Information

When was grass seed first imported specifically for aesthetic reasons?


Wikipedia states that the term lawn dates to no earlier than the 16th century, and that in early 17th century Europe the concept of a closely cut lawn was born. I understand that certain luxuries were imported/exported and traveled great distances throughout this time period. Was grass seed ever considered one of these luxuries? If not, then when was grass seed first imported/exported (anywhere in the world) specifically for aesthetic reasons?

Note: Although I mentioned Europe in my question, I am not interested solely in Europe or the 16th-17th centuries for that matter. Perhaps, an example can be found even before this time period? Perhaps, it's only a recent concept?


"The grass family is one of the most widely distributed and abundant groups of plants on Earth. Grasses are found on every continent, and are absent only from central Greenland and much of Antarctica" Wikipedia page It seems unlikely that grass seed would ever have been really all the prized given it's natural abundance basically everywhere. Grass also includes all grains (wheat etc, even rice), which should show it's ubiquity.

You do get grass species far away from their natural habitat (invasive species, those imported to reclaim wetland for do some specific land management role, those in peoples gardens etc) but that's probably a result of hugely expanded trade in the last couple of centuries. I believe it was in the 19th century when people started acquiring exotic ornamental plants in any serious fashion.

The only documented historical movement of grass I can find is the expansion of grain types cultivated in the fertile crescent across Eurasia, but that wasn't aesthetic at all. Movement of the harvest from grass was common though, and rice was newly available and pretty highly prized in medieval Europe… but not aesthetic again.


As noted on the Wiki page, grass seed was imported to the new world to improve pasturage for livestock. A kept lawn is, in its conception, a decorative pasture - a marker of status. So the best grass for pasture was the best grass for commons and household yards where a sheep or goat could graze… which became the standard for purely decorative lawns. As stated in the wiki article, Kentucky Blue Grass and Bermuda Grass are the most productive pasturage in their respective climates - and it's worth noting they're the most prized for lawns and landscaping in those same regions as well.


When was grass seed first imported specifically for aesthetic reasons? - History

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Corn, (Zea mays), also called Indian corn or maize, cereal plant of the grass family (Poaceae) and its edible grain. The domesticated crop originated in the Americas and is one of the most widely distributed of the world’s food crops. Corn is used as livestock feed, as human food, as biofuel, and as raw material in industry. In the United States the colourful variegated strains known as Indian corn are traditionally used in autumn harvest decorations.

What is corn?

Corn is a tall annual cereal grass (Zea mays) that is widely grown for its large elongated ears of starchy seeds. The seeds, which are also known as corn, are used as food for humans and livestock and as a source of biofuel and can be processed into a wide range of useful chemicals.

When was corn first domesticated?

Corn was originally domesticated in Mexico by native peoples by about 9,000 years ago. They used many generations of selective breeding to transform a wild teosinte grass with small grains into the rich source of food that is modern Zea mays.

Why do corn kernels pop?

A popcorn kernel has an extremely hard hull that surrounds a mass of moist starchy endosperm (the food of the embryo). When such a kernel is heated to about 400 °F (about 200 °C), the moisture in the starch turns into steam and builds up pressure until the kernel explodes inside out into an irregular white fluffy mass about 20 to 40 times the kernel’s original size. About 25 corn varieties are suitable for popcorn.

Corn was first domesticated by native peoples in Mexico about 10,000 years ago. Native Americans taught European colonists to grow the indigenous grains, and, since its introduction into Europe by Christopher Columbus and other explorers, corn has spread to all areas of the world suitable to its cultivation. It is grown from 58° N latitude in Canada and Russia to 40° S latitude in South America, with a corn crop maturing somewhere in the world nearly every month of the year. It is the most important crop in the United States and is a staple food in many places.

The corn plant is a tall annual grass with a stout, erect, solid stem. The large narrow leaves have wavy margins and are spaced alternately on opposite sides of the stem. Staminate (male) flowers are borne on the tassel terminating the main axis of the stem. The pistillate (female) inflorescences, which mature to become the edible ears, are spikes with a thickened axis, bearing paired spikelets in longitudinal rows each row of paired spikelets normally produces two rows of grain. Varieties of yellow and white corn are the most popular as food, though there are varieties with red, blue, pink, and black kernels, often banded, spotted, or striped. Each ear is enclosed by modified leaves called shucks or husks. Many industrial varieties of corn are genetically modified for resistance to the herbicide glyphosate or to produce proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to kill specific insect pests. In addition, some strains have been genetically engineered for greater drought tolerance.

Commercial classifications, based mainly on kernel texture, include dent corn, flint corn, flour corn, sweet corn, and popcorn. Dent corn is characterized by a depression in the crown of the kernel caused by unequal drying of the hard and soft starch making up the kernel. Flint corn, containing little soft starch, has no depression. Flour corn, composed largely of soft starch, has soft, mealy, easily ground kernels. Sweet corn has wrinkled translucent seeds the plant sugar is not converted to starch as in other types. Popcorn, an extreme type of flint corn characterized by small hard kernels, is devoid of soft starch, and heating causes the moisture in the cells to expand, making the kernels explode. Improvements in corn have resulted from hybridization, based on crossbreeding of superior inbred strains.

Although it is a major food in many parts of the world, corn is inferior to other cereals in nutritional value. Its protein is of poor quality, and it is deficient in niacin. Diets in which it predominates often result in pellagra (niacin-deficiency disease). Its gluten (elastic protein) is of comparatively poor quality, and it is not used to produce leavened bread. It is widely used, however, in Latin American cuisine to make masa, a kind of dough used in such staple foods as tortillas and tamales. Given that corn flour is gluten-free, it cannot be used alone to make rising breads. In the United States corn is boiled or roasted on the cob, creamed, converted into hominy (hulled kernels) or meal, and cooked in corn puddings, mush, polenta, griddle cakes, cornbread, and scrapple. It is also used for popcorn, confections, and various manufactured cereal preparations.

Corn is also used to produce ethanol (ethyl alcohol), a first-generation liquid biofuel. In the United States corn ethanol is typically blended with gasoline to produce “ gasohol,” an automotive fuel that is 10 percent ethanol. Although corn-based biofuels were initially touted as environmentally friendly alternatives to petroleum, their production diverts arable land and feedstock from the human food chain, sparking a “food versus fuel” debate. Cellulosic ethanol, which is made from nonedible plant parts such as agricultural waste, has a smaller impact on the food chain than corn ethanol, though the conversion technology is generally less efficient than that of first-generation biofuels.

Many parts of the corn plant are used in industry. Cornstarch can be broken down into corn syrup, a common sweetener that is generally less expensive than sucrose high-fructose corn syrup is used extensively in processed foods such as soft drinks and candies. Stalks are made into paper and wallboard husks are used as filling material cobs are used directly for fuel, to make charcoal, and in the preparation of industrial solvents. Corn grain is processed by wet milling, in which the grain is soaked in a dilute solution of sulfurous acid by dry milling, in which the corn is exposed to a water spray or steam and by fermentation, in which starches are changed to sugars and yeast is employed to convert the sugars into alcohol. Corn husks also have a long history of use in the folk arts for objects such as woven amulets and corn-husk dolls.


How European Rabbits Took over Australia

European rabbits were brought over to Australia in the 1800s, and they have caused great environmental damage since then. Experts have even stated European rabbits' introduction to Australia was one of the fastest spreading instances of an invasive mammal.

Biology, Ecology, Conservation

European Rabbit in Australia

European rabbits hurt Australia's native species and crops. Besides their lack of natural predators on the continent, their success is aided by quick breeding: They can birth more than four litters a year with as many as five kits (baby rabbits) each.

Photograph by Mitch Reardon

Australia has had a problem with European rabbits since their introduction to the continent in the late 19 th century. Now, it is estimated that approximately 200 million feral rabbits inhabit Australia.

Introduction of European Rabbits to Australia

In 1859, European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were introduced into the Australian wild so that they could be hunted. Thomas Austin, a wealthy settler who lived in Victoria, Australia, had 13 European wild rabbits sent to him from across the world, which he let roam free on his estate. From this one backyard sanctuary, it took only around 50 years for these invasive (meaning non-native to the land) rabbits to spread across the entire continent.

Their numbers became so large that they destroyed crops and land, leading to soil erosion. They also negatively affected agriculture and plants by overgrazing. Not only did the rabbits wreak havoc on Australian croplands, they contributed to the decline of native plant and animal species. Even the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999&mdashthe Australian government&rsquos main environmental legislation&mdashlists the various effects of feral rabbits, such as land degradation, as a &ldquothreatening process.&rdquo

These rabbits are extremely adaptive, which has played a role in their spread across the Australian continent. All the rabbits need is soil that is fit to burrow and short grasses to graze on. Since these conditions are fairly easy to come by, they can adapt to new habitats such as the deserts and plains of Australia as easily as the meadows of Europe.

Not only are European rabbits adaptable creatures, they are also known for rapidly producing large quantities of offspring. They can reproduce at a young age, and they can reproduce all year round. European rabbits, or hares, can produce more than four litters each year, with two to five kits (baby rabbits) per litter on average.

Efforts To Deal with Invasive Rabbits

Government researchers, biologists, farmers, and others have all attempted to get rid of Australia&rsquos invasive rabbits. Experts have tried a variety of techniques to manage rabbit populations, including fences, poisons, and pathogens some have proven more successful than others.

A few decades after the rabbits first arrived in Australia, they became a major problem for farmers. Initially, both farmers and the government built fences to keep the rabbits from destroying their crops. The government even commissioned the construction of a fence that stretched across Western Australia, from the north to the south. However, fencing did little to deter the rabbits. In the case of the Western Australia fence, it merely fenced in rabbits already living in the state.

Farmers have also been known to destroy rabbit warrens (an underground network of tunnels) in an effort to control the population. Destroying the warrens takes away the place where rabbits are able to safely breed and raise young. Today, farmers continue to use the warren destruction method, which is effective for controlling rabbit populations found on accessible lands.

In the 1950s, the government turned to biocontrol. They released rabbits infected with myxoma&mdasha rabbit-specific virus&mdashinto southeastern Australia. The myxoma virus was the first ever virus to be purposefully introduced to the wild to eradicate an animal. Australian scientist Peter Kerr said of this release, &ldquoThus, inadvertently, began one of the great experiments in natural selection, conducted on a continental scale.&rdquo The myxoma virus leads to myxomatosis, a disease that only kills rabbits. Although the myxoma virus did lead to the deaths of many of the rabbits in Australia, the rabbits eventually developed an immunity to the virus, rendering it ineffective. If the scientists wanted to eradicate these invasive rabbits, they were going to have to try something else.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is another rabbit-specific pathogen that scientists began to describe in the 1980s. This disease is caused by an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus transmitted by flies, and it can kill rabbits in 48 hours once contracted. In 1995, this virus escaped a quarantine facility and made its way to the wild. After its official release to control the population in 1996, RHDV lowered rabbit numbers in Australia by up to 90 percent in especially dry areas. Because flies serve as the viral vector, the disease does not affect European rabbits that live in Australian regions that are cooler and receive high amounts of rainfall. As with the myxoma virus, these rabbits have begun to develop resistance to RHDV.

Viruses were not the only population-control measure used on European rabbits poison proved to be another popular method. One of the main chemicals used to poison rabbits is sodium fluoroacetate, which has a very high mortality rate&mdashmore than 90 percent. Carbon monoxide and phosphine are also used to fumigate burrows and kill any rabbits living inside.

Introducing viruses into the wild seems to be the best, most cost-effective way to lower European rabbits&rsquo numbers. Experts are still working to control the numbers of these mammals, so they do not destroy Australia&rsquos habitats. Currently, researchers are studying more deadly strains of RHDV that may be even more effective at preventing the rabbits from overwhelming the Australian environment. Since the European rabbits are an invasive species, and are extremely disruptive to the local environment, finding a solution to rein in and control their populations is imperative.

European rabbits hurt Australia's native species and crops. Besides their lack of natural predators on the continent, their success is aided by quick breeding: They can birth more than four litters a year with as many as five kits (baby rabbits) each.


The True Story of Kudzu, the Vine That Never Truly Ate the South

As a young naturalist growing up in the Deep South, I feared kudzu. I’d walk an extra mile to avoid patches of it and the writhing knots of snakes that everyone said were breeding within. Though fascinated by the grape-scented flowers and the purple honey produced by visiting bees, I trembled at the monstrous green forms climbing telephone poles and trees on the edges of our roads and towns.

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Introduced from Asia in the late 19th century as a garden novelty, but not widely planted until the 1930s, kudzu is now America’s most infamous weed. In a few decades, a conspicuously Japanese name has come to sound like something straight from the mouth of the South, a natural complement to inscrutable words like Yazoo, gumbo and bayou.

Like most Southern children, I accepted, almost as a matter of faith, that kudzu grew a mile a minute and that its spread was unstoppable. I had no reason to doubt declarations that kudzu covered millions of acres, or that its rampant growth could consume a large American city each year. I believed, as many still do, that kudzu had eaten much of the South and would soon sink its teeth into the rest of the nation.

I’m not sure when I first began to doubt. Perhaps it was while I watched horses and cows mowing fields of kudzu down to brown stubs. As a botanist and horticulturist, I couldn’t help but wonder why people thought kudzu was a unique threat when so many other vines grow just as fast in the warm, wet climate of the South. I found it odd that kudzu had become a global symbol for the dangers of invasive species, yet somehow rarely posed a serious threat to the rich Southern landscapes I was trying to protect as a conservationist.

Now that scientists at last are attaching real numbers to the threat of kudzu, it’s becoming clear that most of what people think about kudzu is wrong. Its growth is not “sinister,” as Willie Morris, the influential editor of Harper’s Magazine, described in his many stories and memoirs about life in Yazoo City, Mississippi. The more I investigate, the more I recognize that kudzu’s place in the popular imagination reveals as much about the power of American mythmaking, and the distorted way we see the natural world, as it does about the vine’s threat to the countryside.

Kudzu might have forever remained an obscure front porch ornament had it not been given a boost by one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns in U.S. history.

In the decades that followed kudzu’s formal introduction at the 1876 World’s Fair Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, farmers found little use for a vine that could take years to establish, was nearly impossible to harvest and couldn’t tolerate sustained grazing by horses or cattle. But in 1935, as dust storms damaged the prairies, Congress declared war on soil erosion and enlisted kudzu as a primary weapon. More than 70 million kudzu seedlings were grown in nurseries by the newly created Soil Conservation Service. To overcome the lingering suspicions of farmers, the service offered as much as $8 per acre to anyone willing to plant the vine.

Many historians believe it was the persuasive power of a popular radio host and Atlanta Constitution columnist named Channing Cope that finally got those seedlings in the ground. Cope wasn’t just an advocate. He was, as cultural geographer Derek Alderman suggests, an evangelist. Cope spoke of kudzu in religious terms: Kudzu, he proclaimed on his Depression-era broadcasts, would make barren Southern farms “live again.” There were hundreds of thousands of acres in the South “waiting for the healing touch of the miracle vine.”

Railroad and highway developers, desperate for something to cover the steep and unstable gashes they were carving into the land, planted the seedlings far and wide. There were kudzu queens and regionwide kudzu planting contests. By the early 1940s, Cope had started the Kudzu Club of America, with a membership of 20,000 and a goal of planting eight million acres across the South.

By 1945, only a little more than a million acres had been planted, and much of it was quickly grazed out or plowed under after federal payments stopped. Farmers still couldn’t find a way to make money from the crop. By the early 1950s, the Soil Conservation Service was quietly back-pedaling on its big kudzu push.

But the myth of kudzu had been firmly rooted. Those roadside plantings—isolated from grazing, impractical to manage, their shoots shimmying up the trunks of second-growth trees—looked like monsters. The miraculous vine that might have saved the South had become, in the eyes of many, a notorious vine bound to consume it.

Though William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and others in that first great generation of Southern writers largely ignored kudzu, its metaphorical attraction became irresistible by the early 1960s. In the often-cited poem “Kudzu,” Georgia novelist James Dickey teases Southerners with their own tall tales, invoking an outrageous kudzu-smothered world where families close the windows at night to keep the invader out, where the writhing vines and their snakes are indistinguishable. “I thought the whole world would someday be covered by it, that it would grow as fast as Jack’s beanstalk, and that every person on earth would have to live forever knee-deep in its leaves,” Morris wrote in Good Old Boy: A Delta Boyhood.

For the generations of writers who followed, many no longer intimately connected to the land, kudzu served as a shorthand for describing the Southern landscape and experience, a ready way of identifying the place, the writer, the effort as genuinely Southern. A writer for Deep South Magazine recently gushed that kudzu is “the ultimate icon for the South. an amazing metaphor for just about every issue you can imagine within Southern Studies.” One blogger, surveying the kudzu-littered literature of the modern South, dryly commented that all you have to do to become a Southern novelist is “throw in a few references to sweet tea and kudzu.”

For many, the vivid depictions of kudzu had simply become the defining imagery of the landscape, just as palms might represent Florida or cactus Arizona. But for others, kudzu was a vine with a story to tell, symbolic of a strange hopelessness that had crept across the landscape, a lush and intemperate tangle the South would never escape. In a 1973 article about Mississippi, Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, wrote that “racism is like that local creeping kudzu vine that swallows whole forests and abandoned houses if you don’t keep pulling up the roots it will grow back faster than you can destroy it.” The photographs of kudzu-smothered cars and houses that show up repeatedly in documentaries of Southern life evoke intractable poverty and defeat.

Confronted by these bleak images, some Southerners began to wear their kudzu proudly, evidence of their invincible spirit. Some discovered a kind of perverse pleasure in its rank growth, as it promised to engulf the abandoned farms, houses and junkyards people couldn’t bear to look at anymore. Now there’s a cottage industry of kudzu-branded literary reviews and literary festivals, memoirs, cartoon strips and events. Kudzu: A Southern Musical toured the country. An endless procession of “kudzu” cafés, coffeehouses, bakeries, bars and even seafood and sake houses are distributed across the South, many of them easily found on the Atlanta-based Kudzu.com search engine.

The myth of kudzu has indeed swallowed the South, but the actual vine’s grip is far more tenuous.

In news media and scientific accounts and on some government websites, kudzu is typically said to cover seven million to nine million acres across the United States. But scientists reassessing kudzu’s spread have found that it’s nothing like that. In the latest careful sampling, the U.S. Forest Service reports that kudzu occupies, to some degree, about 227,000 acres of forestland, an area about the size of a small county and about one-sixth the size of Atlanta. That’s about one-tenth of 1 percent of the South’s 200 million acres of forest. By way of comparison, the same report estimates that Asian privet had invaded some 3.2 million acres󈟞 times kudzu’s territory. Invasive roses had covered more than three times as much forestland as kudzu.

And though many sources continue to repeat the unsupported claim that kudzu is spreading at the rate of 150,000 acres a year—an area larger than most major American cities—the Forest Service expects an increase of no more than 2,500 acres a year.

Even existing stands of kudzu now exude the odor of their own demise, an acrid sweetness reminiscent of grape bubble gum and stink bug. The Japanese kudzu bug, first found in a garden near Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport six years ago, apparently hitched a plane ride and is now infesting vines throughout the South, sucking the plants’ vital juices. In places where it was once relatively easy to get a photograph of kudzu, the bug-infested vines are so crippled they can’t keep up with the other roadside weeds. A study of one site showed a one-third reduction in kudzu biomass in less than two years.

So where did the more fantastic claims of kudzu’s spread come from? The widely cited nine-million-acre number appears to have been plucked from a small garden club publication, not exactly the kind of source you expect a federal agency or academic journal to rely on. Two popular how-to books, one a kudzu craft book and the other a “culinary and healing guide,” are, strangely, among the most frequently quoted sources on the extent of kudzu’s spread, even in scholarly accounts.

Yet the popular myth won a modicum of scientific respectability. In 1998, Congress officially listed kudzu under the Federal Noxious Weed Act. Today, it frequently appears on popular top-ten lists of invasive species. The official hype has also led to various other questionable claims—that kudzu could be a valuable source of biofuel and that it has contributed substantially to ozone pollution.

The hype didn’t come out of nowhere. Kudzu has appeared larger than life because it’s most aggressive when planted along road cuts and railroad embankments—habitats that became front and center in the age of the automobile. As trees grew in the cleared lands near roadsides, kudzu rose with them. It appeared not to stop because there were no grazers to eat it back. But, in fact, it rarely penetrates deeply into a forest it climbs well only in sunny areas on the forest edge and suffers in shade.

Still, along Southern roads, the blankets of untouched kudzu create famous spectacles. Bored children traveling rural highways insist their parents wake them when they near the green kudzu monsters stalking the roadside. “If you based it on what you saw on the road, you’d say, dang, this is everywhere,” said Nancy Loewenstein, an invasive plants specialist with Auburn University. Though “not terribly worried” about the threat of kudzu, Loewenstein calls it “a good poster child” for the impact of invasive species precisely because it has been so visible to so many.

It was an invasive that grew best in the landscape modern Southerners were most familiar with—the roadsides framed in their car windows. It was conspicuous even at 65 miles per hour, reducing complex and indecipherable landscape details to one seemingly coherent mass. And because it looked as if it covered everything in sight, few people realized that the vine often fizzled out just behind that roadside screen of green.

And that, perhaps, is the real danger of kudzu. Our obsession with the vine hides the South. It veils more serious threats to the countryside, like suburban sprawl, or more destructive invasive plants such as the dense and aggressive cogon grass and the shrubby privet. More important, it obscures the beauty of the South’s original landscape, reducing its rich diversity to a simplistic metaphor.

Conservation biologists are taking a closer look at the natural riches of the Southeastern United States, and they describe it as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, in many ways on par with tropical forests. E.O. Wilson, the American biologist and naturalist at Harvard, says the central Gulf Coast states “harbor the most diversity of any part of eastern North America, and probably any part of North America.” Yet when it comes to environmental and conservation funding, the South remains a poor stepchild. It’s as if many have come to view the Southeast as little more than a kudzu desert. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that while vulnerable species are primarily in the Southeast, most lands protected as federal and state parks are in the West. Tennessee, Alabama and northern Georgia (often considered centers of the kudzu invasion) and the Florida Panhandle are among the areas that the authors argue should be prioritized.

In the end, kudzu may prove to be among the least appropriate symbols of the Southern landscape and the planet’s future. But its mythic rise and fall should alert us to the careless secondhand way we sometimes view the living world, and how much more we might see if we just looked a little deeper.

About Bill Finch

Bill Finch is the lead horticulture and science advisor to the Mobile Botanical Gardens in Alabama. He is also the long-time garden columnist for the Alabama Press-Register.


Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)

Buckwheat goes way beyond the pancake mixes we associate with it. Japan’s soba noodles, Brittany’s crêpes and Russia’s kasha are all made with buckwheat. Botanically, buckwheat is a cousin of rhubarb, not technically a grain at all – and certainly not a kind of wheat. But its nutrients, nutty flavor and appearance have led to its ready adoption into the family of grains. Buckwheat tolerates poor soil, grows well on rocky hillsides and thrives without chemical pesticides.

How to be sure you’re getting whole buckwheat: When you see buckwheat on an ingredient list, it is almost invariably whole buckwheat.

Buckwheat is the Grain of the Month in December. Learn more about buckwheat.

Health bonus: Buckwheat is the only grain known to have high levels of an antioxidant called rutin, and studies show that it improves circulation and prevents LDL cholesterol from blocking blood vessels.


Malathion

Malathion is an insecticide in the chemical family known as organophosphates. Products containing malathion are used outdoors to control a wide variety of insects in agricultural settings and around people's homes. Malathion has also been used in public health mosquito control and fruit fly eradication programs. Malathion may also be found in some special shampoos for treating lice. Malathion was first registered for use in the United States in 1956.

What are some products that contain malathion?

Products containing malathion may be liquids, dusts, wettable powders, or emulsions. There are thousands of products containing malathion registered for use in the United States.

Always follow label instructions and take steps to avoid exposure. If any exposures occur, be sure to follow the First Aid instructions on the product label carefully. For additional treatment advice, contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. If you wish to discuss a pesticide problem, please call 1-800-858-7378.

How does malathion work?

Malathion kills insects by preventing their nervous system from working properly. When healthy nerves send signals to each other, a special chemical messenger travels from one nerve to another to continue the message. The nerve signal stops when an enzyme is released into the space between the nerves. Malathion binds to the enzyme and prevents the nerve signal from stopping. This causes the nerves to signal each other without stopping. The constant nerve signals make it so the insects can't move or breathe normally and they die.

People, pets and other animals can be affected the same way as insects if they are exposed to enough malathion. About the same amount of malathion will be taken into the body whether you breathe it in or you swallow it. Malathion is also readily taken into the body through skin, though the amount absorbed will depend on where the exposure occurs on the body. Malathion can become more toxic if it has been sitting for a long time, especially in a hot place.

How might I be exposed to malathion?

You could be exposed to malathion if you get it on your skin or breathe it in, or if you use a product and eat, drink, or smoke afterwards without washing your hands. People who apply products containing malathion may be exposed if they do not wear the proper protective equipment. You could also be exposed to residues of malathion if you ate food that had been treated with this pesticide.

What are some signs and symptoms from a brief exposure to malathion?

People who were exposed to enough malathion to become sick felt nauseated or vomited, had muscle tremors, cramps, weakness, shortness of breath, a slowed heart rate, headache, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Pets could be exposed to malathion if they get into a product by accident, or touch or eat plants that have just been sprayed. Pets will be affected by malathion like other animals. The nervous system is very similar in people and other animals, so animals poisoned by malathion may show signs similar to those observed in people.

What happens to malathion when it enters the body?

In both humans and animals, malathion travels to the liver and kidneys and affects the nervous system. Generally, the body can break down malathion and remove it quickly. Studies in rats showed that most malathion was gone from their bodies within a day of exposure.

Is malathion likely to contribute to the development of cancer?

Researchers fed malathion to rats for up to two years and to mice for a year and a half. They found no evidence of increased cancer in the treated animals. Other studies using higher doses of malathion in rats and mice found that they developed liver cancer. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has determined that there is "suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity but not sufficient to assess human carcinogenic potential by all routes of exposure," for malathion.

Has anyone studied non-cancer effects from long-term exposure to malathion?

Rats fed malathion when they were pregnant had lower levels of the target enzyme than other rats. The fetuses also had less of the target enzyme. Rabbits were more likely to resorb their fetuses if they were fed malathion when pregnant. Rats that were fed malathion for three weeks had less thyroid activity than other rats.

Are children more sensitive to malathion than adults?

While children may be especially sensitive to pesticides compared to adults, there are currently no data showing that children have increased sensitivity specifically to malathion.

What happens to malathion in the environment?

Bacteria in the soil may break down malathion and sunlight can break down malathion in the air. Malathion will mix with water and can move quickly through soil. Because of these properties, malathion can be found in surface waters such as streams, and sometimes it is found in well water. The time it takes for malathion to break down to half of the original amount in soil is about 17 days, depending on the soil type. This length of time is known as the half-life. In water, malathion has a half-life between 2 and 18 days, depending on conditions like temperature and pH. Malathion vapor may also move long distances in air or fog.

Can malathion affect birds, fish, or other wildlife?

Malathion is highly toxic to bees and other beneficial insects, some fish, and other aquatic life. Malathion is moderately toxic to other fish and birds, and is considered low in toxicity to mammals.


Scientific Name: Arnica montana
Common Names: Leopard’s bane, mountain daisy, mountain arnica
Family: Asteraceae
Part Used: Flowers
Habitat: Arnica is native to central Asia, Siberia and Europe. Cultivated in North America.

Arnica is used externally as an ointment for sore muscles, sprains and bruises. It possesses anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-septic properties.

CAUTION: Arnica should never be taken internally. Not recommended for long term use as it may cause skin irritation.


Introduction and Importance of Medicinal Plants and Herbs

The term &ldquomedicinal plant&rdquo include various types of plants used in herbalism ("herbology" or "herbal medicine"). It is the use of plants for medicinal purposes, and the study of such uses.

The word &ldquoherb&rdquo has been derived from the Latin word, &ldquoherba&rdquo and an old French word &ldquoherbe&rdquo. Now a days, herb refers to any part of the plant like fruit, seed, stem, bark, flower, leaf, stigma or a root, as well as a non-woody plant. Earlier, the term &ldquoherb&rdquo was only applied to non-woody plants, including those that come from trees and shrubs. These medicinal plants are also used as food, flavonoid, medicine or perfume and also in certain spiritual activities.

Plants have been used for medicinal purposes long before prehistoric period. Ancient Unani manuscripts Egyptian papyrus and Chinese writings described the use of herbs. Evidence exist that Unani Hakims, Indian Vaids and European and Mediterranean cultures were using herbs for over 4000 years as medicine. Indigenous cultures such as Rome, Egypt, Iran, Africa and America used herbs in their healing rituals, while other developed traditional medical systems such as Unani, Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine in which herbal therapies were used systematically.

Traditional systems of medicine continue to be widely practised on many accounts. Population rise, inadequate supply of drugs, prohibitive cost of treatments, side effects of several synthetic drugs and development of resistance to currently used drugs for infectious diseases have led to increased emphasis on the use of plant materials as a source of medicines for a wide variety of human ailments.

Among ancient civilisations, India has been known to be rich repository of medicinal plants. The forest in India is the principal repository of large number of medicinal and aromatic plants, which are largely collected as raw materials for manufacture of drugs and perfumery products. About 8,000 herbal remedies have been codified in AYUSH systems in INDIA. Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Folk (tribal) medicines are the major systems of indigenous medicines. Among these systems, Ayurveda and Unani Medicine are most developed and widely practised in India.

Recently, WHO (World Health Organization) estimated that 80 percent of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for some aspect of their primary health care needs. According to WHO, around 21,000 plant species have the potential for being used as medicinal plants.

As per data available over three-quarters of the world population relies mainly on plants and plant extracts for their health care needs. More than 30% of the entire plant species, at one time or other were used for medicinal purposes. It has been estimated, that in developed countries such as United States, plant drugs constitute as much as 25% of the total drugs, while in fast developing countries such as India and China, the contribution is as much as 80%. Thus, the economic importance of medicinal plants is much more to countries such as India than to rest of the world. These countries provide two third of the plants used in modern system of medicine and the health care system of rural population depend on indigenous systems of medicine.

Treatment with medicinal plants is considered very safe as there is no or minimal side effects. These remedies are in sync with nature, which is the biggest advantage. The golden fact is that, use of herbal treatments is independent of any age groups and the sexes.

The ancient scholars only believed that herbs are only solutions to cure a number of health related problems and diseases. They conducted thorough study about the same, experimented to arrive at accurate conclusions about the efficacy of different herbs that have medicinal value. Most of the drugs, thus formulated, are free of side effects or reactions. This is the reason why herbal treatment is growing in popularity across the globe. These herbs that have medicinal quality provide rational means for the treatment of many internal diseases, which are otherwise considered difficult to cure.

Medicinal plants such as Aloe, Tulsi, Neem, Turmeric and Ginger cure several common ailments. These are considered as home remedies in many parts of the country. It is known fact that lots of consumers are using Basil (Tulsi) for making medicines, black tea, in pooja and other activities in their day to day life.

In several parts of the world many herbs are used to honour their kings showing it as a symbol of luck. Now, after finding the role of herbs in medicine, lots of consumers started the plantation of tulsi and other medicinal plants in their home gardens.

Medicinal plants are considered as a rich resources of ingredients which can be used in drug development either pharmacopoeial, non- pharmacopoeial or synthetic drugs. A part from that, these plants play a critical role in the development of human cultures around the whole world. Moreover, some plants are considered as important source of nutrition and as a result of that they are recommended for their therapeutic values. Some of these plants include ginger, green tea, walnuts, aloe, pepper and turmeric etc. Some plants and their derivatives are considered as important source for active ingredients which are used in aspirin and toothpaste etc.

Apart from the medicinal uses, herbs are also used in natural dye, pest control, food, perfume, tea and so on. In many countries different kinds of medicinal plants/ herbs are used to keep ants, flies, mice and flee away from homes and offices. Now a days medicinal herbs are important sources for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Recipes for the treatment of common ailments such as diarrhoea, constipation, hypertension, low sperm count, dysentery and weak penile erection, piles, coated tongue, menstrual disorders, bronchial asthma, leucorrhoea and fevers are given by the traditional medicine practitioners very effectively.

Over the past two decades, there has been a tremendous increase in the use of herbal medicine however, there is still a significant lack of research data in this field. Therefore since 1999, WHO has published three volumes of the WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants.

Importance of some herbs with their medicinal values

  • Herbs such as black pepper, cinnamon, myrrh, aloe, sandalwood, ginseng, red clover, burdock, bayberry, and safflower are used to heal wounds, sores and boils.
  • Basil, Fennel, Chives, Cilantro, Apple Mint, Thyme, Golden Oregano, Variegated Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Variegated Sage are some important medicinal herbs and can be planted in kitchen garden. These herbs are easy to grow, look good, taste and smell amazing and many of them are magnets for bees and butterflies.
  • Many herbs are used as blood purifiers to alter or change a long-standing condition by eliminating the metabolic toxins. These are also known as 'blood cleansers'. Certain herbs improve the immunity of the person, thereby reducing conditions such as fever.
  • Some herbs are also having antibiotic properties. Turmeric is useful in inhibiting the growth of germs, harmful microbes and bacteria. Turmeric is widely used as a home remedy to heal cut and wounds.
  • To reduce fever and the production of heat caused by the condition, certain antipyretic herbs such as Chirayta, black pepper, sandal wood and safflower are recommended by traditional Indian medicine practitioners.
  • Sandalwood and Cinnamon are great astringents apart from being aromatic. Sandalwood is especially used in arresting the discharge of blood, mucus etc.
  • Some herbs are used to neutralize the acid produced by the stomach. Herbs such as marshmallow root and leaf. They serve as antacids. The healthy gastric acid needed for proper digestion is retained by such herbs.
  • Indian sages were known to have remedies from plants which act against poisons from animals and snake bites.
  • Herbs like Cardamom and Coriander are renowned for their appetizing qualities. Other aromatic herbs such as peppermint, cloves and turmeric add a pleasant aroma to the food, thereby increasing the taste of the meal.
  • Some herbs like aloe, sandalwood, turmeric, sheetraj hindi and khare khasak are commonly used as antiseptic and are very high in their medicinal values.
  • Ginger and cloves are used in certain cough syrups. They are known for their expectorant property, which promotes the thinning and ejection of mucus from the lungs, trachea and bronchi. Eucalyptus, Cardamom, Wild cherry and cloves are also expectorants.
  • Herbs such as Chamomile, Calamus, Ajwain, Basil, Cardamom, Chrysanthemum, Coriander, Fennel, Peppermint and Spearmint, Cinnamon, Ginger and Turmeric are helpful in promoting good blood circulation. Therefore, they are used as cardiac stimulants.
  • Certain medicinal herbs have disinfectant property, which destroys disease causing germs. They also inhibit the growth of pathogenic microbes that cause communicable diseases.
  • Herbal medicine practitioners recommend calmative herbs, which provide a soothing effect to the body. They are often used as sedatives.
  • Certain aromatic plants such as Aloe, Golden seal, Barberry and Chirayata are used as mild tonics. The bitter taste of such plants reduces toxins in blood. They are helpful in destroying infection as well.
  • Certain herbs are used as stimulants to increase the activity of a system or an organ, for example herbs like Cayenne (Lal Mirch, Myrrh, Camphor and Guggul.
  • A wide variety of herbs including Giloe, Golden seal, Aloe and Barberry are used as tonics. They can also be nutritive and rejuvenate a healthy as well as diseased individual.
  • Honey, turmeric, marshmallow and liquorice can effectively treat a fresh cut and wound. They are termed as vulnerary herbs.

As our lifestyle is now getting techno-savvy, we are moving away from nature. While we cannot escape from nature because we are part of nature. As herbs are natural products they are free from side effects, they are comparatively safe, eco-friendly and locally available. Traditionally there are lot of herbs used for the ailments related to different seasons. There is a need to promote them to save the human lives.

These herbal products are today are the symbol of safety in contrast to the synthetic drugs, that are regarded as unsafe to human being and environment. Although herbs had been priced for their medicinal, flavouring and aromatic qualities for centuries, the synthetic products of the modern age surpassed their importance, for a while. However, the blind dependence on synthetics is over and people are returning to the naturals with hope of safety and security. It&rsquos time to promote them globally.


Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

"What if you were a teacher but had no voice to speak your knowledge? What if you had no language at all and yet there was something you needed to say? Wouldn&apost you dance it? Wouldn&apost you act it out? Wouldn&apost your every movement tell the story? In time you would be so eloquent that just to gaze upon you would reveal it all. And so it is with these silent green lives."- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

In 2007, Yann Martel compiled a reading list for Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harp "What if you were a teacher but had no voice to speak your knowledge? What if you had no language at all and yet there was something you needed to say? Wouldn't you dance it? Wouldn't you act it out? Wouldn't your every movement tell the story? In time you would be so eloquent that just to gaze upon you would reveal it all. And so it is with these silent green lives."- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

In 2007, Yann Martel compiled a reading list for Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper (http://newwestminster.bibliocommons.c. ). People on Twitter was discussing other books to add to the list to make it more diverse (http://priscillajudd.ca/thexpress/?p=. ). Our PM isn’t that great with environmental issues or indigenous issues, so this is one book I would recommend this book to him if he's not too busy meeting panda bears (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto. ).

This is by far one of the most important books I’ve read this year. The author is a scientist but she is also a poet. Her writing is absolutely stunning and eloquent. Her love for the land, especially the land she grew up on, comes through very clearly in her writing.

There is acknowledgement that the previously ignored indigenous cultures and knowledge are absolutely essential. As much as I focus on indigenous research in my studies, this is the first time I have seen the focus being on science. This book was definitely a shout out to indigenous culture and knowledge, knowledge that is often ignored by academia, or seen as wishy-washy or not true science:

"My natural inclination was to see relationships, to seek the threads that connect the world, to join instead of divide. But science is rigorous in separating the observer from the observed, and the observed from the observer."

The book clearly states the importance of the land, for so many reasons: sustenance, healing, etc. While reading this, I thought of how my mother had had asthma as a child but my grandfather, who was very familiar with traditional African medicine (which was of course seen as backwards by Western medicine) knew which plant medicine to give my mother. She doesn’t have asthma anymore. My grandfather also helped with my sister’s anaemia (by boiling guava leaves in water and giving her the liquid to drink - this helps to replenish iron levels). What sort of knowledge is dying out because people aren’t interested in the land anymore? My grandfather passed away and I wonder who has the knowledge of the herb that cured my mother's asthma.

The author uses incidents from her personal life, as well as myths, to enrich her insight on nature, plants and the land. The book is relatively heavy on the science (biology) but I think basic high school biology knowledge is enough to understand most of the processes.

Also included in the book is the sad history of the Natives in North America, the death of language, the near-extermination of their culture and what it means to the world as a whole:

"In the settler mind, land was property, real estate, capital or natural resources. But to our people, it was everything: identity, the connection to our ancestors, the home of our nonhuman kinfolk, our pharmacy, our library, the source of all that sustained us. It belonged to itself it was a gift, not a commodity, so it could never be sold."

After reading this, I feel compelled to observe nature more closely, plant vegetables, look at possible relationships between plants, tap maple trees for syrup, something! The most engaging science book I’ve ever read and one I’d recommend to anyone.
. more

One of my goals this year was to read more non-fiction, a goal I believe I accomplished. Never thought I would rate my last three non-fiction reads 5 stars. This was a wonderful, wonderful book. It teaches the reader so many things about plants and nature in general. Different animals and how the indigenous people learned from watching them and plants, the trees. tis is how they learned to survive, when they had little.

teaches us about thankfulness, gratitude and how often we take these wonderfu One of my goals this year was to read more non-fiction, a goal I believe I accomplished. Never thought I would rate my last three non-fiction reads 5 stars. This was a wonderful, wonderful book. It teaches the reader so many things about plants and nature in general. Different animals and how the indigenous people learned from watching them and plants, the trees. tis is how they learned to survive, when they had little.

teaches us about thankfulness, gratitude and how often we take these wonderful things in nature for granted. How important traditions are, languages and family. How much we can learn from others. I am so glad I bought this book, because though I seldom re-read I can see myself picking this book up and reading a chapter, pretty much any chapter, and reminding myself of all I have. A book I hope never to forget. . more

This is a gorgeous book all about nature and science - what more can a girl ask for?

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a botanist by trade and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation - and she combines her passion for plants and history in this book.

Each chapter focuses on a different overlap between science and her culture.

I love that she had a more personal take on science - so often science is emphasized as rigid, observational and abov

This is a gorgeous book all about nature and science - what more can a girl ask for?

Robin Wall Kimmerer is a botanist by trade and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation - and she combines her passion for plants and history in this book.

Each chapter focuses on a different overlap between science and her culture.

I love that she had a more personal take on science - so often science is emphasized as rigid, observational and above all emotionless.

But in this book you learn about how heartbreak and love can teach you just as well as any double blind study.

I was SO fascinated by this book. I loved, loved, loved just how varied everything was.

From the story of the three sisters (corns, beans and squash) to restoring a culturally significant lake to teaching about how humans and sweetgrass need each other - this book has it all.

If you are looking for an unforgettable nonfiction - this one is for you!!

I feel I must justify my rating of this book as some of my peers would disagree with me. First, I simply did not enjoy the book stylistically. While I treasure creative nonfiction essays, I find Kimmerer&aposs language over-reaching in its poetic pursuits. If this were my only qualm with Braiding Sweetgrass, I would be able to overlook it. However, Kimmerer&aposs lengthy prose-poetry is coupled with an over-generalized critique of American/Western/Christian culture (often conflating all three instead of I feel I must justify my rating of this book as some of my peers would disagree with me. First, I simply did not enjoy the book stylistically. While I treasure creative nonfiction essays, I find Kimmerer's language over-reaching in its poetic pursuits. If this were my only qualm with Braiding Sweetgrass, I would be able to overlook it. However, Kimmerer's lengthy prose-poetry is coupled with an over-generalized critique of American/Western/Christian culture (often conflating all three instead of recognizing the nuances between them). Kimmerer understandably favors her native culture, but in her efforts to emphasize its goodness, she often misrepresents the other side. For example, in her first chapter, she compares the Skywoman legend with Eve in Eden, claiming that Skywoman is inherently in harmony with nature while Eve is at war with it. I found this problematic as she neglects the further complexities of the Eden story: the presence of Adam and God for starters. Her version of the Christian creation story juxtaposed with the Skywoman tale certainly implies that Western society (as in typical Western society, for certainly her people were further west first) is at odds with nature due to their foundation myths. However, this certainly is not the case it is quite clear that when Moses speaks of subduing the earth, he does not mean to destroy but to cultivate, for it is obvious we require it to survive. This is merely one example from the many I found.

I did give the book two instead of one star as I feel it is important for us to engage with conversations and cultures so radically different from our own, and Kimmerer certainly does well in representing her heritage. The book also addresses a significant, though often mocked, topic of conversation: the troubling state of our relationship with nature.

I understand Kimmerer's attempted message, but I find her rhetoric unconvincing due to its repetitiveness and her tendency towards misrepresentation of the West and idealization of her own culture.
In all fairness, however, aren't we all prone to this same fault? . more

This is an important and a beautiful book. We are discussing it here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/.

Rather than repeating all my thoughts I post the link.

I don&apost give that many books five stars. They have to qualify as amazing. The author writes so you understand the value of nature, of the gift that is given to all of us. She shows us that a gift is tied with responsibility. Only if you understand that you have received a gift do you feel the responsibility to reciproca This is an important and a beautiful book. We are discussing it here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/.

Rather than repeating all my thoughts I post the link.

I don't give that many books five stars. They have to qualify as amazing. The author writes so you understand the value of nature, of the gift that is given to all of us. She shows us that a gift is tied with responsibility. Only if you understand that you have received a gift do you feel the responsibility to reciprocate. She opens our eyes to what has been given us. She also shows us how to handle the despair one can so easily feel. What is the point? I can do nothing. She gives us hope, and that is what is necessary so we don't just give up!

She wonderfully intertwines science with marvelous tales of the indigenous people. You can read the book just for these tales. You can read the book to learn scientific detail of flora and fauna. For example about strawberries, pecans, cattails, salamanders, maples and of course sweetgrass. Absolutely fascinating! You can read the book for inspiration she is a single mother who has raised her kids alone. And what a fantastic job she has done. She remains humble. To top it all off she writes beautifully.

Occasionally I felt she was long-winded, but her message had to be made clear so we all really understand. Her message is SO important - to all of us!

This book is available on Kindle. If you try it and you don’t like it, you can get your money back if you return it within a week. What can you lose? I know, I am too pushy……. but I think this is such an important book. . more

As we struggle to imagine a future not on fire, we are gifted here with an indigenous culture of reciprocity with the land, revived and weaved together with the science of ecology “we restore the land, and the land restores us”.

The Brilliant:
--In another life, I may have pursued ecology. Instead, I’ve spent my spare time reading deconstructions of capitalism/imperialism. It has been a challenge balancing this deconstruction with the social imagination for healing and reconstruction.
--I can’t re As we struggle to imagine a future not on fire, we are gifted here with an indigenous culture of reciprocity with the land, revived and weaved together with the science of ecology “we restore the land, and the land restores us”.

The Brilliant:
--In another life, I may have pursued ecology. Instead, I’ve spent my spare time reading deconstructions of capitalism/imperialism. It has been a challenge balancing this deconstruction with the social imagination for healing and reconstruction.
--I can’t remember where I started seeing all the glowing reviews, but it was settled for me when I saw one by Mexie (PhD grad in political economy, find her on YouTube). However, it took patience for my modernist, distracted side to settle into the rhythm of the storytelling after re-reading the first 3 chapters, things finally clicked, and then the remaining chapters came in waves.
--The author’s journey to relearn her Potawatomi heritage and synthesize it with her scientific/teaching career in plant ecology was the perfect format for a reader even more disconnected from the land and culture. Had this been a collection of indigenous stories, I would not have been ready for it.
--Through her own trials and errors, we begin to see what it means for humans to receive the gifts of the land, establish gratitude, and build relationships of reciprocity with nonhumans and the land. Beautiful examples of symbiosis between plants, animals, and humans are revealed through the author's poetic dance between indigenous stories and ecological science.
--The author explains what the tool of science is useful for and what it is not (i.e. knowing does not build a culture of caring, an "indigenous worldview"), and further contrasts the "practice of science" from the "science worldview" (i.e. in the context of reductionist/materialist control, "the illusion of dominance and control, the separation of knowledge from responsibility").
--We carefully unravel land as property/commodity (in a consumerist society of manufactured scarcity and endless growth), land as natural resource, land as machine (mechanistic reductionism, where humans are the drivers), and, more subtly, land as separate from humans (where humans can only do harm to nature).
--We carefully rebuild land as indigenous, where nonhuman beings are subjects, not objects, and where humans have humility to not be the sole drivers (thus, listening to the wisdom and stories of the nonhuman beings that are our elders on the land). Page by page, story by story, we start to reimagine land as sacred.
--I give detailed breakdowns of nonfiction, but this is a book of stories for you to experience…

The Missing:
--I’m all about synthesis, and there’s much work to do with connecting the gifts here with political economy, geopolitics and strategies for systemic change.
--A related synthesis is ecosocialism: socialist political economy + Earth Systems Science after all, Marx's analysis of capitalism's contradictions ("use value"/"exchange value", "commodity fetishism", endless accumulation, etc.) provides useful insights when comparing market economy vs. gift economy, and his hints at capitalism's rift in social metabolism (relationship between society and nature) is foundational:
-Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System
-The Ecological Rift
-Karl Marx's Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy

--Which reminds me, political economy has not been just deconstruction some more social imagination examples:

1) Vijay Prashad on the Global South’s censored struggles for decolonization, expanded human rights, internationalist nationalism, economic justice, global disarmament, etc.
-Detailed analysis: The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World
-Global decolonization playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npkee.
-Global decolonization and Civil Rights: https://youtu.be/IfQ-zFaAOFk?t=45

If there is one book you would want the President to read this year, what would it be? This question was asked of a popular fiction writer who took not a moment&aposs thought before saying, my own of course. She is wrong. The book the President should read, that all of us who care about the future of the planet should read, is Robin Kimmerer&aposs Braiding Sweetgrass.

This is one of the most important books written on the environment since Silent
Spring. Kimmerer blends her scientific background as an et If there is one book you would want the President to read this year, what would it be? This question was asked of a popular fiction writer who took not a moment's thought before saying, my own of course. She is wrong. The book the President should read, that all of us who care about the future of the planet should read, is Robin Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass.

This is one of the most important books written on the environment since Silent
Spring. Kimmerer blends her scientific background as an ethno-botanist with Potawatomi Tradition Ecological Knowledge in an astonishingly poetic book. There are few books that I put down at the end of chapters so that I can take them in and dream around them before going on. This is one of them. The best of books make me have to get up and walk around. (One of those I remember is Red on Red, by Craig Womack.)

Kimmerer was told in college that her reason for wanting to be a botanist was aesthetic rather than scientific. Turns out it is both. I cried when I read this chapter. I was told the same thing in the late sixties, that animals (never mind plants) did not communicate, and had no emotions. Unlike Kimmerer, I decided not to continue as a scientist. Kimmerer had the courage I did not, and pursued a doctorate in ethno-botany. She considers her training as a scientist as one of many tools that she can use in understanding the living world.

When I was a girl, I never felt "American," and to me the american flag was just a piece of cloth. The first time I saw the flag with the leaf of the Red Maple on the white background, I got so excited - this was a flag I could relate to, even rally around. I thought, though I didn't have the words for it, that it was the flag of what Kimmerer names as the Maple Nation. (I was disappointed when I found out it was a flag of a human government, though also interested that Canada would choose that living symbol.) And this brings me to the most important thing about this book. Kimmerer brings the reader into a Native understanding of the world, that there are in fact, Nations that are not human, that all beings are persons.

Let me say that again. All beings are persons. It is the root of our relatedness to the world, our seeing ourselves as not separate, but part of a web of relations that includes the green world, the animal world, the world of streams and lakes and ocean, of clouds and rain, sunlight and starlight, and that our relationship to each of them is, or should be, an intimate, person-to-person relationship.

This does not come from a romantic, but rather from a very pragmatic Native view. She takes us through the woods with a class, where she is not the all-knowing teacher, but rather the intermediary for the real teacher, the woods, the marsh, the earth.

She shows us how indigenous systems work in a sustainable way, and what an Honorable Harvest means. She approaches wild leeks and asks permission to take some for the dinner she wants to cook for her daughters. That is, she acknowledges their personhood, and that it is a gift they are giving in being our food.

But how do you ask permission? What does that mean? And how do listen for the answer? How do you listen to the Grand Banks when you ask permission to fish? Kimmerer says you use both sides of your brain. First, analytically, you pay attention. Is the population healthy? Is it thriving? Are there enough to share with us?

She digs a small clump of leeks and notices that they are weak, the bulbs poorly developed. So, even though she wants to make her visiting daughters this meal that would remind them of childhood meals they made together in spring, she puts them back, tucks them back into the earth, and leaves.
She doesn't do what many of us would do, that is, take them anyway and complain about how the leeks are bad this year. She accepts that the leeks are not thriving, puts them back, leaves with thanks, and the gift of replanting and care-giving.

As for the right brain, Kimmerer says you must listen with your heart, with your spirit. Is there a sense of generosity, or a kind of holding back or reticence? This kind of listening is valued as much as the analyticain the Native world. Though it is harder to talk about, it is no less real.

One of the most interesting, and important things Kimmerer has to say is about becoming indigenous. There are so many wannabe Indians out there, as well as people who really do want to have a better relationship with the land, but don't know how.

Kimmerer say, no, you can't become indigenous. You are immigrants, not from this place. Your people have not lived for thousands of years on this land.

But, she says, you can become naturalized. What does that mean? She uses the example of Plantain, an English plant that came over with the colonists, and soon was found all over the northeast. It is a useful plant that willingly shares its medicine. And it blends into the land, does not crowd out indigenous species, unlike Kudzu and other plants that destroy the ecosystems they invade. So, my new bumper sticker would read: Be Plantain, Not Kudzu.

This is such a creative response and challenge to the wannabes. Don't dress up in feathers and go to pow wows and invent indian-princess-great-grandmothers. Naturalize. Learn how to be a person among persons. Learn to listen, really listen, which means learning about the Maple Nation and all the other Nations, not romanticizing them as "Mother Earth" without doing the work of becoming intimate with the land you are, after all, a part of.

There is so much more in this book, I cannot praise it enough. Kimmerer thought she had to choose between science and poetry, but in Braiding Sweetgrass, she shows us that she is both a scientist and a writer with a poet's visiion, and a keeper of Traditional Knowledge.

There is hope for a sustainable earth on the other side of climate change and the fall of industrial civilization. It is possible to replant a forest, to reinvigorate a coastal ecosystem.

Our stories say that in earliest times, all the beings could talk to each other. Kimmerer says, if we listen hard enough, we can still hear enough to be good relations.

I say, with the greatest respect, Wlwni, Robin Kimmerer. Thank you.

I don&apost know how to talk about this book. I think it has affected me more than anything else I&aposve ever read.

Each time I picked up this book, I sank into the world of plants and meaning, the slow vegetable world, seen jewel-bright from the underside. It was hard to do errands and think strategically. I thought how we use the word "grassroots" as a buzz phrase when applying for grants, to elbow our way into legitimacy, but Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds me that what the roots of grass really mean is I don't know how to talk about this book. I think it has affected me more than anything else I've ever read.

Each time I picked up this book, I sank into the world of plants and meaning, the slow vegetable world, seen jewel-bright from the underside. It was hard to do errands and think strategically. I thought how we use the word "grassroots" as a buzz phrase when applying for grants, to elbow our way into legitimacy, but Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds me that what the roots of grass really mean is being small and belly-deep in the dirt. It's learning to be whole and humble.

But sometimes I'd feel upset about all this humility. Wall Kimmerer is gentle and kind to moss and salamanders, but also to the settlers and their descendants. She speaks with strength but understanding to those in the cultures and economies that are killing everything she most loves. I wanted her to be tougher on us. In the same way that when I spent a little time with Robin, I wanted to walk behind her with a sign saying "This is the most wise and powerful person you will ever meet," because with her quiet, kind demeanor, I fear others won't listen, will look right past her like they look past the plants and animals she studies.

I thought about the thing anthropologists noticed in egalitarian cultures -- that the ones most respected in the community always talk themselves down. They bring home a huge deer for everyone to eat saying "I don't even know how to shoot an arrow -- this just accidentally happened." Robin's like that, bringing the best words and deep-rooted stories with a it's-no-big-deal shrug. It's the mark of her leadership and importance. She's the anti-Trump: one who leads by actually caring for others.

Which is another part of my experience: I read all this deep hope and wisdom and meaning at a particularly hopeless and idiotic time. I read this book on the night of the election and the morning after, and many moments in the weeks that have followed, a tonic against waves of despair. I'm still not certain what it all means. David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas has a part where a book written from an earlier time is taken as a founding spiritual text for a future rebellion -- that's a feeling I got while reading this now. That maybe it's too late for my people, confronting climate change and mass extinctions with a selfish, cruel demagogue at the helm -- but the ones in the deep future who survive and start over could land on Braiding Sweetgrass as their founding spiritual guide and weave love, care, reciprocity into the wreckage.

And then, sometimes reading Robin's words I'd remember that while I'm antsy about some apocalypse, this is already the post-apocalypse for First Nations, and has been for hundreds of years. I think about Standing Rock, and how those who have already lived through unimaginable apocalypse are still resisting, praying, reminding others that water is life.

So even in the worst of it we're awash with gifts. I didn't deserve a book like this but it wound up in my hands, and now I feel very very small, but with a certain big allegiance to the plants and people like this. . more

A wonderfully written nonfiction exploring indigenous culture and diaspora, appreciating nature, and what we can do to help protect and honor the land we live upon. This nonfiction the power of language, especially learning the language of your ancestors to connect you to your culture as well as the heartbreaking fact that indigenous children who were banned from speaking anything from English in academic settings. It also greatly touches upon how humans and nature impact one another and how we A wonderfully written nonfiction exploring indigenous culture and diaspora, appreciating nature, and what we can do to help protect and honor the land we live upon. This nonfiction the power of language, especially learning the language of your ancestors to connect you to your culture as well as the heartbreaking fact that indigenous children who were banned from speaking anything from English in academic settings. It also greatly touches upon how humans and nature impact one another and how we should appreciate the journey that food and nature have taken to get to our tables and backyards. Kimmerer also brings up how untouched land is now polluted and forgotten, how endangered species need to be protected, how we can take part in caring for nature, especially during the climate crisis that we are currently experiencing and have caused due to our carelessness and lack of concern for other species.

Basically, Kimmerer touches upon a vast array of topics that I am greatly interested in. She expanded my knowledge and also reminded me to slow down and appreciate the process of life, growth, and the journey nature goes on. I'm really glad I picked up this well-narrated audiobook. . more

“Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer presents a perhaps radical view to those of us living so single-mindedly in the modern world. We&aposve become so disconnected from our roots—both literal and metaphorical—that it is easy to turn a blind eye to how our every action has an effect on our environment. In this book, she calls us to pay attention, to use the currency of our time and energy to give back “Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer presents a perhaps radical view to those of us living so single-mindedly in the modern world. We've become so disconnected from our roots—both literal and metaphorical—that it is easy to turn a blind eye to how our every action has an effect on our environment. In this book, she calls us to pay attention, to use the currency of our time and energy to give back to the earth from which we came and which we call home.

In quite a unique and compelling way, Kimmerer weaves together three distinct, and sometimes seemingly opposed, worldviews: that of indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teaching of plants. She blends the mind, body and soul in a holistic perspective that celebrates the beauty of the natural world and warns against the continuing destruction humans are waging on it.

But her views are never preachy. Perhaps some readers may be turned off by the way she can anthropomorphize the environment, but her background as an indigenous woman and respect for her tradition brings a new light to how we—or at least I, as a white male—view the world. I found it refreshing, convicting and illuminating. I also appreciated how she is not only an indigenous woman but a scientist, someone who values the rigor of academic work but calls for a more nuanced approach that allows for respect for the land and listening to the earth. She does not accept the black and white nature of scientific reason as the only source of truth, instead calling on us to be hearers of what the world around as is saying while attempting to understand it with the tools we have at our disposal.

She has a strong voice (the audiobook is read by the author and very well done) and a story worth listening to. This book is a blend of scientific exploration, personal reflection, indigenous folklore, and a call to action. It was unlike anything I've ever read and something that will definitely stay with me.

While I was listening to it on my daily walks, it caused me to see the world in a new light, which is something I think all good books will do. It definitely makes me more aware of my impact on the earth and to consider what I give and take from my environment. The idea of reciprocity is paramount to the restoration of the world, and until humans learn to give as much as we take from it, we are doomed.

But Kimmerer, unlike many, is not pessimistic. She is a realist with a unique perspective that provides more than just dos and don'ts for 'fixing' our climate crisis. She offers a salve to the despair we feel when it comes to facing this issue through wisdom, science and tradition that must be carried forward by the next generation, as she carries her people's stories on through her work. It's an admirable book and one that will have a lasting impact on its readers.

Some quotes I liked:
-“Isn't this the purpose of education, to learn the nature of your own gifts and how to use them for good in the world??
-"Ceremonies are the way we remember to remember."
-"Despair is paralysis. restoration is a powerful antidote to despair."
-"It is not the land that has been broken but our relationship to it."
-"Asking what is our responsibility is perhaps also to ask, What is our gift? And how shall we use it?"
-"As the perpetrators of the war zone on this road, are we not bound to heal the wounds that we inflict?" . more

"Paying attention acknowledges that we have something to learn from intelligences other than our own. Listening, standing witness, creates an openness to the world in which boundaries between us can dissolve in a raindrop."

From &aposWitness to Rain&apos [essay], BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, 2015 by Milkweed Editions.

RECIPROCITY.
This word is used frequently in Kimmerer&aposs 32 essays, and it echoes in my heart and mind days "Paying attention acknowledges that we have something to learn from intelligences other than our own. Listening, standing witness, creates an openness to the world in which boundaries between us can dissolve in a raindrop."

From 'Witness to Rain' [essay], BRAIDING SWEETGRASS: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, 2015 by Milkweed Editions.

RECIPROCITY.
This word is used frequently in Kimmerer's 32 essays, and it echoes in my heart and mind days after reading the collection. Giving back with care, nourishing and honoring the gifts that sustain.

Reciprocity as listening.
Reciprocity as walking lightly on the earth.
Reciprocity as protection from harm.
Reciprocity as social justice.
Reciprocity as honoring and supporting our elders.
Reciprocity as nurturing our children.
Reciprocity as economy.
Reciprocity as taking only what is given.
Reciprocity as ecology.
Reciprocity as revolution.

Synthesizing this immaculate collection is impossible. It is one to be experienced. It is one to marinate in/within.

This collection came to me in 2017, and over the years, I've read bits and pieces, listened to Kimmerer's beautiful narration on audiobook, and finally came back to read the whole book in entirety last month, only a few months after reading her first book, GATHERING MOSS in #ScienceSeptember.

Thank you to Vishy who read and discussed with me. We were both moved by Kimmerer's lyrical and wise prose, and will undoubtedly continue to be as these words are fresh in our minds. . more

I&aposm so glad I finally read this book for the Book Cougars/Reading Envy joint readalong. If you only read one science or nature book this year, this comes with my highest recommendations. We will discuss it more soon on their podcast and in the meantime I&aposll try to gather my thoughts!

If anything I wish I could have read it more slowly. I'm so glad I finally read this book for the Book Cougars/Reading Envy joint readalong. If you only read one science or nature book this year, this comes with my highest recommendations. We will discuss it more soon on their podcast and in the meantime I'll try to gather my thoughts!

If anything I wish I could have read it more slowly. . more

Science is a painfully tight pair of shoes. It perceives the family of life to be little more than a complex biochemical machine. It has created powerful tools for ravaging the planet’s ecosystems, creating a hard path for our descendants. It gives us knowing, but not caring. It’s not about wisdom. It’s about pursuing the wants and needs of humans, with less concern for the more-than-human world.

Robin Kimmerer is a biology professor. After being trained in the rigid beliefs of science, she heard Science is a painfully tight pair of shoes. It perceives the family of life to be little more than a complex biochemical machine. It has created powerful tools for ravaging the planet’s ecosystems, creating a hard path for our descendants. It gives us knowing, but not caring. It’s not about wisdom. It’s about pursuing the wants and needs of humans, with less concern for the more-than-human world.

Robin Kimmerer is a biology professor. After being trained in the rigid beliefs of science, she heard a Navajo woman talk about the realm of plants from the perspective of indigenous knowledge. For that woman, plants were not subjects, but teachers. In a flash, Kimmerer realized the shallowness of her scientific training. It only provides a pinhole view of reality. Science is not enough.

Her grandfather was Potawatomi. When he was a boy, the government sent him away to the Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he was trained to become an English-speaking wageworker. He forgot his language and culture and drifted away from his people. He never felt at home in either world.

Kimmerer has worked hard to reconnect with her Native American roots, because traditional indigenous cultures are blessed with a far more holistic relationship with the family of life. All people on Earth have tribal ancestors who once lived close to the land, but so much has been lost with the passage of centuries. Her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, is a collection of stories that focus on living with respect and reverence for the land.

She once asked a city lad where his sense of place felt strongest. He immediately responded, “My car.” Her book is especially important for the impoverished millions, who have grown up indoors, in a ghoulish netherworld of glowing screens. She has a strong and respectful relationship with the land, and she describes it beautifully. It’s a perspective that is almost absent in our culture, and without it, a long-term future for humans is impossible. We must remember.

While explaining the culture of sharing, respect, and gratitude, she does not conceal her scientist badge. So, readers are less tempted to automatically dismiss her stories as daffy rainbows of New Age woo-woo. Science is not worthless. In the centuries of restoration that lie ahead, it can offer some useful ideas, if we keep it on a short leash. Nature will play a primary role in healing the land as much as possible — it knows what to do. The far bigger challenge is dealing with the monsters that inhabit the goop between our ears.

In the native world, when a patch of ripe strawberries is discovered, the plants are warmly greeted. The people ask permission to take some berries. If the response is yes, they take only what they need, never more than half of the fruit. The plants are thanked for their gift, and the pickers leave an offering of tobacco.

Gifts and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin. The berry pickers now have an obligation to promote the wellbeing of the strawberry people, by depositing their seeds in good locations (not a toilet). This is a relationship of reciprocity between berries and people. The berry eaters need the plants, and the plants need the berry eaters.

On the other hand, the relationship between mainstream people and nonrenewable resources is not reciprocal. The oil, coal, iron, and other minerals do not need the miners, nor is their wellbeing improved by the mining. The planet’s atmosphere does not appreciate our toxic offerings of carbon emissions. The ecosystem does not enjoy being treated like an open pit mine.

Cultures that enjoy a direct and intimate relationship with their ecosystem have far more respect for it than those that forage at malls and supermarkets. Consumer culture receives enormous gifts from the land, but gives almost none in return. Kimmerer’s students clearly understand that the relationship between consumers and nature is abusive. It’s difficult for them to imagine what a healthy relationship would look like.

Kimmerer lives in the Onondaga Nation. At the school, the Haudenosaunee flag blows in the breeze, not the stars and stripes. There is no pledge of allegiance to a political system that claims to provide “liberty and justice for all.” Instead, each day begins with the Thanksgiving Address, in which the students express gratitude for all of creation. It helps them remember that, “everything needed to sustain life is already here.” We are wealthy.

I had one issue with the book. Natives from corn-growing cultures see corn as sacred. Corn was a recent arrival to the region of the eastern U.S. Its expansion spurred population growth and conflict. We know that hunter-gatherers could succeed in achieving genuine sustainability when they lived with the wisdom of voluntary self-restraint. But environmental history has not documented a culture achieving sustainability via intensive agriculture.

Potawatomi legends describe a dangerous spirit called the Windigo. It wanders across the land in the lean months of winter. It is always hungry, and never stops hunting. It’s a selfish spirit that is obsessed with its own survival, by any means necessary. The Windigo is notorious for having an insatiable hunger. The moral of the story is to share, to take care of one another. Don’t be a greedy butthead.

Much to the horror of the natives, the colonists imported a diabolical spirit of incredible self-destructive overindulgence — Super Windigo. In white society, mastering the madness of insatiable consumption was seen as an admirable mark of success! Kimmerer winces. “We spend our beautiful, utterly singular lives on making more money, to buy more things that feed but never satisfy. It is the Windigo way that tricks us into believing that belongings will fill our hunger, when it is belonging that we crave.”

After a lifetime of shopping and discarding, we don’t return our bodies to nature. The dead are placed in heavy caskets and buried deep in the ground, where nature will struggle for centuries to retrieve the nutrients. I’ve always hoped that my corpse would be eaten by mountain lions in a wild location, an offering to an ecosystem upon which I have lived far too hard.

From other books, I have learned about cultures that did something like this. Carl Jung noted that the Maasai tribe did not bury their dead. Corpses were left outdoors for the hyenas to eat. John Gunther wrote that the Bakutu people of the Congo recycled corpses by laying them on a termite hill. In sky burial, corpses are fed to the vultures. This is done in Tibet, and in Zoroastrian communities in India. Evan Pritchard noted that the Western Algonquin people also practiced it.

Over the years, Kimmerer has heard the Thanksgiving Address recited countless times. It is so inspiring to listen to people express gratitude for all of creation. She longs for the day “when we can hear the land give thanks for the people in return.” So do I.

Questions for a Resilient Future is a 17-minute talk given by Kimmerer.

Both a shameful reckoning and a hopeful emergence, in essence this writing presents a perspective that is at odds with our horse-blinkered, materialistic culture&aposs views of the natural world. The perspective is not one of an idealistic utopia, but rather one of respectful coexistence with all life, and balance with the natural world that in providing a conducive environment is essential for our existence — one of honest appreciation for the gifts that enable being, and of meaningful reciprocity Both a shameful reckoning and a hopeful emergence, in essence this writing presents a perspective that is at odds with our horse-blinkered, materialistic culture's views of the natural world. The perspective is not one of an idealistic utopia, but rather one of respectful coexistence with all life, and balance with the natural world that in providing a conducive environment is essential for our existence — one of honest appreciation for the gifts that enable being, and of meaningful reciprocity to further the continuum of all life. This from a merging of Native American perspective and hard science, which I find more credible in intent and practicality than Janus-faced offerings of our money-grubbing, destructive mores. [You might find the allegorical chapter, Windigo Footprints, telling in its succinctness, and the allegorical chapter, Defeating Windigo, instructive.] Together with the beneficial evidence of following this path is the hard evidence of how at our hand so far our little blue canoe is changing at an accelerating rate, which has the potential of leaving us behind in like haste. To me, it is unadulterated hubris to ignore Nature's sway and the diminishing circle of life that supports our being.

Each chapter builds on the premise with accomplished writing to further evidence the perspective, and increase one's understanding of the circle of life, which results in a longish book. To those with a like understanding it may seem overdone, and to those in denial it may be exasperating in exposing the ignorance of our materialistic tainted erudition. In my view, the thoroughness and accuracy of the book are necessary to enlighten those desiring a better understanding of practicable mitigation of the consequences of our increasing biosphere plight.

I found this a meaningful and heartwarming work of literature. If only more had such wisdom and respect for the little blue canoe that gives us life. Finding it difficult to discover books that I consider meaningful and thought provoking, and that I haven't yet read, I'm thankful I came across this one. Thank you Robin Wall Kimmerer for this honest, articulate, and insightful rendering of how humankind could be a beneficial component of Earth's biosphere.

In grateful receiving, unasked giving, and caring, the heart grows. In taking, keeping, and wasting, the heart shrivels. The fire of life may seemingly have all the fuel in place to blaze, but without the spark of true wisdom it won't sustain your inner being. . more

“This is really why I made my daughters learn to garden—so they would always have a mother to love them, long after I am gone.”

I was hooked from the first page the comparison of Sky Woman to Eve was intriguing. I even enjoyed the personal anecdotes, specifically the story of the author&aposs determination to restore her pond to its previous glory so her children can swim in it during summer.

As soon as the chapter on basket weaving began, I started to fall asleep. Beyond this point, the book “This is really why I made my daughters learn to garden—so they would always have a mother to love them, long after I am gone.”

I was hooked from the first page the comparison of Sky Woman to Eve was intriguing. I even enjoyed the personal anecdotes, specifically the story of the author's determination to restore her pond to its previous glory so her children can swim in it during summer.

As soon as the chapter on basket weaving began, I started to fall asleep. Beyond this point, the book lacked structure. I didn't really understand what point the author was trying to make. It truthfully seemed never-ending.

I spoke to my friend who recommended this to me about how much I hated it and she admitted to only being 25% of the way through. I can't blame her for recommending the book to me at that point, however upon finishing it, I spared her the time I wasted and told her there is no sense finishing the book.

My advice to you, readers, is the same. Pick up this book. Enjoy the beautiful cover and frayed edges. Read and learn until the point about basket weaving and return the book to your library. Pick a different book up. I hope this is my first and only time recommending people read the book but not finish it. . more

OK, this book was a journey and not a precisely pleasant one. I must admit I had my reservations about this book before reading it. As a botanist and indigenous person you&aposd think this would be right up my alley, but there was something about the description that made it sound it was going to be a lot of new-age spiritual non-sense, and it was a bit of that, but mostly I was pleasantly surprised that it was a more "serious" book than I thought it&aposd be.

At the beginning I was genuinely pleased wi OK, this book was a journey and not a precisely pleasant one. I must admit I had my reservations about this book before reading it. As a botanist and indigenous person you'd think this would be right up my alley, but there was something about the description that made it sound it was going to be a lot of new-age spiritual non-sense, and it was a bit of that, but mostly I was pleasantly surprised that it was a more "serious" book than I thought it'd be.

At the beginning I was genuinely pleased with this book, it is poetic, it is beautifully written, it mixes science, and auto-biography, and botany and it was a pleasant read. But then this book just never stops. This is 200 pages longer than it needs to be an reading it becomes a feat of endurance.

All the chapters started to blend together, and I slowly began to lose my mind.

Basically, all chapters follow the same structure, where the author takes a somewhat relatable life experience (like her daughters leaving for university, or talking to her old neighbor), mixes in random facts about a specific plant or natural phenomenon, sprinkle a bit of indigenous tradition, and then bake it all into a "let's respect nature" cake.

By page 200 you've been bludgeoned to death by the words "honorable harvest". All possible metaphors for plants and nature as mothers or sisters have been used so many times, and stretched into a thin rope that you hope chokes you. And you still have almost 100 pages left.

The worst is that there's really nothing to object on the content of the book, one would have to be an asshole to be against appreciating nature and indigenous knowledge. So my rating and this review its not really about the content of the book but about the experience of reading it. I really would've loved this book if it had just stopped 100 pages in, the points had already been beautifully made. Instead it never stopped and my whole experience was ruined.

Music for this book:
Voyagers - Udi Bar-David and R. Carlos Nakai

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"What would it be like to be raised on gratitude, to speak to the natural world as a member of the democracy of species, to raise a pledge of interdependence? No declarations of political loyalty are required, just a response to a repeated question: "Can we agree to be grateful for all that is given?"

"Hold out your hands and let me lay upon them a sheaf of freshly picked sweetgrass, loose and flowing, like newly washed hair"

"In return for the priviledge of breadth" . more

This is one of the most singular and beautiful books I have ever read. This is perspective altering in the best way. We have so much to learn and heed from indigenous stories and traditions their very thinking and language and reciprocity with nature that our colonial nation destroyed is desperately needed to save this earth. Notes forthcoming. There are so many post-its and bent pages I need to revisit.

"How, in our modern world, can we find our way to understand the earth as a gift again, to m This is one of the most singular and beautiful books I have ever read. This is perspective altering in the best way. We have so much to learn and heed from indigenous stories and traditions their very thinking and language and reciprocity with nature that our colonial nation destroyed is desperately needed to save this earth. Notes forthcoming. There are so many post-its and bent pages I need to revisit.

"How, in our modern world, can we find our way to understand the earth as a gift again, to make our relations with the world sacred again? I know we cannot all become hunter-gatherers--but even in a market economy, can we behave 'as if' the living world were a gift?" (31)

"The arrogance of English is that the only way to be animate, to be worthy of respect and moral concern, is to be human." (57)

"We gather our minds together to send our greetings and thanks to all the beautiful animal life of the world, who walk about with us. They have many things to teach us as people. We are grateful that they continue to share their lives with us and hope that it will always be so. Let us put our minds together as one and send our thanks to the Animals. Now our minds are one.

Imagine raising children in a culture in which gratitude is the first priority. Freida Jacques works at the Onondaga Nation School. She is the clan mother, the school-community liaison, and a generous teacher. She explains to me that the Thanksgiving Address embodies the Onondaga relationship with the world. Each part of Creation is thanked in turn for fulfilling its Creator-given duty to the others. 'It reminds you every day that you have enough,' she says. 'More than enough. Everything needed to sustain life is already here. When we do this, every day, it leads us to an outlook of contentment and respect for all Creation.'
You can't listen to the Thanksgiving Address without feeling wealthy." (110-111)

"As Freida says. 'The Thanksgiving Address is a reminder we cannot hear too often, that we human beings are not in charge of the world, but are subject to the same forces as all of the rest of life.'
For me, the cumulative impact of the Pledge of Allegiance, from my time as a schoolgirl to my adulthood, was the cultivation of cynicism and a sense of the nation's hypocrisy--not the pride it was meant to instill. As I grew to understand the gifts of the earth, I couldn't understand how 'love of country' could omit recognition of the actual country itself. The only promise it requires is to a flag. What of the promises to each other and to the land?" (112)

"How do I show my girls I love them on a morning in June? I pick them wild strawberries." (122)

"Being among the sisters provides a visible manifestation of what community can become when its members understand and share their gifts. In reciprocity, we fill our spirits as well as our bellies." (134)

"They remind me of the years of a tree's life that I hold in my hands. What would it be like, I wondered, to live with that heightened sensitivity to the lives given for ours? To consider the tree in the Kleenex, the algae in the toothpaste, the oaks in the floor, the grapes in the wine to follow back the thread of life in everything, and pay it respect? Once you start, it's hard to stop, and you begin to feel yourself awash in gifts.
I open the cupboard, a likely place for gifts. I think, 'I greet you, jar of jam. You glass who once was sand upon the beach, washed back and forth and bathed in foam and seagull cries, but who are formed into a glass until you once again return to the sea. And you, berries, plump in your June-ness, now in my February pantry. And you, sugar, so far from your Caribbean home--thanks for making the trip.'" (154)

"The Honorable Harvest asks us to give back, in reciprocity, for what we have been given. Reciprocity helps resolve the moral tension of taking a life by giving in return something of value that sustains the ones who sustain us. One of our responsibilities as human people is to find ways to enter into reciprocity with the more-then-human world. We can do it through gratitude, through ceremony, through land stewardship, science, art, and in everyday acts of practical reverence." (190)

"The forest the lichens inhabit is a richly textured plantscape, but they are not plants. They blur the definition of what it means to be an individual, as a lichen is not one being, but two: a fungus and an alga. These partners are as different as could be and yet are joined in a symbiosis so close that their union becomes a wholly new organism." (269)

"I can see my face reflected in a dangling drop. The fish-eye lens gives me a giant forehead and tiny ears/ I suppose that's the way we humans are, thinking too much and listening too little. Paying attention acknowledges that we have something to learn from intelligences other than our own. Listening, standing witness, creates an openness to the world in which the boundaries between us can dissolve in a raindrop. The drop swells on the tip of a cedar and I catch it on my tongue like a blessing." (300)

"The footprints of the Windigo.
They're everywhere you look. They stomp in the industrial sludge of Onondaga Lake. And over a savagely clear-cut slop in the Oregon Coast Range where the earth is slumping into the river. You can see them where coal mines rip off mountaintops in West Virginia and in oil-slick footprints on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. A square mile of industrial soybeans. A diamond mine in Rwanda. A closet stuffed with clothes. Windigo footprints all, they are the tracks of insatiable consumption. So many have been bitten. You can see them walking the malls, eyeing your farm for a housing development, running for Congress.
We are all complicit. We've allowed the 'market' to define what we value so that the redefined common good seems to depend on profligate life styles that enrich sellers while impoverishing the soul and the earth." (307)

"We restore the land, and the land restores us. As writer Freeman Howe cautions, 'We will continue to need the insights and methodologies of science, but if we allow the practice of restoration to become the exclusive domain of science, we will have lost its greatest promise, which is nothing less than a redefinition of human culture.'" (336)

"Many indigenous peoples share the understanding that we are each endowed with a particular gift, a unique ability. Birds to sing and stars to glitter, for instance. It is understood that these gifts have a dual nature, though: a gift is also a responsibility. If the bird's gift is song, then it has a responsibility to greet the day with music. It is the duty of birds to sing and the rest of us to receive the song as a gift.
Asking what is our responsibility is perhaps also to ask, What is our gift? And how shall we use it? Stories like the one about the people of corn give us guidance, both to recognize the world as a gift and to think how we might respond. .
We may not have wings or leaves, but we humans do have words. Language is our gift and our responsibility. I've come to think of writing as an act of reciprocity with the living land. Words to remember old stories, words to tell new ones, stories that bring science and spirit back together to nurture our becoming people made of corn." (347)

"And so it has come to pass that all over Indian Country there is a movement for the revitalization of language and culture growing from the dedicated work of individuals who have the courage to breathe life into ceremonies, gather speakers to reteach the language, plant old seed varieties, restore native landscapes, bring the youth back to the land. The people of the Seventh Fire walk among us. They are using the fire stick of the original teachings to restore health to the people, to help them bloom again and bear fruit.
The Seventh Fire prophecy presents a second vision for the time that is upon us. It tells that all the people of the earth will see that the path ahead is divided. They must make a choice in their path to the future. One of the roads is soft and green with new grass. You could walk barefoot there. The other path is scorched black, hard the cinders would cut your feet. If the people choose the grassy path, then life will be sustained. But if they choose the cinder path, the damage they have wrought upon the earth will turn against them and bring suffering and death to earth's people.
We do indeed stand at the crossroads. Scientific evidence tells us we are close to the tipping point of climate change, the end of fossil fuels, the beginning of resource depletion. Ecologists estimate that we would need seven planets to sustain the lifeways we have created. And yet those lifeways, lacking balance, justice, and peace, have not brought us contentment. They have brought us the loss of our relatives in a great wave of extinction. Whether or not we want to admit it, we have a choice ahead, a crossroads." (368)

Reading non-fiction is very difficult for me at the moment. It seems utterly unbelievable that I used to read critical theory for fun during my PhD. Maybe Duolingo is using up my non-fiction energy. Despite this, I was able to greatly enjoy &aposBraiding Sweetgrass&apos. It&aposs a beautiful, thought-provoking set of linked essays on the intersections between indigenous and scientific environmental knowledge. Robin Wall Kimmer writes in a style that is both incisive and joyful. I learned a great many ecolog Reading non-fiction is very difficult for me at the moment. It seems utterly unbelievable that I used to read critical theory for fun during my PhD. Maybe Duolingo is using up my non-fiction energy. Despite this, I was able to greatly enjoy 'Braiding Sweetgrass'. It's a beautiful, thought-provoking set of linked essays on the intersections between indigenous and scientific environmental knowledge. Robin Wall Kimmer writes in a style that is both incisive and joyful. I learned a great many ecology facts from this book, as well as gaining insight into indigenous North American cultural relationships with the environment. It also includes a powerful critique of colonialism, neoliberal capitalism, and particularly the commoditisation of the environment. Thus it can be sad to read, especially when discussing the brutal suppression of indigenous American people and the damage to their lands. Yet overall the tone is hopeful, as it recounts the survival and revival of indigenous language, culture, and skills. Robin Wall Kimmer recounts her field trips to show American college students the wonders of ecosystems. Although I dread camping, she made these trips sound like truly great experiences.

A strong thread that runs through the book is showing gratitude and respect towards the environment. Certain chapters consider this in the context of a particular place, plant, or craft. I particularly liked the contrast drawn between strawberries as gifts and commodities:

I was fascinated by this language comparison:

I enjoy unexpected links between books read in close succession. Robin Wall Kimmerer talks about the Haudenosaunee confederacy, reminding me of how it resisted colonisation in Kim Stanley Robinson's alternate history The Years of Rice and Salt. This book considers the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address as a counterpoint to the US Pledge of Allegiance. The former emphasises reciprocity with the natural world, while the latter assumes dominance over it.

Certain chapters are more playful, others more solemn. Of the former, I especially liked the one structured like a journal paper, with its bibliography: 'Wiingaashk, Buffalo, Lena, the Ancestors.' Of the latter, I was particularly struck by the Honourable Harvest:

In the UK, birthplace of enclosure and capitalism, our relationship with land lost its fundamental reciprocity at least four hundred years ago (cf The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View). We've essentially forgotten any historical cultural concepts and land management skills that were analogous to the Honourable Harvest. Thus the modern idea of rewilding, which conceptualises environmental recovery as ceasing all human involvement in land management. Reading 'Braiding Sweetgrass', I came to think of this as a first step. Without it, we can't even have an idea what the land was like before it became a commodity. Books like Wilding give a fascinating insight into what can happen when exhausted English farmland is allowed to grow wild. However, what I've read about rewilding only begins to suggest changing our collective relationships with land and ecosystems, without really getting into how we could manage them respectfully to mutual advantage. Monbiot George talks about the commons in Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life and Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics in the Age of Crisis, but doesn't have much explanation of what they'd be for and how we'd interact with them. By contrast, 'Braiding Sweetgrass' discusses a whole social worldview framed in terms of environmental reciprocity and balance. In the UK I suppose we're now fumbling for concepts that historically we've attempted to violently wipe out. Robin Wall Kimmerer not only explains these concepts in a fluid, energetic style, but marries them to scientific knowledge.

There is so much more worth quoting in 'Braiding Sweetgrass'. I want to recommend it as widely as possible and lend my copy around. Unlike most environmental non-fiction, which leaves me depressed if not enraged, I found it basically uplifting. It reminded me that polluted places can recover, that people can live with nature without exploiting it, and that there is great joy in just experiencing the natural world. I live in a city so my surroundings are not very wild, but a current highlight of my days is visiting the local pond to watch cygnets, ducklings, and coot chicks. I am very grateful for their existence. After reading this book, I will try to cultivate gratitude and reciprocity towards the environment more generally, rather than reducing it to something separate to humanity that we have wrecked. . more

Braiding Sweetgrass is exactly what Robin Wall Kimmerer promises in the Preface — a weaving of scientific fact, indigenous ways of knowing, and stories from her own life — but unlike three equal-sized hanks making one even plait, this book reads like a collection of loosely connected essays with each of them weighting her three strands differently. This led to an unevenness in my reading experience (I enjoyed some bits quite a bit more than others was intellectually engaged with some bits more than others), but despite this being a more challenging read than I had been anticipating, I think that Kimmerer’s message is vital and ultimately well-presented: We owe a debt of gratitude to the earth and its gifts and it’s time that we forge a relationship to our planet that’s based on reciprocity and not exploitation just imagine if we gave back nourishingly to the land, didn’t take more than we needed, and shared what we harvested. If that sounds like a utopia, it’s only because we of the dominant North American settler culture don’t recognise that people lived like that on these lands for millennia before Christopher Columbus showed up why wouldn’t we want that for ourselves? Kimmerer (as a Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology, an ecologist, a mother, and a member of the Potawatomi Nation) understands that our exploitation of the earth is both ecologically unsustainable and unhealthy for the human soul, and in Braiding Sweetgrass, she shows us another way. Well worth any quibbles I might have with the formatting.

Kimmerer at one point references “species loneliness” — a feeling of sadness and isolation stemming from a disconnection to the rest of Creation — and through sharing stories of a different way of engaging with the natural world from her indigenous heritage, she starts us on a path that could heal the planet and ourselves. If we begin to recognise non-human entities — from birds and animals to trees, rocks, and water — as our relations, we will begin to pour love into them, and feel love pouring back to us. As a biologist, Kimmerer is able to demonstrate that this kind of thoughtful interaction is vital for the healing for the environment, and as an Anishinaabe woman, she offers it as a defence against “windigo” thinking the kind of monstrous greed and hunger that leads to emptiness and soul-sickness. The stories that Kimmerer tells — of mindfully picking sweetgrass, rehabilitating her pond over the course of decades, helping migrating salamanders to cross a highway in the middle of a rainy night — show that she has spent her life putting her philosophy into action for the betterment of her surroundings and to the benefit of her own soul. Would that we all lived like this.

words are too small for what has happened here, so i&aposll have to start off by borrowing some words from juni: “thank god i did not die before i read this. thank god i did not die. thank you.”

braiding sweetgrass was just as compassionate, eye-opening, touching, informative and grounding as i hoped it would be. i had been saving this book for a special moment since november. i wish i could drop this book into the hands of every person i know. every person with power, every person without power, ev words are too small for what has happened here, so i'll have to start off by borrowing some words from juni: “thank god i did not die before i read this. thank god i did not die. thank you.”

braiding sweetgrass was just as compassionate, eye-opening, touching, informative and grounding as i hoped it would be. i had been saving this book for a special moment since november. i wish i could drop this book into the hands of every person i know. every person with power, every person without power, every person in the world. i'm afraid of many dismissing robin as too sentimental, too utopic. this is a voice we need right now: indigenous knowledge has been ignored and belittled for long enough.

when have i ever been taught with this much gentleness, this patience? the humility and wisdom that she holds knows no bounds, though i'm sure she wouldn't agree with that. if you can, PLEASE listen to the audiobook! robin's narration is unmatched. some essays i listened to while reading along, some i read without audio, and near none of them left me dry-eyed or cold. i'm not too afraid of overusing 'beautiful' to describe her writing because that's unequivocally what it is, in their words, their intention, their structure. i think essays are interesting because their structure is very special. i picture essays as an origami crane, for example. in the beginning, you are given the origami crane. as you read along, you start to unfold it, finding treasures and details inside. once it's unfolded completely, you start folding it back up again. you end up where you started, a full circle. that's how essays feel to me, specially these ones. okay, i have not read that much. but i don't think i've ever come across something that has made me feel "Joy for the being of the shimmering world and grief for what we have lost." so sharply. it's like she held up a mirror that helped me see clearly within myself for the first time. it's why i couldn't stop crying, feeling this joy and this grief. confined to my house, my relationship to nature more severed than ever, i was gifted a journey through several forests, wetlands, lakes, and fields. braiding sweetgrass hit different, as they say, in a way that i'm sure can be specifically linked to being quarantined. also, here's something i struggled to write about the first time i wrote this review: i wasn't just grieving along with her the nebulous loss of nature and the damage that has been done to the earth in ecological terms, but also in human terms (a distinction robin would probably disagree with, but one i'm making for clarity's sake). i'm not from the US, but i felt a deep type of secondhand-shame from reading about the atrocities that the US govt committed and continues to commit against indigenous people. be prepared to deal with that here. how do we wake up every morning with the knowledge of what all governments do to these people? continues to do? to black people, to lgbt+ people, to women, to poor people, to disabled people? the shame would kill me. the shame would not let me get out bed.

thanks to robin's gorgeous voice, i never felt judged by her for this, or for being complicit in participating within the market/commodity economy that has taken so much from her. nevertheless, while basking in all her knowledge, i couldn't help but think about myself, couldn't help but pulling up the mirror. i cannot speak about this with any authority, and i cannot mimic robin's gentle, musical language without sounding like a clumsy soapbox, but i can't stop thinking about the responsibility i have to do something (which is really frustrating because right now we can do so little!). i kept thinking to myself: i'm so moved by all of this, but i know that alone is not enough. because if i'm really honest, i don't do nearly enough to refuse commodities, to honor gifts. interacting with information like this moves me so deeply, and yet my actions don't completely fall into line with it. not for lack of wanting, rather lack of possibility/means? though saying that feels like making excuses. anyways, in all her wisdom, robin puts it neatly for me when she says that "Ceremonies focuses attention so that attention becomes intention." i'd like to believe that my attention is set on the right path, though my intentions are unfocused and directionless. i'm trying to make peace with that emotionally, but also pragmatically by attempting to discover what i can do to rectify that. at the end of one of my favorite essays ("sitting in a circle") she writes that "The exchange of recognition, gratitude, and reciprocity for these gifts is just as important in a Brooklyn flat as under a birch bark roof." which i found to be SO applicable to our current situation. in another earlier essay she concludes by asking, "What else can you offer the earth, which has everything? What else can you give but something of yourself?" i think this 'something of yourself' ties back to the ceremonies mentioned earlier. it all ties together!! she says that ceremonies are personal acts, and we have to discover what they will look like for us. since i'm not a particularly religious or spiritual person, my personal ceremonies have to come from a different place. "sitting in a circle" is one of my favorites because, after a group of her students discuss different ways of giving back to the earth after taking from it, robin writes: "This is our work, to discover what we can give." i have hope that i will figure it out. both saying "We can choose." and acknowledging "It's easy to write that, harder to do." is the biggest comfort she can give us. i just feel relieved that i have her in my corner, in a way.

if i make a list of everything that 'moved me to tears', the phrase will lose ALL MEANING. let's give it a try:
- the exploration of her indigenous history and the violence the US govt inflicted (and inflicts) on her people? moved me to tears.
- her belief in a better world, in which our connection to the land is revitalized? moved me to tears.
- anecdotes about her daughters and desire to be a good mother? moved me to tears (btw this reminds me that she doesn't apply the idea of being of a good mother only to her biological daughters, but extends the sentiment towards plants, towards her students, towards a lake. so would it be weird to say that, through her writing, she was a good mother to me?).
- her attempts at bridging the gap between the scientific part and the traditional part of her knowledge/life? moved me to tears.
- her poetic explanations of biological/ecological mechanisms? moved me to tears.
- her experiences as an university teacher and meaningful interactions with several students? moved me to tears.

i could go on, but i will not. if this review has piqued your interest in the book, as grateful as i am for your attention, i beg you to stop spending time with my clumsy words and fall into robin's elegant ones.

attempting to be Fair and Balanced™, my only criticism was the organization of the essays. they're divided into different sections ("planting sweetgrass", "tending sweetgrass", "picking sweetgrass", etc), but not for any clear reason that i could discern? it was a bit strange to read an essay on a particular topic and then jump to one rather different. this was a thought i'd have every once in a while, that it would benefit from being organized differently, but that didn't take away from anything, so calling it a criticism is a stretch.


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Given : 1/16 ÷ 1/81 + - 1/8

To find: multiplicative inverse

a multiplicative inverse is basically a reciprocal

Multiplicative inverse of number is the number which if multiplied by original number result in 1

Multiplicative inverse = 16/79

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