I have read so many great books over the past few months - I'm probably going to do a post with a big, long list of titles because there's no way I can catch myself up with a post for each!
The Overstory by Richard Powers is the latest book I read and feel compelled to write about. My brother-in-law recommended this book to me, and I am so glad he did!
This book has a lot of depth to it. It wasn't a book I sped through, and I was OK with that. For me, taking my time with the story and letting the messages sink in was important. I really feel altered by it and it's a tale I'll never forget.
The book opens on an Iowa farm. The story progresses into a heartbreakingly honest reflection on the preciousness of family and the traditions that are carried over time. Including the joy and/or burden that comes with both. The first chapter struck me hard. It certainly stirred up emotions inside of me that I wasn't expecting. I was sobbing over its simple beauty. I can still feel the words and see the farm with its grand Chestnut tree. While reading this chapter (and the ones to follow) I couldn't help thinking about the amazing things that can come from one seed. One seed, in whatever form it takes, can do incredible things.
As the chapters progress, you meet new characters in different settings who eventually start to cross paths with each other. Their passion for nature, and specifically trees, unites them in important ways, to do important work - many times putting their lives and reputations on the line. The way they believe so wholeheartedly in what they committed to do for the sake of all trees is inspiring - whether it was physically protecting them or helping people better understand how vital and special they are.
Upon researching some of the things shared in the book about trees (wanting to see if they were facts or not) I discovered one of the main characters is based on an incredible ecologist named Suzanne Simard. If you read this book, I have a feeling you'll pick out who I'm referring to quickly!
A message that I took away and intend to keep is to "Give in." There is a point in the book when there is a terrible storm and characters living in a tree to protest it being cut down are almost thrown to their death. One had more experience than the other, and upon seeing her partner struggling against the wind and rain, yelled, "GIVE IN!" A great reminder that can be used in everyday life. Speaking for myself, at least. Surrender. Go with it. Struggling isn't going to help. Give In.
Ultimately, this is a love story about trees and how we take them for granted. Trees are more amazing than I ever could have imagined. After reading this book, I'm an even bigger tree hugger. I look up. I look down. I notice. I take a deep breath and let the trees intoxicate me. Every tree I meet, I take a moment to appreciate. The trees on our property are used to me talking to them, but now one or more of them get a pat and encouraging word almost daily.
If you are a nature lover, a tree hugger, a person that cares about the well-being of our world, this book is for you. Ooze through it. Sit with it. And most importantly, hug a tree and a plant a seed before, during, or after reading it!
Closing Note Inspired by This Book: There are so many beautiful, extraordinary, simple, complex, tiny, huge things happening around us every single day. It's absolutely devastating that we can't take them all in at once. Appreciate them. Marvel at them. Give them a round of applause. Nature sprouts, lives, and dies - and we don't SEE it. Moments go by and we don't SEE them. Seasons go by and we don't SEE them. Years go by and we don't SEE them. And they're right in front of us. Happening to us. Thinking about this almost sent me into a downward spiral. Thankfully, it also gave me good perspective. We need to SEE as much as we can, even if that's not everything. It might mean slowing down for a second and being mindful in a world that just keeps going faster and faster, but we'll miss so much more if we don't ground ourselves in the present and give thanks.
I always enjoy trying out different types of annual plants in my planters that surround our house. I am big on perennials, but annuals give me a chance to change up the exterior of our home each year with new pops of color.
I inadvertently chose red, white, and blue for my large pots. I must have been feeling patriotic that day! I tried to keep the color combinations classic this year – red, white, blue, yellow. I’m normally all over the board, choosing whatever I like, but I tried to be a little more coordinated this year.
I wanted to share more information about one of the plants I bought to add a pop of red. I got the basic impatiens and petunias, of course, but in addition, I tried out a plant that is new to garden centers this year – Berried Treasure® Red (Strawberry Fragaria ananassa). It is a plant that produces rich red flowers along with edible strawberries!
In our community, we have a large Burmese population. They have huge gardens overflowing with produce. I noticed some have produce growing right outside their front doors – like cucumbers and other vine vegetables. This concept stuck with me, and I am always thinking how I might do that at our house. I feel like planting Berried Treasure was a baby step in the right direction.
I planted them in mid-May (I planted super late this year because of unpredictable weather in Iowa) and they have established themselves well. They are already quite full and producing up to 4 ripe, delicious berries (in total from all 4 plants I have) daily so far. I have them on the east and south sides of our house. East side is part sun, south side is full sun. They’re doing well in both settings. They seem pretty heat tolerant, they haven’t required a ton of water.
They are graded “Valedictorian” for being both ornamental and having tasty fruit. It is a continuous, long bloomer and doesn’t need to be deadheaded. It also attracts bees! They last from spring into fall, which is always appealing.
I highly recommend this plant if you are looking for a high performing plant with rich color and/or if you are a strawberry lover. I eat the berries while I’m deadheading my petunias…so they don’t last long. Happy summer!