Of books and trees

I HAVE chosen John Vaillant’s 1st full-length work, “The Golden Spruce”, as my next read. Another non-fiction work as I am rarely into fiction these days.

Vaillant was a journalist who has worked with The New Yorker and National Geographic. I picked up his second book, “The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival”, back in 2016 during one of my weekly trips to Booksale.

Set in the harsher environments in Russia, the story told of a tiger seemingly wanting to take vengeance after nearly being killed by a hunter. Vaillant told it with such vivid imagery and I was hooked. I knew he was a writer to look out for.

And so when I encountered “The Golden Spruce” in my favorite online bookstore, The Book Snoop, I knew I had to have this book. Do check out Book Snoop’s Facebook page. If you’re a huge bookworm, you’ll find amazing titles here. But I digress.

“The Golden Spruce” synopsis reads:

“When a shattered kayak and camping gear are found on an uninhabited island in the Pacific Northwest, they reignite a mystery surrounding a shocking act of protest. Five months earlier, logger-turned-environmentalist Grant Hadwin plunged naked into a river in British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands, towing a chainsaw. When his night’s work was done, a unique Sika spruce 165 feet tall and covered with luminous golden needles, teetered on its stump. Two days later it fell.”

Off the bat I knew it was going to be a good read since I also love a good mystery. Who was Hadwin? Why his change of heart? Why the act against the golden spruce?

I’m not two chapters into the book yet but Vaillant has already given me a picture (once again through his use of vivid imagery) of the uninhabited islands off the borders of Alaska and Canada and a history of how logging (unprecedented at that time) changed the course of the world wars, trade and industry and the quest of countries for world dominance.

It was fascinating to read about how logging by residents of the islands where the story takes place resulted in their displacement and many times death among tribe members.

For many years now, trees have been the “sacrificial logs” for development. At high cost to man.

During the peak of the monsoon rains last week, a huge part of the trunk of a dead pine tree from our neighbor’s lot, broke off and fell a good twenty meters to the road. Thankfully no one was hurt, no electrical posts and cars hit, and our house spared.

According to our neighbor, the pine tree was worm-infested, reason it died. He added there are two other dead trees now awaiting a tree cutting permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera.

I don’t know the reason how trees become infested with worms or how to cure them. Men, on the other hand, has a worm that could really destroy us to our roots. And that is greed. How to cure greed could be a long and painful process. Sometimes it may take the figurative chainsaw.

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