In this hour, biologist and professor at the University of the South, David George Haskell set himself an unusual task for one year: to examine a one-square-meter patch of biologically diverse old-growth Tennessee forest nearly every day and record his observations. He writes about his experiment in contemplative science in a book of essays: The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature. Biologist E.O. Wilson says the book represents "a new genre of nature writing, located between science and poetry."
Next, what does it mean to be an ecological steward of your own land? Stephen Long and his wife live on 95 wooded acres in Central Vermont. He is also the founder of Northern Woodlands Magazine and the author of More Than a Woodlot. He takes us for a walk in his woods, revealing how much there is to notice, and to care for.
Then, noted nature writer Terry Tempest Williams is one of this country's most ardent advocates for the preservation of wild places. She also knows from first-hand experience that wild woods can be dangerous, if visited with the wrong person. In her new book of essays, When Women Were Birds, she tells the story of the day she narrowly escaped a brutal attack, while hiking in Idaho's Sawtooth Wilderness.
After that, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Red Riding Hood... fairy tales are full of stories that take place in enchanted forests. And sacred woods and trees figure strongly in mythic traditions, from the British Isles to the Norselands to ancient Sumeria. Marina Warner writes about art, symbolism, myth and fairy tales. She explores the many meanings of forests in the human imagination.
Finally, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's landmark musical, Into the Woods celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Sondheim looks back over its history and we hear musical selections. [Broadcast Date: May 2, 2012]