Paper pub. date
November 2021
ISBN 9780870711466 (paperback)
ISBN 9780870711473 (ebook)
5.5 x 8.5, 144 pages. 28 b&w images.

The Ground at My Feet

Sustaining a Family and a Forest

Ann Stinson

Oregon Book Award Finalist

Ann Stinson grew up on her family’s tree farm in southwestern Washington state, on a ridge above the Cowlitz River. After building a life in New York and Portland, she returned home at the age of fifty, when her brother’s death from cancer left her manager and co-owner of three hundred acres planted in Douglas fir, western red cedar, and ponderosa pine.

The Ground at My Feet is a memoir about loss and grief as well as a portrait of a family, a region, and an industry. Combining personal story and research, Stinson weaves essays, poems, history, and science into a rich and layered account of life in a family forest in the Pacific Northwest. She maps interactions between the land and its people over two centuries: the Cowlitz peoples, homesteaders, and several generations of logging families who have worked the property. She follows her family’s logs as they become lumber for fence boards and suburban homes, touring a local cedar mill and traveling with her father to visit mills in Japan.

Stinson adds a landowner’s voice to conversations about the human tendency to demand more of the land than it can sustain. With its uniquely personal view of the Pacific Northwest’s timber and forestry heritage, The Ground at My Feet is an engaging addition to the literature of the landscape and ecology of the West.

About the author

Ann Stinson grew up near Toledo, Washington. After high school, her interests took her to Japan, New York City, and Portland, Oregon.  She earned a BA in English from Western Washington University and a MA in East Asian Languages and Culture from Columbia University. A former school teacher, she is president of the Family Forest Foundation and is on the board of the Washington Farm Forestry Association.

Read more about this author

“Ann Stinson veers away, like a wild saw-whet owl, from the narcissistic conventions of contemporary memoir to give us a book that is brilliantly capacious in spirit and form. Deeply personal, attuned to the big issues, and yet lastingly artful, The Ground at My Feet is an emotionally resonant family portrait and also a deliciously complex journey through time, strata, and culture. A nature book for the jaded urbanite, a grief report for the saccharine-allergic, and an account of transformational forest stewardship imbued with reverence and realism, this is not only a fine addition to Northwest literature, but a profound reading pleasure no matter where you are rooted.”

—M. Allen Cunningham, author of Q&A, Perpetua’s Kin, and The Green Age of Asher Witherow

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