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Bullard Spotlight: Lynda Mapes and the 100-Year-Old Oak

November 14, 2014
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Lynda Mapes at Harvard Forest

During her 12-month Bullard Fellowship at the Harvard Forest, veteran newspaper journalist and author Lynda Mapes is taking a deep, long look at one tree: a 100-year-old red oak. With the help of Harvard Forest collaborators John O’Keefe, Andrew Richardson, David Foster, and other experts, Lynda is probing the human and natural history of "BT QURU 03," a tagged, tracked red oak in a long-term phenology study at the Forest. Her goal is to learn what one tree can tell us about our changing world, and our relationship to nature. The result will be her forthcoming book, Witness Tree, under contract with Bloomsbury Publishing.

Lynda chose Harvard Forest because she wanted to research and write the book through a deep immersion experience. In her own words: “Writers need three things to tell a story well: characters, location, and a narrative, and with the forest’s unique long-term historic records and scientific data; beautiful setting, and crack collaborators – including one spectacular tree -- I have all three. Living in my research site, a short walk from my tree, on the historic John Sanderson Farm couldn’t be a better way to tell this story of a changing natural world, and our relationship to it.”

(Photo by Doug MacDonald.)

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