Naturalists who can effortlessly combine sound science with sparkling prose are rare indeed, and worth celebrating. Among those living among us today is William Bryant Logan, a certified arborist, New York Botanical Garden faculty member and regular garden writer for The New York Times and other publications. Not only has his writing about trees and other natural wonders won a slew of awards, but he’s also a prominent translator of classic Spanish literature, including works by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Federico García Lorca and Ramón del Valle-Inclán. His 1995 book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth was made into the documentary film Dirt! The Movie in 2009. Other beloved tomes by this writer/scientist include Oak: The Frame of Civilization and Air: The Restless Shaper of the World.
Logan comes to Oblong Books in Rhinebeck on Thursday, March 28 to talk about his latest volume, Sprout Lands: Tending the Endless Gift of Trees. The book offers both practical knowledge about how to live with trees to mutual benefit and hope that humans may again learn what the persistence and generosity of trees can teach. Once, farmers knew how to make a living hedge 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 their beeches to make charcoal to fuel ironworks. Shipwrights shaped oaks to make hulls. No place could prosper without its inhabitants knowing how to cut their trees so they would sprout again. Pruning the trees didn’t destroy them; rather, it created the healthiest, most sustainable and most diverse woodlands that we have ever known.
Discover the mysteries of pollarding, coppicing and other fascinating, millennia-old symbiotic traditions of woodland management from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on March 28 at Oblong Books & Music, located at 6422 Montgomery Street (Route 9) in Rhinebeck. Admission is free. To learn more about Logan’s work, visit www.williambryantlogan.com.
William Bryant Logan’s Sprout Lands, Thursday, Mar. 28, 6 p.m., Free, Oblong Books & Music, 6422 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck, www.oblongbooks.com