ME AND MY MOSS MENTOR!
Sweet friends —
Do you want to hear a story about sisterhood and support? OK, here goes!
So "The Signature of All Things" is about a 19th century female botanist who studies mosses, right? Which meant that I had to do a lot of research about moss. Which led me to a remarkable book called "Gathering Moss" by a brilliant contemporary female bryologist (moss expert!) named Dr Robin Wall-Kimmerer, who writes both soulfully and scientifically about the magical microscopic world of mosses. (It is from her writings that I learned the wonderful concept that "moss is water made visible." Which will forever change the way you look at moss, because wherever it is…that's where the water runs or pools.)
After three years of research, I had a 70 page outline for my novel, but I still wasn't sure if my moss science was correct and plausible. I got up the courage to write a love letter to Robin, and to ask if I could come on a pilgrimage to meet her, and to talk about my still-unborn novel. She warmly agreed. I drove to upstate NY to spend the day with her in her farmhouse. I could not have been more nervous if I'd been meeting Bruce Springsteen — she is my MOSS ROCKSTAR!
She welcomed me into her warm and sprawling farmhouse and fed me quiche and tea. She took me walking in the woods to talk about mosses. She shared wisdom and grace with me. She talked about light and shade and life and death and nature and resilience. She showed me how to look under logs and rocks, and how to peek into crevices for secret signs of life. She spoke like the poet she is, and the scientist she is. She could not have been more generous and open. Then she listened as I told her, from beginning to end, the entire story of the novel I wanted to write. I asked her if it sounded at all historically or scientifically plausible, and she said… YES.
In that moment, I knew for the first time in all certainty that I could really write this book (I hadn't really known, during those three years of research) and, indeed, I started writing it the very next day, as soon as I got home. Because Robin had given me the blessings, the permission, the confidence, I needed to begin.
And now I delighted to say that HER book has come out the very same month as mine — a book for which I wrote an ecstatically praiseful blurb, because it is gorgeous. "Braiding Sweetgrass" is a series of interconnected essays and meditations on a life spent in holy communion with nature. Robin is a magnificent writer and a magnificent observer (and celebrator) of the world…the rare environmentalist who not only loves Earth, but who believes in her soul that the Earth (STILL) loves us in return.
Her book is beautiful, hopeful, generous and wise — filled with the science that she loves and the indigenous teachings of her Native American heritage…and deeply intimate as a mother's story, as well.
And here is a photo of Robin's book right next to mine in a bookstore! This make me happy because I know that my novel will always be braided tightly to Robin's work, and I hope her work will always be braided closely to mine.
So that is my story, and I hope you will buy Robin's book…it will make your world bigger and more beautiful:
A toast to sisterhood and love,