by Judy Wyper

Braiding Sweetgrass

Robin Wall Kimmerer

Reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s books is always delightful for me. She brings a sense of serenity and relaxation to her topics, and if you have the privilege of the audio version of Braiding Sweetgrass, published in 2013, you may find that her voice will mesmerize you. The book is a treasure of scientific knowledge and Indigenous teachings.  She weaves stories into her accounts of how the world of living things functions, bringing understanding and compassion along the way.

There are stories of Turtle Island, Nanabozho, and Windigo.  In the preface, Kimmerer says she offers “a braid of stories meant to heal our relationship with the world.” She describes some of her rituals when gathering berries and grasses. There are explanations of why sweetgrass is considered sacred, and descriptions of “the honorable harvest” of never taking too much from one area, gathering from the middle of the group.  Since it is considered sacred, it is not sold for profit, and tobacco is always left behind. There is a section on basket weaving and its joys and pitfalls.  Market economies are discussed along with gift culture, maple syrup time and growing your own food.  Resilience.  So many topics!

Once read, this is a book you could pick up in the evening and open at any spot to enjoy and remember and meditate with.