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Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

01:19 PM May 27, 2023 IST | palaktripathi
book review  braiding sweetgrass by robin wall kimmerer

“I like to imagine that when Skywoman scattered her handful of seeds across Turtle Island, she was sowing sustenance for the body and also for the mind, emotion, and spirit: she was leaving us, teachers. The plants can tell us her story; we need to learn to listen”

Author Kimerer in Braiding Sweetgrass.


This line encapsulates what this book is trying to put out to the world. Sweetgrass "was the very first to bloom on the planet", according to Anishinaabe tradition, and serves as a permanent reminder of the creator known as Skywoman. It plays a sacred role and is a crucial part of what the author refers to as "global ecosystems,". This raises the hope that humans and the natural world might interact in a healthy way despite all the evidence to the contrary of our destructive influences.


As the reader wends their way through Braiding Sweetgrass, they will be introduced to the concept of Earth as a gift, meet three sisters, and learn about honourable harvesting. Furthermore, to the thanksgiving culture that needs to be incorporated into the daily life of humans as inhabitants of earth. This book was an absolute delight to read as every essay was a meditation on plants, wildlife, indigenous teachings, and our relationship to the earth.


Anthoxanthum hirtum - sweetgrass
Anthoxanthum hirtum - sweetgrass | Photo: Flickr


I recommend Braiding Sweetgrass to anyone who enjoys a good story- Kimmerer’s narrative is approachable, potent, and funny. And, she is simply a great storyteller. It evokes the emotion of reciprocity, for nature, the land, and the people. It echoes the very human construct of gift-giving and responsibility that is especially needed when dealing with the environment. This book also very well constructs a hopeful idea as to what the future holds for the earth and humanity if we start treating the planet gratefully.


Braiding Sweetgrass reminds me even if we feel hopeless or isolated from a very consumerist world, then we need to remind ourselves of the gift we have every day. As she beautifully captures in the book,


“The earth, that first among good mothers, gives us the gift that we cannot provide ourselves. I hadn’t realized that I had come to the lake and said feed me, but my empty heart was fed. I had a good mother. She gives what we need without being asked. I wonder if she gets tired, old Mother Earth. Or if she too is fed by the giving. ‘Thanks,’ I whispered, ‘for all of this.’”

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