The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature

The Forest Unseen A Year s Watch in Nature A biologist reveals the secret world hidden in a single square meter of forest In this wholly original book biologist David Haskell uses a one square meter patch of old growth Tennessee forest as a w

  • Title: The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature
  • Author: David George Haskell
  • ISBN: 9780670023370
  • Page: 280
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A biologist reveals the secret world hidden in a single square meter of forest.In this wholly original book, biologist David Haskell uses a one square meter patch of old growth Tennessee forest as a window onto the entire natural world Visiting it almost daily for one year to trace nature s path through the seasons, he brings the forest and its inhabitants to vivid life.EA biologist reveals the secret world hidden in a single square meter of forest.In this wholly original book, biologist David Haskell uses a one square meter patch of old growth Tennessee forest as a window onto the entire natural world Visiting it almost daily for one year to trace nature s path through the seasons, he brings the forest and its inhabitants to vivid life.Each of this book s short chapters begins with a simple observation a salamander scuttling across the leaf litter the first blossom of spring wildflowers From these, Haskell spins a brilliant web of biology and ecology, explaining the science that binds together the tiniest microbes and the largest mammals and describing the ecosystems that have cycled for thousands sometimes millions of years Each visit to the forest presents a nature story in miniature as Haskell elegantly teases out the intricate relationships that order the creatures and plants that call it home.Written with remarkable grace and empathy, The Forest Unseen is a grand tour of nature in all its profundity Haskell is a perfect guide into the world that exists beneath our feet and beyond our backyards.

    One thought on “The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature”

    1. Letter I wrote to the author:I’ve just finished reading The Forest Unseen. I have slowly savored your book over many weeks, reading one day’s entry, at most two, at one sitting. I have never read anyone who combined a meditative consciousness with a scientist’s mind so beautifully. You presented the theme of the interconnectedness of all things so delightfully in so many amazing forms: bird’s eggs, vultures, lichen, and the roothair-fungus relationship all come easily to mind as examples [...]

    2. I should have loved The Forest Unseen. Forests delight me, and I've also spent time sitting in them and simply watching. There are many thoughts and opinions that Haskell and I share. Unfortunately, this book just bored me. Maybe it's my own fault, because I tried to read it through like I would any novel, instead of savoring it bite-by-bite, as other readers did. But I think there may be a legitimate reason: The writing.It was sloppy. Poetic, but sloppy. (And the poetic descriptions weren't eve [...]

    3. The premise of this most excellent natural history of a forest is that the author stakes out a small circle in the woods, say about 4-6 feet across, in a tiny tiny (but one of the only left, sigh) old growth forest remnant in eastern tennessee. He goes out everyday for a year and “just sits there” observing the plants and animals. Of course that is a bit of a simplification as he discussed things like the lifecycle of salamanders and butterflies and migrating tufted titmice and deer and hick [...]

    4. e search for the universal within the infinitesimally smallHaskell chooses a small parcel of land, his "mandala", in the old-growth forest of central Tennessee. Every few days, he goes to his mandala to observe, take notes, look closer with his hand lens, and listen. This book incorporates the field notes of what he sees, hears, and smells, but also the meditations, and the information behind these observations over one full year. With the eye of a biologist, but also the musings of a philosophe [...]

    5. Well, I'm clearly in the vast minority here, but I'm just not enjoying this book enough to push through and finish it. There have been a couple of chapters that I've found pretty interesting, but they've been few and far between, and at times I've found myself feeling pretty skeptical about what he's describing (for instance the entire chapter where he decides to take all of his clothes off in the middle of winter to see what animals feel in the cold, and it somehow doesn't occur to him until th [...]

    6. I really loved this book. Haskell, a biology prof at The University of the South, has sort of cordoned off a square meter of land in an old-growth forest in Tennessee. Several times a week for a year he goes to this "mandala", sits on a rock, and just observes, sometimes up close with a magnifying glass. It is a book you must read slowly, maybe a 4or 5 page segment at a time. I learned so much about so many aspects of plants and animals and Haskell writes like a poet (but not remotely cornily). [...]

    7. If you liked this book, you might also enjoy:✱ A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There✱ Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival✱ Summer World: A Season of Bounty✱ The Trees in My Forest✱ A Year In The Woods: The Diary Of A Forest Ranger✱ Wildwood: A Journey through Trees✱ The Hidden Life of Trees✱ Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field

    8. This is the kind of non fiction I loveI have met the author, he is a professor where my daughter attends college. My daughter and I went on a bird walk he led on campus in spring 2012 before she decided to attend the school, even though she does not intend to pursue the sciences I think he had a positive effect on her.(She did not want to go on the bird walk and without saying so I could see she enjoyed it!) He's the real deal, naturalist I mean, tempting to think of him as a Monty Python type f [...]

    9. How much can you learn about the forest by observing a square meter patch of it (and pretty much only that square meter)? How much could you learn about things beyond the forest, about the overall ecology of the region, the continent, the world, about a variety of concepts in weather, geology, evolution, ecology, botany, and natural selection? Can the universal really be understood by contemplating the “infinitesimally small?” Borrowing a term from Buddhism, author David George Haskell decid [...]

    10. This book made me mad. Not because it wasn't extremely good -- it was -- it's because I wanted to write this book, at least I did in my 20s. That said, I'm sure I would never had done it as well as David George Haskell has.The concept of the book is simple. Haskell takes a very small area (I believe a square meter) in the mountains of Tennessee and watches it very closely through a full calendar year, with the eye of a highly trained biologist and ecologist, then tells us what he sees. The resul [...]

    11. There is a grand tradition of naturalist-writing that emphasizes close observation of nature and the wonder and awe that can come from it. Bernd Heinrich is one of my favorites, writing "A Year in the Maine Woods," "Winter World", and "Summer World", among others. Now there's this delightful celebration of attentive observation by David George Haskell. Restricting himself to a small patch of old-growth forest he calls his "mandala", Haskell follows the intricate interactions there through a year [...]

    12. Great read. The Forest UnseenDavid George Haskel begins the book with a description of Tibetan Monks making a sand painting, a Mandala, to which he compares his own exploration of a one square meter patch of an old growth forest, on property owned by the University of the South. His description of the small bit of land as a Mandala is more than an interesting metaphor. Like the sand painting of the monks, his patch of old growth forest was a place of observation and contemplation, from which his [...]

    13. This book is incredible. It was probably more interesting to me than the average person because I have a Biology degree, but the writing was so accessible, poetic, and uplifting. The author spends a year watching a square of old growth forest floor (he calls it a mandala) and the book is a series of essays discussing the things he discovers about nature and about himself. My favorite chapter was "Earthstar" where he discusses human impact on the earth and how we need to have more compassion for [...]

    14. A true poet-scientist, David Haskell writes evocatively about the hidden wonders of our biological world. He does this so vividly, choosing to listen and watch in a way few of us ever do, scientists included, as a small patch of land becomes his meditation chamber through the changes and surprises of an entire year. Journaling through this experience, Haskell demonstrates the need for some type of contemplative spirituality to walk hand-in-hand with our empirical understanding of this existence. [...]

    15. DGH returns to the same square meter of forest every day for a year and sees in that square meter much more than one might expect. I found the book an inspiration on observing, on finding patterns of interconnection, and on journaling. Readers will also walk away with a great deal of information about fungi, plants, lichens, etc. -- in my case, probably more than I could retain.

    16. This is a must-read! A modern classic by a truly insightful naturalist and just a beautifully written book. "Over and over, seek out the sensory details"

    17. un ottimo libro, ricco di informazioni biologiche e delle loro infinite interazioni. scrittura semplice e precisa, divulgazione naturalistica decisamente ben fatta.

    18. Cuantas cosas se pueden ver en un mandala! Qué forma de explicarlas, qué pasión! Me hubiera gustado algun dibujo que ilustrase algunas especies que Haskel ve para ayudar a visualizarlas.Bonitas reflexiones además de necesarias. Mezcla preciosa de conocimiento y emociones personales que destilan sus palabras.Anima a cualquiera a ver los bosques cómo algo más allá de lo que vemos a primera vista, aprofundizar y aprender a sentir con todos nuestros sentidos.

    19. This book is a lyrical treasure, rewarding brisk reading with a rapidly unfolding picture or the beauty of the world; a picture that does not bypass scientific knowledge but uses it productively in building a larger and richer experience of nature. The power of sustained observation of nature to enrich our experience and gain an appropriately humble context is well demonstrated, and perhaps even passed forward. It provides another entry in "night-reading": a break from analysis and instruction t [...]

    20. We wonder about people who study things that we're not interested in: "How could they spend all that time studying that?" but never take the time to ask them and thus dispel our ignorance. This book helps to see behind that veil from a biologist's perspective. The book basically consists of short essays on many interesting processes one may have never considered in nature, such as: How are egg shells made? Why is there fluid at the aphid's butt? The intriguing thing about this book is how intric [...]

    21. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In "The Forest Unseen," the traditions of writers like Thoreau and Annie Dillard are blended with aspects of Zen Buddhism, thoughts on "observation," and legit scientific information to form an engaging meditation on the complexity and mysteries of nature. Haskell, a biology professor at the University of the South, spends an entire year quietly observing a square yard of old growth forest in Tennessee. Each chapter is a meditation on a different aspect of this te [...]

    22. A collection of Taoist meditations masquerading as a nature journal, very rich and best consumed in small sips.David George Haskell brings a deeply holistic, long-view approach to current problems like the population explosion of white-tailed deer and its association with disease vector ticks. He has the mindfulness to watch a flower bud open in real time. He writes, “The human body and the snail body are made from the same wet pieces of carbon and clay, so if consciousness grows out of this n [...]

    23. Um.Man, I love science.I loved learning the random facts in this book. Like how there are so many nematodes on earth that (they say) if all other matter disappeared, you'd still be able to see the outlines of everything, limned in squirming nematodes.Like how moss creates vitamins to prevent itself from being wrecked by extra sunlight. (I am a little hazy on the details of photosynthesis but I think this is how it works.)Like why hickory trees bud out later than maple trees and why that explains [...]

    24. A thoughtful book, really a meditation, one the ecology of southern hard wood, old growth forests, told through the passage of a single small patch, over a single year. This book does not have any consistent plot or characters (in fact the narrator strives to remove himself as much as possible) and it should be best thought of as a collection of essays. Because of this structure it is easy to pick up, put down, and use as literary mortar, filling in the 10min holes in our days. The single best p [...]

    25. What depth and breadth! From photons of light to the plants and animals they power, this book covered a lot of ground. Each subject discussed was interesting to me and I was happy with each topic. However, I listened to an audio version of this, and it just didn't work for me. Maybe it was the writing? Maybe it was the narrator? I felt so frustrated the entire time because I love reading about everything in this book, but I just didn't want to keep listening to this particular book. When I was d [...]

    26. This is the best book on nature I’ve ever read. David Haskell is a genius in describing the world in which we live, and leading us through: the small, the large, time, the beauty, and connections that we can comprehend on some scales, but barely absorb on others. I suspect I’ll be reading this book again, and again. It is not a fast read. At least, I did not want to read it quickly. There is so much detail, but Mr. Haskell explains this world so well that no prior experience in biology is re [...]

    27. For awhile now I have wished for a book that would be life changing. I can name a few books in my history of reading that effected such change in my soul. The Forest Unseen is now in line with those life-changing books. I can't explain how powerful this book just have to read it. It is one of the most beautiful experiences. It inspires me to understand more of the world we live in and it bonds me with the place I call home, Sewanee, TN. Thank you David Haskell for the gifts you share. I c [...]

    28. I admit I am a naturalist geek so this was a great book for me. It is a slow read and each chapter is fairly independent so you can put it down and pick it up for a short contemplation. The author is a professor and his vocabulary can get a little technical but in all I think he did a nice job of using imagery and language to poetic effect. I think this would be a nice book to read throughout the year so you can experience the seasons along with him. I also think photographs would have been a ni [...]

    29. Excellent, informative and delightful. This differs from many nature books in that Haskell has used local observations to expand on more general science topics – fungi, pest control, how chemicals move within leaves, to mention only a few – so that even though his “mandala” focus is in Tennessee, most of it applies to my rainy region in Oregon. Haskell is a scientist, but is still able to write that a slug has a mantle that stetches “the entire length of the back, like the icing on a p [...]

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