The Secret Life of Trees

I’ve recently been revising my novel Indian Summer to add more conflict and mystical experiences. The story is about how Marcie tries to stop development of an old growth forest on the lake where her grandparents live.

A few weeks ago I went to a film festival sponsored by the Indiana Forest Alliance and connected with the Development Director, Sandra Messner. We had a great conversation which sparked some ideas that I plan to incorporate into the novel. The Alliance’s mission is “to preserve and restore Indiana’s native forest ecosystem for the enjoyment of all.” The Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ mantra is that “for forests to be healthy, they need to be logged” which does not support preservation of our old growth forests. Sounds like a good start for some conflict to develop!

I also ordered the book, The Hidden Life of Trees – What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben, which arrived yesterday. I’m super excited to read it. The inside flap says,

“…trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers.”

This begs the question of whether trees are sentient beings. In The Field I explore the Universal Energy Field and Collective Consciousness as they relate to the interconnectedness of humans, but what about other living (and even non-‘living’) entities like animals and plants (or the Earth itself)? Are they connected? Do plants have feelings? There is another book that looks interesting on this subject The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Thompkins and Christopher Bird. In her book, The Intention Experiment, Lynne McTaggart cites experiments by Cleve Backster showing that plants react to human intentions.

Research is one of the best parts of writing. The idea that plants are sentient beings and have feelings and react to danger and human activity is super intriguing! Can’t wait to learn more and incorporate it into Indian Summer.

The Indiana Forest Alliance aims to preserve forests for the enjoyment of all. In Japan, the practice of ‘Forest Bathing’ is widely practiced. Spending time in nature is scientifically proven to improve your health. I’ve even read that some physicians are prescribing time in nature as treatment. This is one of the reasons that I incorporate environmental themes in my novels. The natural world is beautiful, awe-inspiring, priceless and feeds our souls. We must be the Earth’s caretakers, not exploiters.

Clean, Renewable Energy

One of the themes of The Field is the benefits of clean, renewable energy sources versus burning fossil fuels or using nuclear energy. In my research for the book I was surprised to learn that France generates 76% of its energy from nuclear plants and 14% from hydropower. This was a conscious decision for France to become energy independent after the 1970’s Mid-East Energy Crisis. While I’m not a particular fan of nuclear energy and the resulting radioactive waste and potential for reactor breach, it is a clean source of energy.

I recently read that Germany made a decision after Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011 to shut down all its nuclear power plants by 2022. See article in the LA Times. Germany also decided to close all of its coal plants by 2038 and to spend millions mitigating the impact on the coal regions. This is the kind of energy leadership we need.

Central Indiana is dotted with wind farms which I find surprising in the coal belt. Both major north-south highways to the east and west of the state pass through giant wind turbines. The one near I-65 is the largest east of the Mississippi.

Kind-of makes me proud to live in Indiana.

Midwestern Beauty – Research for The Field

The subtle beauty of the Midwest features prominently in The Field. I love the big sky and clouds arching over the plains. One of the places Eric and Renee visit is an actual place from my childhood – The Skokie Lagoons. Of course it’s fictionalized in the book, but the inspiration is located in Glencoe and Winnetka, IL where I grew up.

The Skokie Lagoons

It’s a marshy area that was turned into lagoons by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930’s and is now a wooded recreation destination area. It’s such a beautiful area I wanted to include it in my book.

What do you love about the Midwest scenery? What is one of your favorite places?

straws

Small Things I Do For The Environment – Straws

Reusable camping straws

My books all have environmental themes. I’m passionate about protecting the environment. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, like there is little we can do as individuals. So I do small things that if we were all to do them, would have a tremendous impact.

You’ve probably read about straws showing up on beaches and in the stomachs of sea birds and whales. A few countries and US cities have banned straws. In the Midwest, we’re WAY behind the curve. You get a straw with your water at a restaurant every time and by the time you remember to request NO STRAW, it’s too late. The straw is out of the paper wrapper and in your drink.

A friend turned me on to these camping straws that I found at Target. They’re metal with a rubber tip and for those of you concerned with cleanliness, even come with a tiny brush for cleaning!! I keep one in my purse. It was a four-pack, but I forgot one at a restaurant – easy to do. 🙁 I even request paper cups instead of plastic for my to-go cold drinks and no plastic lids which is a spill hazard, but worth not having the plastic lid. It’s surprisingly hard to remember to do and the sales people give me strange looks, but its a small thing that I can actively do.

What are you doing for the environment? I’d love to hear and incorporate your ideas.