Have a look at this wonderful video about my book in the works, Witness Tree. 

Big thanks to my friends at the Knight Fellowship in Science Journalism at MIT for their work creating this amazing trailer about my project exploring the human and natural history of a 100-year old red oak here at the Harvard Forest for my book, forthcoming from Bloomsbury Publishing.

The crew from the Knight Program made lots of trips out to the forest beginning last fall to make this film, recording in all kinds of weather and even climbing the big oak with me with help from champion tree climbers Bear and Melissa LeVangie of Trees New England.


Getting ready to climb the big oak last March with Melissa, green fleece, and Bear, red fleece. That’s Patrick chugging the last of his coffee, and Rachael.


Several fellows in the Knight program this year recorded footage,  including Rachael Buchanan a medical producer at the BBC, who also worked up a beautiful animation segment. Patrick Wellever, former director of multi-media training for the program,  now headed to a great new job at National Geographic, was the film’s mastermind and producer.

I’m doubly grateful to the Knight program because I got the idea for this book while a Knight Fellow in 2013-14 and a guest in the Richardson Lab at Harvard University. That work paid off with a book contract, and a Bullard Fellowship in Forest Research at the Harvard Forest this year, where I have been since last fall, at work on the book.

The trailer captures the project and magic of the big oak perfectly.

I love the combination of experiences in the film, from the climb, to the animation, and some great time lapse of the tree going through its seasonal year, captured from the web cam that the Knight program also provided for my project. The web cam photographs the tree as it winds through its seasonal gyre. Fresh images of the tree are uploaded to the Harvard Forest web cam page every 30 minutes during daylight hours, year round.

The tree looks particularly beautiful today in its fresh new leaves, emerged only a week or so ago. That bit of wiggle in the image is maybe a slug trail, I think, on the cover over the lens. I’ll head over to the tree after I type this to have a look, and wipe it off. Easier than brushing snow off the cover all winter!  But I don’t know…slug trails and black flies versus snow…I’ll have to think about that one…but I know this for sure. It’s always good to be out with the tree.




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