By Audrey Andrews | September 18th, 2020
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer is one the books I selected to bring me comfort and happiness through reminders of life outdoors during my brief return to New York City. I’ve seen the book on many reading lists I follow, but it had yet to make the trip into my hands. Perhaps the best science podcast, Ologies, featured Dr. Kimmerer as a moss expert. Her soothing voice and Alie Ward’s discussion of Braiding Sweetgrass did me in.
Braiding Sweetgrass sat in my suitcase from Colorado to New York. It will forever be remembered as the book I was reading the day I quit my job in New York City to pursue my passions; it holds special meaning for me. The pages of Braiding Sweetgrass were one of my only forms of reconciliation while I gathered my thoughts and things and made sweeping changes.
Kimmerer writes with love. Her passion for the world reverberates in each word. She does not advocate that humans leave wild things alone. Instead, she braids the history of humans and plants together to eloquently explain why we need each other. As an Indigenous American, Kimmerer speaks to the ways in which people have interacted with the land of the Americas, and particularly within the Finger Lakes region of New York.
I am embarrassed to say I was unaware of the destruction of habitats like Onondaga Lake , despite having visited the area more than once. I suppose this only reinforces her point that the vast majority of us are horridly unaware of the damage we cause. We take instead of give. Giving implies a relationship, an obligation. The economic transactions which have come to define the modern world’s interactions with the Earth fail to create a reciprocal relationship.
We must thank plants. We must love them. They give us everything. It is time we give back. I am grateful to take this knowledge into the next chapter of my life. Consumers throughout the modern world should read what Kimmerer writes; perhaps they will think of themselves as consumers no longer. I hope all readers may find this book at just the right time, as I did.