I’m excited about my first public book talk on my Witness Tree project his week. On Wednesday the Harvard Forest and the Athol Bird and Nature Club are hosting a presentation at the beautiful, classic Fisher Museum at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA. We’ll probably broadcast the talk live on the Web, too, stay tuned for an update on that. I hope my collaborators at the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT, the Harvard Forest and the Richardson Lab at Harvard University will make it out for the talk. I know for sure lots of nature aficionados from the local community will be there…I have been so impressed by the dedicated and enthusiastic community of naturalists here in the Petersham and Athol community and environs. 

Up in the trees in the Harvard Forest with the Richardson Lab. Andrew Richardson, associate professor Harvard University, left, and Morgan Furze, PhD student, right.


I will show lots of slides of the trees, native plants, and animals I have come to know here in the Harvard Forest, and some of my work with collaborators reporting my book Witness Tree, under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing. I’ve been at work on the book here since moving in at the Harvard Forest last September as a Bullard Fellow in forest research. The book takes a deep long look at the history of one tree here at the forest — a beautiful, 100-year old red oak, to tell the story of our twined human and natural histories, and changing relationship with nature. I’m focusing in particular on phenology, the practice of observing seasonal changes in nature.


John O’Keefe, field phonologist at the Harvard Forest, recording the seasonal progression of BT QURU 03, the red oak I am observing for my book, Witness Tree.



By watching nature — especially the seasonal progression of the tree canopy — we can see the workings of the ecology of the forest, and how they are changing because of climate change. I’ll talk more about this on Wednesday. Meanwhile…the snow here has been spectacular, we’ve had more than a foot of pure sparkling white and the lengthening days of February and clear blue skies and sunny afternoons have made for delicious explorations in the woods. 

My tracks from a sunset snowshoe yesterday. The weather has been exquisite for a snow-started Seattleite.

My tracks from a sunset snowshoe yesterday. The weather has been exquisite for a snow-starved Seattleite.

The writing is going well, I’m about finished with chapter six (of ten in the book.) So there will be plenty to talk about Wednesday!  Thanks to the forest and the Athol Bird and Nature Club for sponsoring. And an early valentine to Emery Boose, special investigator and information manager at the Harvard Forest for getting the Witness Tree cam up and running today after a hiatus when the cable failed. We’re back to posting beautiful live images of the Witness Tree on the Harvard Forest web site, along with other web cams in the forest, 365 days a year during daylight hours. Enjoy…it’s a beautiful tree. Thanks to the KSJ program, which purchased the camera, and to the Harvard Forest for all the technical support. It will be great fun to watch these images change daily as the big oak’s leaves start to come out. 


The Witness Tree, beautifully captured on the Web cam. Live images are beamed to the Harvard Forest home page. Watch the tree go through its seasonal year.



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