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The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman, and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods by Julia Butterfly Hill

2000; 256 pp. $25. HarperSanFrancisco

Quite possibly one of the greatest love affairs of our time. A 23-year-old preacher's daughter from Arkansas climbed 180 feet into a thousand-year-old redwood tree named Luna in Humboldt County, California, and vowed not to leave until Luna was guaranteed permanent protection from Pacific Lumber/Maxxam Corporation's clearcutting. Julia Butterfly Hill stuck to her vow and lived on a small platform for more than two years, bringing international attention to the destruction of the redwoods and sacralizing the union between one woman and a tree. Here, the eco-heroine tells her love story?surviving smoke from burning napalm, verbal abuse by loggers, a ten-day siege by company security, helicopter attacks, monsoons, frostbite, loneliness. It's poignant, sad, invigorating. Luna and a buffer zone were "saved" for 50,000 bucks (a year later some psycho cut halfway through the tree with a chainsaw). Butterfly's astounding spirit is as resilient as the tree. (If you want to order a tape of one of her best tearjerkers?a speech given at the last Bioneers conference, call 800/647-1110).

" I knew that if I continued to debate politics and science?and stayed in the mind instead of the heart and the spirit, it would always be about one side versus the other. We all understand love, however; we all understand respect, we all understand dignity, and we all understand compassion up to a certain point. But how could I convince the loggers to transfer those feelings that they might have for a human being to the forest? And how could I get them to let go of their stereotypes of me? Because in their mind, I was a treehugging, granola eating, dirty, dreadlocked hippie environmentalist. They always managed to say this word with such disgust and disdain!

" A year and a half in a tree! I found it difficult to believe I was still there. And yet I had lived in Luna so long I could hardly imagine living anywhere else. The tree had become part of me, or I her. I had grown a thick new muscle on the outer sides of my feet from gripping as I climbed and wrapping them around branches. My hands had also become a lot more muscular; their cracks from the weathering of my skin reminded me of Luna's swirling patterns. My fingers were stained brown from the bark and green from the lichen. Bits of Luna had been ground underneath my fingernails, while sap, with its embedded bits of bark and duff, speckled my arms and hands and feet. People even said that I smelled sweet, like a redwood."


ISBN: 0062516590

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