Farmers 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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