THE ATTENTIVE HEART by Stephanie Kaza

THE ATTENTIVE HEART

Conversations with Trees
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Twenty-seven lyrical, beautifully illustrated essays about communing with trees. Kaza (Environmental Studies/University of Vermont) tries to marry deep ecology with the ``Mountains and Rivers Sutra'' of the ninth-century Japanese Zen master Eihei Dogen. Like the sutra, the book progresses in five sections, beginning with the ``simple desire to meet trees and make contact'' to the desire to ``uncover more complete histories of individual trees,'' as well as to ``experience a certain vulnerability in raising difficult questions'' about life and death among trees and humans; then going, third, through an entering into the sufferings of trees and on, fourth, to a response in ways that ``are heartfelt and genuine'' and that ``aim for greater capacity in approaching the very demanding situation of trees today''; and, lastly, taking up a search for ways ``to restore spiritual as well as biological relationships with trees....'' Kaza is deeply serious as she strives for the heartfelt in trees growing up the Coast Ranges of central California, and in Washington, Oregon, and the Sierra Nevada. She fights TV and nature movies that offer ``delusional substitutes for rich, sensory contact with the actual rhythms and textures of the natural world'' (an argument very similar to Bill McKibben's in The Age of Missing Information, 1992). Hers are one- sided conversations: The redwoods, alders, maples, and oaks don't answer back. But we get many wonderful moments down in the drinking roots of sycamores; up in the spring ecstasy of pollinating maples; sitting in the still wisdom of caves; and watching a nervous Kaza, with a diamond mind and chain saw, cutting firewood that she praises. Too talky at times, but readers who stay will be rich winners. Could achieve a cult following. (Twenty-seven lithographs by Davis Teselle) (First serial to New Age Journal)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-449-90779-1
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1993