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Embedded In Harvard Forest For One Year, To Study One Tree

Author Lynda Mapes spent a year in the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, chronicling a single tree. This red oak stands in one of the oldest and most intensively studied research landscapes in North America. 

It's what was called a "Witness Tree" in the 18th century -- a tree that's stood tall through forest cutting and caterpillar infestations, and used by surveyors as landmarks. 

Lynda Mapes, on her year embedded with the tree in the Harvard Forest:

"I have spent so many hours napping under this tree. Thinking. Climbing. Photographing. Making notes. Being with my tree. It's a very special tree, and it is a repository of so much time and so many memories and it will persist long after I do. And that's how it is with trees. I think that's why we care so much about them."

On black flies:

"I come from [the] Northwest, which is a very benign place -- nothing is after you. So New England -- to me -- these bugs are the tigers of the Serengeti. It is unbelievable!"

On the smell of damp bark:

"And that beautiful, fructifying, soilicious smell -- I mean, it's just penetrating and dimensional and it took me right back to my childhood."

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
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