Living at the limits of our ordinary perception, mosses are a common but largely unnoticed element of the natural world. Gathering moss is a mix of science and personal reflection that invites readers to explore and learn from the elegantly simple lives of mosses. In this series of linked personal essays, Robin Kimmerer leads general readers and scientists alike to an understanding of how mosses live and how their lives are intertwined with the lives of countless other beings. Kimmerer explains the biology of mosses clearly and artfully, while at the same time reflecting on what these fascinating organisms have to teach us. Drawing on her experiences as a scientist, a mother, and a Native American, Kimmerer explains the stories of mosses in scientific terms as well as in the framework of indigenous ways of knowing. In her book, the natural history and cultural relationships of mosses become a powerful metaphor for ways of living in the world.
Here in Northern California, despite a very wet spring, we are entering the dry season, so the local mosses have already become quite desiccated; but a close examination of heretofore unnoticed moss lining the cracks in my patio reveals a thicket of delicate brownish- pink sporophytes waving above the crinkly mat of dried moss. Robin Wall Kimmerer has shown me how to pay attention to every inhabited surface in my surroundings.
By Robin Wall Kimmerer
In indigenous ways of knowing, we say that a thing cannot be understood until it is known by all four aspects of our being: mind, body, emotion, and spirit. The scientific way of
""A Cheyenne elder of my acquaintance once told me that the best way to find something is not to go looking for it...watch out of the corner of your eye, open to possibility, and what you seek will be revealed. p.9
Read of the Water Drum of the Anishinabe people and see its counterpart in nature as a Sphagnum bog. p 111