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A Sanctuary of Trees

Beechnuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats, and Benedictions

As author Gene Logsdon puts it, “We are all tree huggers.” But not just for sentimental or even environmental reasons. Humans have always depended on trees for our food, shelter, livelihood, and safety. In many ways, despite the Grimm’s fairy-tale version of the dark, menacing forest, most people still hold a deep cultural love of woodland settings, and feel right at home in the woods.

In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world. Whether as an adolescent studying at a seminary or as a journalist living just outside Philadelphia’s city limits, Gene has always lived and worked close to the woods, and his curiosity and keen sense of observation have taught him valuable lessons about a wide variety of trees: their distinct characteristics and the multiple benefits and uses they have.

In addition to imparting many fascinating practical details of woods wisdom, A Sanctuary of Trees is infused with a philosophy and descriptive lyricism that is born from the author’s passionate and lifelong relationship with nature: There is a point at which the tree shudders before it begins its descent. Then slowly it tips, picks up speed, often with a kind of wailing death cry from rending wood fibers, and hits the ground with a whump that literally shakes the earth underfoot. The air, in the aftermath, seems to shimmy and shiver, as if saturated with static electricity. Then follows an eerie silence, the absolute end to a very long life.

Fitting squarely into the long and proud tradition of American nature writing, A Sanctuary of Trees also reflects Gene Logsdon’s unique personality and perspective, which have marked him over the course of his two dozen previous books as the authentic voice of rural life and traditions.

Reviews and Praise

  • Booklist-
    In more than two dozen works of nonfiction, horticulture expert Logsdon has doled out invaluable advice on everything from berry growing and organic orcharding to homesteading and managing manure. Now, at 79, reflecting back on a life spent in close proximity to the woodland groves of his native rural Ohio, Logsdon offers both a fond recollection of his long relationship with trees and a meditation on the remarkable versatility of harvested timber. Beginning with his boyhood days on an Ohio family farm where his love of nature first took root, Logsdon takes the reader through his adolescence at a seminary where the one bright spot was a nearby forest, to his first professional job with Farm Journal in then untamed suburban Philadelphia, and finally back to Ohio, living with his growing family in a tree shadowed country home. Yet his own reminiscences are just a staging ground for a plethora of fascinating tree facts, including a virtual manual on using wood for total energy self-sufficiency. As always, Logsdon’s superbly measured prose entertains as much as it educates.

More Reviews and Praise

  • ForeWord Reviews-
    Gene Logsdon is a man with a mission: He wants to encourage Americans to maintain small home woodlots, heat with wood, and return to what he calls a wood culture and a wood economy. A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon’s latest book, discusses in detail the feasibility of depending on wood for fuel, both for individual households and for our country as a whole. He makes a strong case. 

In A Sanctuary of Trees the reader learns about trees in American history and culture, how fast different species grow, how easily their wood splits, how hot it burns, and even which wood leaves fewest ashes. Techniques the author shares for using a chainsaw may save some fingers—certainly they should save some aggravation! The pleasures of gathering nuts and tips for cracking them come into the picture, too. 

Memoir, argument, lessons learned, advice offered—beyond these valuable elements, the book is simply a delight to read. Every page is rich with the happiness of a life well lived, a life the author wishes for us all. Like the woodlots he values so deeply, A Sanctuary of Trees is both resource and refuge. It is impossible to read this without feeling enlightened and grateful.

  • "Logsdon peels away the storied layers of our forests and beckons us to rekindle our connections with our most constant companions -- trees. This book belongs as much in the hands of educators as it does on every homesteader's handmade bookshelf. Seldom are reminiscences so forward-looking ... but that is ultimately Logsdon's hallmark as an author."--Philip Ackerman-Leist, professor, Green Mountain College, and author of Up Tunket Road

  • "I am more enamored with Gene Logsdon than ever after reading A Sanctuary of Trees. Without melodrama, angst, or anything resembling shock value, this lush autobiography details Mr. Logsdon's relationship with -- of all things -- trees! Trees. How sane and civilized it is. I learned so much from this grounded and completely wonderful book."--Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land

  • "A Sanctuary of Trees is a beguiling, companionable read, full of sharp-eyed wonder, genuine humility, and a thousand nuts of useful wisdom: when and how to build a plank road; how to not get killed felling an old tree; how to get lost, and found; and -- if you read his book as Logsdon walks his woods -- how to live a long, alert, insatiably engaged life. This one's a keeper."--David Dobbs, author, Reef Madness, and coauthor, The Northern Forest

  • "Back in 1929 J. Russell Smith published his classic Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture. At the time, and mostly since, hardly anyone seemed interested in reading about, let alone doing, farming that includes trees as part of an appropriate, resilient agriculture and even suggesting that such agriculture is a love of country. I didn't expect to ever see a book like Smith's again, yet now we have Gene Logsdon's A Sanctuary of Trees, a renewal of all those classic ideas cast in the context of today's, and hopefully, tomorrow's world."--Frederick Kirschenmann, author of Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher

  • "Gene Logsdon does it again! This time he is out past the gardens, beyond the meadows, and deep into the groves and woodlots he has known and loved. What he brings back is a lover's report on a life-long affair of his. He is still contrary, thank goodness, more respectful of forests than of forestry; but A Sanctuary of Trees is a wonderfully woodsy book, neatly wrapped around a personal memoir. Reading it, we watch Logsdon casually learn about sassafras, chain saws, mistletoe, log houses, cordwood, birdsong, and a hundred other bits of vital forest lore. In private life he may be a tree hugger, and this narrative is seductive enough so that any thoughtful reader will probably develop similar symptoms."--Ronald Jager, author of Eighty Acres, Last House on the Road, and The Fate of Family Farming

About The Author

About Gene Logsdon

Over the course of his long life and career as a writer, farmer, and journalist, Gene Logsdon published more than two dozen books, both practical and philosophical, on all aspects of rural life and affairs. His nonfiction works include Gene Everlasting, A Sanctuary of Trees, and Living at Nature’s Pace. He wrote a popular blog, The Contrary Farmer, as well as an award-winning column for the Carey, Ohio, Progressor Times. Gene was also a contributor to Farming Magazine and The Draft Horse Journal. He lived and farmed in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where he died in 2016, a few weeks after finishing his final book, Letter to a Young Farmer.

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Books By Gene Logsdon

Pages:248 pages
Book Art:8 pages of color illustrations
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Pub. Date: April 10, 2012
Paperback: 9781603584012

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 248 pages, $19.95

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