Day: November 28, 2016

The Importance of Roots

As the late fall weather arrives in Washington and the leaves cover the ground, my thoughts have turned to one of the best natural history/science books I’ve read in years. The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell is both very modern and very old fashioned in its outlook.  Haskell’s work is a meditation of a year’s worth of observation on a small patch of old growth forest – which he refers to as his mandala – near Sewanee, Tennessee. Every few days Haskell visits this patch of land and captures his observations.  The chapter for December 3rd is entitled “Litter,” as the forest floor is covered with leaves and other dying plants, similar to what we see along the C&O Canal, Rock Creek, or Sligo Creek here in Washington.  The first half of the chapter is an explanation of the leaves, mushrooms, bugs, seeds, fungal strands, and the unseen microbial community in the soil of his mandala.  But after noting that ecological science has yet to fully digest the discovery …