World-renowned canopy biologist Nalini Nadkarni has climbed trees on four continents with scientists, students, artists, clergymen, musicians, activists, loggers, legislators, and Inuits, gathering diverse perspectives. In Between Earth and Sky, a rich tapestry of personal stories, information, art, and photography, she becomes our captivating guide to the leafy wilderness above our heads. Through her luminous narrative, we embark on a multifaceted exploration of trees that illuminates the profound connections we have with them, the dazzling array of goods and services they provide, and the powerful lessons they hold for us. Nadkarni describes trees' intricate root systems, their highly evolved and still not completely understood canopies, their role in commerce and medicine, their existence in city centers and in extreme habitats of mountaintops and deserts, and their important place in folklore and the arts. She explains tree fundamentals and considers the symbolic role they have assumed in culture and religion. In a book that reawakens our sense of wonder at the fascinating world of trees, we ultimately find entry to the entire natural world and rediscover our own place in it.
Introduction: View from the Top
1. What Is a Tree?
2. Goods and Services
3. Shelter and Protection
4. Health and Healing
5. Play and Imagination
6. Connections to Time
7. Signs and Symbols
8. Spirituality and Religion
Scientific Names of Trees in the Text
Nalini Nadkarni is the author of Rainforests, with J. Johnson, Monteverde: The Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest, with N.T. Wheelwright, and Forest Canopies, with M.L. Lowman. She teaches in the Environmental Studies Program at The Evergreen State College and is President of the International Canopy Network. Her work has been featured in magazines such as Natural History, Glamour, and National Geographic and she has appeared in numerous television documentaries. In 2002, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to better extend her work to the public.
Nalini Nadkarni is the 2010 recipient of the National Science Board Public Service Award, presented annually to an individual who has made significant contributions in public understanding of science in the United States.
"A lovely work of writing and a rich scientific exploration of trees, suffused with poetry and humanity. Between Earth and Sky takes us on a journey through the wonders of the forest canopy and the web of spiritual and literal connections we have with trees. Nalini Nadkarni is a unique figure in forest ecology—as a pioneering tree climber and explorer, and a topnotch scientist, she's a hero in a world where heroes don't come around often."—Richard Preston, author of The Wild Trees and The Hot Zone
“Besides cutting them, climbing them, and planting them, the urge to anthropomorphize trees, make them into metaphors, and worship them, is practically universal. Many people feel an intimate connection to trees. Nadkarni's scientific, personal, and literary book shows why, on so many levels, this should be so. Although the ancient Chinese thought of humans as the connection between earth and sky, my vote would go to trees.”—Liza Dalby, author of East Wind Melts the Ice
“From mosses to giant figs, from nail polish to turpentine, from poetry to rap music, world-acclaimed arbornaut Nadkarni weaves science and story together as she shares her passion for trees, reminding us that forests and humans are inextricably linked.” –Margaret D. Lowman, author of Life in the Treetops and It's a Jungle Up There
“I came in from an afternoon of splitting firewood to find this book waiting for me in the mail. It's as wonderful a compendium as one could imagine of all things that make trees such special companions, rooted and steady and patient and full of glory.”—Bill McKibben, author of The Bill McKibben Reader
“An epic and lyrical look at trees—an exploration that ranges from molecules and metabolism to ecology, poetry and dance—so breathtaking and eye-opening that it will be impossible to ever look at a tree or think about the world in the same way again.”—Thomas E. Lovejoy, President, The Heinz Center