Published by Harper Perennial of Harper Collins Publishing in New York, “Seeds” by Richard Horan describes one man’s inspired journey to collect seeds from trees that existed during the lifetimes of literary and historical figures of great importance.
Beginning with Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and William Faulkner, Horan describes not only the natural surroundings of the land on which these historic giants once inhabited, but offers personal details of the people as well.
Throughout the course of the book, Horan travels to the childhood home of Muhammad Ali, as well as to visit the trees among which John Muir first began penning his words in defense of the natural world. He hikes around Walden Pond while pondering the work of Henry David Thoreau and contemplates the poetry of Robert Frost while walking among the woods which inspired his poetic lyricism.
In total, Horan travels to over forty locations describing the natural elements in connection with events such as Gettysburg, and people such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Jack Kerouac, Eudora Welty and Hellen Keller. Horan’s arboreal knowledge is both refreshing and inspiring, as are the details he writes concerning the very figures which have inspired his personal journey, as well as his career. The accounts of the often leery, sometimes helpful individuals Horan met whilst rummaging through mulch and undergrowth in search of sugar maple keys, catalpa seedpods and acorns was often rather funny.
The writing style is quite relaxed, making the reader feel as though one is sitting down over tea listening to the author recount his experiences while traveling. The author provides personal details of both himself and his family, which can be rather amusing or distracting depending on whether the reader has experienced similar circumstances.
Horan’s honest and open-booked approach, however, lends itself well to readers with limited knowledge of tree and plant species. At no time does Horan talk down to his reader, rather his excitement and fascination with literature, history and the environment are inviting and inspiring.
Just as Horan describes the scenery at each location, so too does he give you an honest and at times, critical view of the museums and home tours set up at the homes of those figures deemed important enough to have foundations in place to preserve their legacies. Horan often describes his waning interest in the home tours, or the manner in which a historical site has been, in his opinion ill-preserved.
Certainly “Seeds” will inspire many to pick up new or old copies by the authors featured throughout Horan’s work. Whether his readers are inspired enough to plan their own journey, or wish to live vicariously through Horan’s words, his readers will also begin collecting their own seeds of knowledge.
Sarah Aylward received a copy of this book from the publisher, Harper Perennial.