The books in this flight are about the flora and fauna around and above us, in the air we breathe, underwater, and even inside us. The flight is dedicated to those still fighting or displaced by the Alberta wildfires. Reading any of these books is to realize plants, fish, birds, and other life on Earth could easily thrive without us, yet there is no way we could exist without them. In the spirit of reciprocity running through each book, something we can do is assist the efforts to put out the wildfires currently transforming Alberta's boreal forests beyond all imagining.
I asked Hope Jahren, author of Lab Girl, who knows a thing or two about trees, her thoughts on Alberta's blazing forests, and she wrote the following:
When I read about the fires in Alberta, I know that I should picture the inferno itself, more lethal and magnificent than anything Dante ever dreamed – no angels or devils within, no robed guide leading an awakening novice, no pausing to mark the pathos of each hapless sinner – just a raging wall of white-hot fire obliterating complex life into simple fuel. I have heard people posit that conifer forests like fire, and that they need it, citing cones that relax open only after sealing resin melts, whereupon they drop seeds into the charred open – a blank slate primed for new growth.
But instead, I think about my ankle: the one I broke three years ago that will never be the same. My treatment was long and slow, and had been developed from trial and error; there was a plan to get me on my feet again, and we followed it and it worked. But it doesn’t mean that I liked having my ankle broken, and I certainly didn’t need it. Injury is never less than injury, even when all ends well. And fire is never less than fire. And the forests of Alberta will never be the same.
During the Minnesota summer, the sun doesn’t set until ten. This year we are seeing the most beautiful skies to the north, a rich red-orange light that washes up from the horizon and across the heavens. We know these sunsets mean that Canada is still burning, but we are entranced despite ourselves. We stare out each evening, spellbound, and watch Alberta’s forests bleed into the sky.
– Hope Jahren, author of Lab Girl