The first time my Dad saw my adult home, he muttered, “I don’t know why you and your sister moved back into the woods.” Although I hadn’t realized before, I instantly knew what he meant. Although we grew up on the plains, both my sister and I chose homes in densly forested areas. I can’t speak for my sister, but I must say that I do love living surrounded by trees.
The Forest Primeval
Then again, I’m not Sayward Luckett. Sayward is the central voice of Conrad Richter’s novel, The Trees, and she has good reason to hate the forest. It’s the late 1700’s and her father’s transplanted their family from a village in Pennsylvania to the endless woods of the Ohio Valley. The tree trunks (or Butts, as
Still, Sayward is the sympathetic, tough, resilient person needed to make a home from the wilderness. She tells her story in a matter-of-factly in the settler’s dialect and rhythms that author, Conrad Richter discovered researching this novel. Her common-sense voice leaps off the page.
“Whether you liked it or not, Death was something you had to go through life with.
Plentytimes you would meet up with it if you lived long enough, and you might as well get used to it as you could.”– The Trees, Conrad Richter
Everything happens to Sayward and her family as they carve a life out of the forest. Good and Bad both come their way, joyful moments and terrible loss. And her family’s story parallels the story of America’s development. Sayward and some settlers who live long enough even learn to appreciate the world they’ve known and seen.
Even a world filled with trees.