalist, she worked for 14 years as a staff reporter covering race, immigration and features at The Seattle Times. She's been a longtime arts contributor to KNXK-FM as well as Crosscut. Her work has also appeared on NPR and in Seattle magazine. Florangela is a former faculty member at the University of Washington. Prior to Crosscut, she served as the Voices of the Region director for Seattle nonprofit Forterra where she launched Ampersand the print magazine and executive produced Ampersand Live, a stage show.

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By: The Seattle Public Library