Maybe you’ve seen it in almost every single instagram photo I’ve taken over the last year. It’s corners are bent, there’s coffee spills between the pages, and there’s highlighted portions and notes throughout. It’s been a New York Times Bestseller for ever and a day, but also one of the books I have kept returning to throughout this time. I’ve found Robin Wall Kimmerer’s poetic storytelling so moving and clear, that even when announcing my own second book, it was used as a reference.
If you read nothing else for the remainder of August, let it be this.
Where I Read It:
Mostly in the park during stay at home orders.
How Long Did It Take To Read?
I read it last year, but not in the same respect and surely not in its entirety. It took a month of just picking it up whenever I could this spring.
But I have kept it in my bag to return to and highlight some powerful parts.
Stand Out Quote:
“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-than-human world. We can do it through gratitude, through ceremony, through land stewardship, science, art, and in everyday acts of practical reverence.”
“Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.”
“Being naturalized to place means to live as if this is the land that feeds you, as if these are the streams from which you drink, that build your body and fill your spirit. To become naturalized is to know that your ancestors lie in this ground. Here you will give your gifts and meet your responsibilities. To become naturalized is to live as if your children’s future matters, to take care of the land as if our lives and the lives of all our relatives depend on it. Because they do.”
In My Eyes
In a season that has us home more than not, or simply outside exploring the ground that we have access to, I’ve found Kimmerer’s words to be soul moving and comforting. Through it’s stories and connection to science, Native land and practices, I was taught that my natural rejection of some things and deep belief of mutual respect for shared space is an important compass. Braiding Sweetgrass reminded me that we are connected to earth and one another and what happens to the stories of those before us, and the lives of those after us.
This makes the best gift, and is the perfect book to continue to return to.
Have you read this book? Any plans to? Would love to hear!
(A Book of Month right here too)