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Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses (2003)

by Robin Wall Kimmerer

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5991434,097 (4.25)39
Living at the limits of our ordinary perception, mosses are a common but largely unnoticed element of the natural world. Gathering moss is a mix of science and personal reflection that invites readers to explore and learn from the elegantly simple lives of mosses. In this series of linked personal essays, Robin Kimmerer leads general readers and scientists alike to an understanding of how mosses live and how their lives are intertwined with the lives of countless other beings. Kimmerer explains the biology of mosses clearly and artfully, while at the same time reflecting on what these fascinating organisms have to teach us. Drawing on her experiences as a scientist, a mother, and a Native American, Kimmerer explains the stories of mosses in scientific terms as well as in the framework of indigenous ways of knowing. In her book, the natural history and cultural relationships of mosses become a powerful metaphor for ways of living in the world.… (more)
  1. 00
    Teaching the Trees: Lessons from the Forest by Joan Maloof (juniperSun)
    juniperSun: both by aware, literate, scientists & professors combining personal experiences with nature study.
  2. 00
    Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake (Ciruelo)
  3. 00
    The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (aprille)
    aprille: I'd lay dollars to donuts this book was a source for a couple of the scenes in the book. Robin Wall Kimmerer is thanked in the acknowledgments.
  4. 00
    Wintering by Diana Kappel-Smith (juniperSun)
    juniperSun: both show women engaged in natural science, written in a very personal style, through their activities.
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» See also 39 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
This book teaches your heart and mind about the lives of mosses. So many beautiful passages that spoke to my scientific and poetic sensibilities. I hope I can find ways to weave her writings into my ecology course this semester and beyond. ( )
  UnruhlyS | Oct 26, 2022 |
Every bit as good as everyone says. Weaves the Western scientific knowledge of mosses with the Indigenous ways of knowing into a rich tapestry. A lovely balance of new facts to digest and an enjoyable narrative to frame them for easy consumption. I enjoyed following along on the field experiments and the trial-and-error approaches to learning more about these species. Some moments were funny (Splachnum, the moss found only in bogs, on white-tailed deer droppings, which have lain on the peat for four weeks, in July), some were infuriating (the Owner!), and others transcendant. ( )
  zeborah | Sep 16, 2022 |
Drawing on her diverse experiences as a scientist, mother, teacher, and writer of Native American heritage, Kimmerer explains the stories of mosses in scientific terms as well as in the framework of Indigenous ways of knowing. In her deft hands, the natural history and cultural relationships of mosses become a powerful metaphor for ways of living in the world.
By Robin Wall Kimmerer
  GLC-Library | Feb 12, 2022 |
If I hadn’t already read Braiding Sweetgrass, I would have never thought that a book on mosses would be so engaging. They’re like triple unpopular, cuz people already don’t care that much about nature, and then plant people are a minority because zoology is more charismatic, and then mosses (bryophytology??) have way less fans than trees or grasses or stuff you can eat. So even though I’m a hardcore plant person, mosses are definitely a gap for me! But as I always say, it’s good to read about stuff you don’t know because if you only read things you’re familiar with there’s no point except for confirmation bias!

Anyway, I think that Robin Wall Kimmerer has a definite formula figured out. Gathering Moss, like Braiding Sweetgrass, is just a bunch of thematically-linked essays. Each one starts with a specific ecological case study and then is elegantly linked to some philosophical lesson. And it always surprises me! This book was a lot shorter than Braiding Sweetgrass but covered a lot of the same ground… stuff about the Tragedy of the Commons, or how to pay attention in nature, or the tensions between science and tradition. I want to highlight one of the last essays in the book (as with Braiding Sweetgrass this was sort of weird to read all in one go, and the order the essays were in was questionable, so I definitely think I will revisit them all as standalone pieces. But this one definitely should have been the closer because of how it just left me agape). “The Owner” is one of the saddest “short stories” I’ve ever read, and it’s not even fictional, but a biographical essay. That being said, it hit all the beats of a well written story with what can only be described as a heart-wrenching “plot twist” which I won’t spoil. Even if you don’t read the rest of this book, I would 100% recommend seeking it out for “The Owner” alone. ( )
  jooniper | Sep 10, 2021 |
I wish I knew what I could say to convince everyone I know to read Robin Wall Kimmerer. This book about moss is so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes several times. She writes in such a uniquely beautiful way that is thought provoking and deeply informative and poetic all at once.

Cannot stress enough... read this woman's books. ( )
1 vote audsreads | Jul 19, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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Preface: Seeing the world through Moss-colored Glasses
My first conscious memory of "science" (or was it religion?) comes from my kindergarten class, which met in the old Grange Hall. We all ran to press our noses to the frosty windows when the first intoxicating flakes of snow began to fall. Miss Hopkins was too wise a teacher to try and hold back the excitement of five-year olds on the occasion of the first snow, and out we went. In boots and mittens, we gathered around her in the soft swirl of white. From the deep pocket of her coat she took a magnifying glass.
Barefoot, I've walked this path by night for nearly twenty years, most of my life it seems, the earth pressing up against the arch of my foot. More often than not, I leave my flashlight behind, to let the path carry me home through the Adriondack darkness. My feet touching the ground are like fingers on the piano, playing from memory an old sweet song, of pine needles and sand.
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Living at the limits of our ordinary perception, mosses are a common but largely unnoticed element of the natural world. Gathering moss is a mix of science and personal reflection that invites readers to explore and learn from the elegantly simple lives of mosses. In this series of linked personal essays, Robin Kimmerer leads general readers and scientists alike to an understanding of how mosses live and how their lives are intertwined with the lives of countless other beings. Kimmerer explains the biology of mosses clearly and artfully, while at the same time reflecting on what these fascinating organisms have to teach us. Drawing on her experiences as a scientist, a mother, and a Native American, Kimmerer explains the stories of mosses in scientific terms as well as in the framework of indigenous ways of knowing. In her book, the natural history and cultural relationships of mosses become a powerful metaphor for ways of living in the world.

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