Most books and courses on natural history focus on the identification of one small aspect of the complex world outside our doors. We may know how to identify our neighborhood trees but not know why pine are dominant in one place and maple in another; we may notice fungus growing on a beech trunk but not know the devastating impact of blights on our forests over the centuries. Tom Wessels, who has spent more than twenty years interpreting New England's landscape and teaching others to see "the forest for the trees," argues that by coming to a fuller understanding of our home ground, we achieve a greater sense of place.
An intrepid sleuth and articulate tutor, Wessels teaches us to read a landscape the way we might solve a mystery. Each chapter addresses a form of forest disturbance common in New England--fire, logging, and blight are examples--and depicts it in an extraordinary, full-page etching. Studying Wessels's descriptions of forest scenes in conjunction with Cohen's visual portraits teaches us to identify disturbance patterns and, in turn, to take our discoveries outside and read the history written in the character of the land.