Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (link below) is just a lovely book. When I first heard about it, I knew I wanted to read it. (If you follow me on Instagram, you know this too.) An immersion into plants, poetry, and botany? Yes please!
The second section is my favorite: “Tending Sweetgrass.” This section is more about plants as they relate to humans, relationships, parenting, and home. In this section, she delves into her sense of belonging (or lack thereof) in the different regions she’s lived in. I identified with this section deeply as someone who hasn’t always been able to live in regions that feel like “home” to me.
The author uses metaphor and parable, and it’s beautifully done, but these sections were less powerful to me. Instead, I gained the most from the sections that seem most connected to her own lived experience. I also loved some of the deep descriptions of the kind of spiritual nature of sitting alone in a patch of wild strawberries, harvesting wild nuts, and the life cycle of the salamander (an animal that I’ve encountered in life and in dreams recently).
Parts of this book are dense, and I found myself skipping through. The end is a beautiful, poetic, and urgent , warning, plea, defense against the rampant destruction of Mother Earth. Sometimes I have a hard time reading this kind of difficult material, but she does it so artfully that I was able to understand it in a new way.
If you love plants, animals, people, and Mother Earth, you’ll want to read this book.
Lines I loved:
“[B]ecoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depend on it (9).
“Plants know how to make food and medicine from light and water, and then they give it away” (10).
“[R]estoring habitat, no matter how well intentioned, produces casualties” (92).
“Being a good mother includes the caretaking of water” (94).
“You can smell it before you see it, a sweetgrass meadow on a summer day” (156).