“From Alaska to California, discontinuously, the flexibly tipped western hemlock shares the great upland forests with the Douglas fir, the Sitka spruce (lower down), western red cedar, alpine fir, red fir and white. Massive and bothered by few insects, these conifers preside over a complex web of animal and plant life and some forms in between.” – from The Forest, by Roger Caras
“…I have gone to the woods, and I have wandered there and wondered at what I have seen.” -- from “Afterword,” The Forest, by Roger Caras
Non-fiction, but with a novelistic style, Roger Caras takes readers into The Forest, beginning with the arrival of a golden eagle and ending with its departure a few weeks later. As the golden eagle watches the forest from its western hemlock perch, readers, too, watch life and death in the forest. Caras’ description is of a balanced, intact, ecosystem. Except for a pack of feral dogs, each species that enters the forest belongs there, taking and giving to the habitat. The importance of climate, water, and other factors to the forest’s health are also shared. This is not a “gentle” book. Caras’ forest is realistically described with death ever present, but it is also a forest that thrives because of “the relationship of one species to each of the others.”
With global warming and other threats, The Forest is a reminder of what we lose when forests are destroyed.
“The western hemlock, then, lived and sustained both life and death, each phenomenon but an extension of the other. The living died, and the dead sustained the living, just as the hemlock itself was born of a nurse tree that had fallen to ground. The perfect circle of the forest turned on, as it had for hundreds of millions of years.” – from The Forest, by Roger Caras
“And you should care very much whether there will be any [forest] left intact, fulfilled and complete, a half century from now. The thought that there might not be I would rate a nightmare.” – from The Forest, by Roger Caras