Drawing Botany Home
A Rooted Life
About the Book
A beautifully illustrated natural history memoir that reminds the reader that re-storying our relationship with the plants of home can be our first step in restoring the world.
In a world made precarious by human mobility, all of us can learn from those who root in place. Plants surround us, yet all too often we ignore their quiet and complex lives. When a new job brings botanist and artist Lyn Baldwin back to her childhood home in southern British Columbia, she is challenged to confront both the cost of her mobility and the assumptions of her profession. If nearly three decades spent in motion gave Lyn scientific credentials and a career, it also made her a stranger to home and country. Lonely and homesick, Lyn runs outside. She doesn’t go far—rarely more than a day’s drive from Kamloops, BC—but within the pages of her field journal, the slow confluence of art and science allows Lyn to learn not just about but from the green wisdom of her neighbours.
Tutored by the plants of forest and garden, wilderness and wetland, Lyn realizes that her botany never has been, and never will be, a placeless science. Instead, Drawing Botany Home gives Lyn the metaphors to reconcile the dark horror of settler/Indigenous relations and the hard edges of her own childhood: poverty, a traumatic fire, unwanted stepfathers, a hippie mother.
“Drawing Botany Home is a beautiful account of a life’s accumulations, its narratives of paths and plants and family relationships. Lyn Baldwin pays careful attention to place and what it holds, in terms of both biota and memory, and from these sources she guides the reader through richly textured landscapes. Her writing is lyrical, her love of the intimate durability of the natural world infectious, and the pages from her field journals reproduced throughout the book reveal a perceptive and generous eye.” —Theresa Kishkan, author of Blue Portugal and Other Essays, The Weight of the Heart, Euclid’s Orchard, Winter Wren and numerous others
“In poetic prose and exquisite paintings, Drawing Botany Home is a daringly original integration of botany and memoir. It is a story of Place: the place where rooted plants grow and the place we call home, altered by the often chaotic path of our lives, the brutal history of human conquest and the Earth-altering trajectory of the Anthropocene.” —Jon Turk, author of The Raven’s Gift, Crocodiles and Ice, In the Wake of the Jomon and Tracking Lions, Myth, and Wilderness in Samburu
“Baldwin weaves botany into a very personal, and often traumatic, memoir. Her field notes and illustrations join these very disparate threads into a compelling read. This is grounded writing, in the broadest sense of the term.” —Don Gayton, author of The Sky and the Patio, Man Facing West, The Wheatgrass Mechanism, Okanagan Odyssey and Landscapes of the Interior among other titles