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In Their Branches - Book Review

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by Jenny Esots (subscribe)
A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Published June 24th 2015
What is your favourite tree?
This book is a collective of stories, poems, remembrances and memoir that pays homage to trees. It came about through social media. Over three hundred people submitted their recollections, before a book was even thought of. Things snowballed as it was clear people hold trees very dear to their being.

In Their Branches  photo Jenny Esots
In Their Branches photo Jenny Esots

Called the 'Trees Project' and run by Radio National it released a rush of storytelling, experiences and memories from all across the nation. These stories are not from well known writers, but everyday people. The stories were collated into this volume entitled 'In their Branches' which is edited by Gretchen Miller. The original question asked was 'What is your favourite tree?' Such evocative and quirky responses are shared within.

Up in their branches  photo Jenny Esots
Up in their branches photo Jenny Esots

The ethos of the title is related as 'Up in their branches we have let our imaginations soar, found a sanctuary away from our troubles, and felt connected to nature and life and the ages.'

Old Willunga Courthouse historic trees  Photo Jenny Esots
Old Willunga Courthouse historic trees Photo Jenny Esots

The initiative for sharing responses on the 'Trees project' is also a warning about our planet, climate change and the very real threat to our forests, oceans and biodiversity. Extreme weather events are increasing as climate changes insidious onset continues. The organisers of this project tell of connecting people to their heart places as a way of awakening the larger threat to the environment.

Up in their branches  photo Jenny Esots
Up in their branches photo Jenny Esots

Perhaps these shared personal stories will lead to more environmental activism. Every little bit of increased consciousness in our own backyards can bring about change. Recently there has been a movement to preserve our significant trees as treasured members of our community. It is an uphill battle as land developers insist on maximum profits before historic trees and landscapes.

The Money Tree Art Exhibition  Photo Jenny Esots
The Money Tree Art Exhibition Photo Jenny Esots

Small action groups of local people can make a difference. Artists, community leaders and environmental groups have been harnessing every day people into action and raising awareness. As an example local Southern Vales artist Brian Kowald highlights the beautiful significant trees in his local area with his exhibition The Money Tree. This exhibition is currently showing at Fox Creek Winery.

What is your favourite tree?  Photo Jenny Esots
What is your favourite tree? Photo Jenny Esots

In Their Branches is divided into categories that pertain to the life of people and trees. The chapters are listed as: History, Delicious, Sanctuary, Land, Joy, Loss and Soul. This is such a rich vein of story telling. Plus it is so easy to read, as each little vignette is only a page or two. Dipping into these remembrances can be a little bit like a history capsule. Will there be trees for kids to disappear into in the future? Or will our trees be relegated to distant places and museums, written words and endless regulations.
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Why? A memoir of trees
Where: On sale at ABC Book stores, online and all good book outlets.
Cost: Hardback $24.99 ABC Shops, Published 2015
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