I don't think I could explain the essence of this beautiful book any better than Kimmerer’s own words do: "I lean in close to watch and listen to those who are far wiser than I am. What I share here...are seeds gleaned from the fields of their collective wisdom..." (180). Sweetgrass is her guide, each chapter layered with the same patience, respect, and indigenous knowledge that it takes to sustainably complete the cycle of sweetgrass itself. However, it is with the added help from strawberries, maple trees, cattails, garden vegetables, buffalo and salmon (just to name a few) that Kimmerer teaches readers to live a life led by reciprocity, gratitude, and balance--just as she was taught. Reading the stories is a sweet and slow process, but one that will leave you with a little hope, and much to pass on.
Named a "Best Essay Collection of the Decade" by Literary HubAs a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on "a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise" (Elizabeth Gilbert). Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings--asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass--offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.
About the Author
Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants and Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. She lives in Syracuse, New York, where she is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, and the founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.