Editor’s Note: It’s a good time to read – we’ve a deep need to feel connected, need something to do when everything’s closed, or perhaps just require distraction from anxiety and fear. So we’re asking Mainers to tell us, in their own words, what they’re reading and why. This week we bring you ERIC G. ZUELOW, Chair the Department of History and Philosophy at the University of New England.

Cover courtesy of Amazon

“Earlier this year, the University of New England awarded me a grant to develop several environmental history courses. Great timing! I have a bedside table filled with fantastic things to read.

“Tom Wessel’s ‘Reading the Forested Landscape’ stands out. It’s accessible and entertaining. Each section begins with a drawing of a New England landscape and the chapters teach us how to identify what these spaces tell us: whether it was burned, subject to blights, logged and so on, as well as when these things happened. The idea of reading a landscape is exciting. An old farmer’s wall is no longer just a picturesque row of stones; it tells a story about a few decades during the early 19th century. When Napoleon defeated the Portuguese, who held the world monopoly on merino wool, he created a global “sheep fever.” Starting in 1810, farmers raced to capitalize by raising sheep. They built the walls to control their flocks and inspectors traveled around making sure that the carefully constructed rows of stone met certain legal criteria. It didn’t last long, two or three decades. They over-grazed. A lot of the exposed rock that we know so well is the result. The soil blew away. This book transforms the way one experiences the woods.”

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