Honey Dew Review | APRIL 2023 | Gathering Moss

Honey Dew Review | APRIL 2023 | Gathering Moss

Picture of the book Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer
After a two month break, the Honey Dew review is back, baby. This month we reviewed Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer. While, something of a divergence from the usual subject matter chosen by The HD Review, we decided to go there anyway, having cherished Braiding Sweetgrass (another work from Kimmerer) and fallen in love with Kimmerer's unique way of loving the world. 

Gathering Moss focuses on the small, yet mighty world of mosses. Moss, it turns out, is the amphibian of the plant world, suspended in evolution between a tertiary existence and a reliance on water to reproduce. There are hundreds of kinds of mosses and all of them have lessons to impart. All facets of nature have something to teach us, even the most miniscule. Moss is no exception and Kimmerer works to nourish our understanding of its unique world through her writing.

While her book includes more than a lay person's digestible dose of scientific names and terminology, Kimmerer explains the importance of knowing the language of nature, of having words and names so that we notice. Running our hands over a mossy boulder when the moss is nameless is a world of sensation upon our fingertips, yet we lose our connection the moment we turn away. Orthotrichum lyellii, on the other hand, the wonder moss growing in cities and helping to purify the air, might have a mouthful of a name but knowing its name gives it the respect it deserves. A name bestows the plant with meaning, so that we remember and search it out on the sides of trees and beneath our toes. Orthotrichum lyellii even has it's own news articles and scientific studies. A mighty little moss indeed. 

Mosses can be desiccated by lack of water, losing up to 98% of their moisture and still be reanimated when rain returns. Mosses, like water bears, can remain suspended between life and death for years with no active metabolism or any other indication of life and still be revived by water. Some mosses can even influence their reproductive expression and move from cloning to asexual and bisexual reproduction and back again. 

We could ramble on for hours now about all the fascinating things we learned about mosses, except Kimmerer is a teacher at heart and learning from her is a powerful experience we do not want to rob you of. Moss facts in context, told by Kimmerer, are a much more potent experience than facts blurted out in our blog. Kimmerer tells the story of nature calmly, with love in her words, and draws those of us who feel disconnected from earth a path with which to follow back to connection, back to our knowing and our stewardship. There are lessons in the dirt, whispered among the trees, spread through the world on moss spores. Kimmerer endeavors to translate those lessons so we may learn them too. 

Kimmerer's mind is an interwoven tapestry where the scientist merges with the poet. Her writing is something we can only describe as densely nutritious, like a well flavored meal that melds to your bones. While deeply educational and, at times, littered with academic jargon, Kimmerer still walks the line of beautiful artistic creation, throwing in just enough flourishing prose to keep our lips upturned or our eyes misted. Her writing is powerful and while scientific in nature, it is steeped in color, love, and natures organic influence. 

We give Gathering Moss 4.6 out of 5 stars, with the caveat that this is a dense read.
Our rating system is as follows:

⭐️ Not a book we recommend 
⭐️⭐️ Decent story/some good content, but lacking substance or writing skill 
⭐️⭐️⭐️ Well done; good quality writing or research, a worthwhile read
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Extremely well done; well written with excellent story/content
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Breakthrough work that stands out from the crowd, resulting in personal growth by the reader 

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