My kind of novel
Ash Davidson’s book “Damnation spring” is my kind of novel. It’s set in the 1970s in Redwoods country, specifically in northern California’s Del Norte county. It’s a 15 hour listen in audio format and it works better than a physical book because the narration uses four different voices.
It’s my kind of novel because it’s set in the woods, we meet loggers making a living from the woods, and there are hippie protestors. Also mentioned are greedy forestry companies and herbicide sprays used to keep competing deciduous trees and shrubs from growing.
Of course, when the chemicals wash down into people’s drinking water, there are problems. Animals suffer, and women, too, through miscarriages and babies born with birth defects.
This creates tension between the protagonists, a married couple with one child. The husband is a tree-topper with a dream of owning his own tree operation; the wife wants more kids.
Then, one day, a local resident returns to Del Norte county armed with a Ph.D. and lots of data on drinking water quality. Of course, this was the 1970s and not as much was known about chemicals. Today we know better.
Now it’s 2022, and Dr. Suzanne Simard argues that free-to-grow regulations are bad because they prioritize timber production over ecosystems. Companies are required to keep out non-coniferous species such as aspen and birch with herbicides. This mindset has to go, says Simard, in today’s Vancouver Sun newspaper (January 29, 2022, section A13).
What we need is a healthy mix of species because this is what gives the forests resilience.
Simard also argues that clear-cuts should be off the books going forward. No more than 25% of a watershed should be removed.
In the book the tension between protestors and the forestry company gets resolved; and our married couple also make up. I can’t give you the ending, obviously. Go get the book and enjoy it like I did. I listened to it as I worked in the landscape.