Walking into the Curlis Lake Woods across the street from her home in Pennington, Andrea Fereshteh never expected to write a book about her beloved forest walks. But as she wandered through the wooded trails of Hopewell Valley as a stay at home mother of three young children, she experienced such profound inspiration that she was inspired to write about trees and nature.
“I would be walking on these trails, behind Kunkel Park, in Curlis Woods, at Rosedale, and feel such overwhelming awe, I couldn’t keep it to myself,” Fereshteh said. “I thought: Why isn’t everyone out here experiencing this? There is such beauty and peace in these woods – right here outside our front doors.”
Around the time Fereshteh was taking her wooded walks, she began seeing articles appear in her social media feeds about the practice of shinrin-yoku, a Japanese term for forest bathing, or taking in the forest atmosphere. After learning that the California-based Association for Nature and Forest Therapy had a blog and was accepting submissions about readers’ forest bathing experiences, Fereshteh decided to write about her own walks in the woods.
“Writing has always been how I’ve made sense of my experiences,” said Fereshteh, who is originally from Asheville, North Carolina. “I’ve kept a journal since I was in third grade, pursued a journalism degree in college and have been a writer for higher education and nonprofits throughout my career.”
Her blog post was published in December 2017 and, two months later, she logged into her Twitter account to see a direct message from a book editor asking if she would be interested in writing a book about trees.
“I didn’t believe it was a real proposition at first,” Fereshteh said. “Once we talked through the concept, I had to pinch myself. Exploring the cultural traditions of honoring the wisdom of trees through sacred practices was a fascinating topic for me. And it was an amazing way to share some of what I experienced in nature through the medium of writing.”
Her new book, In the Company of Trees: Honoring the Sacred Power, Beauty and Wisdom of Trees, was published this week by Simon & Schuster.
Comprised of more than 200 quotes, facts, and stories honoring trees from around the world, the book features full-color photos of sun-dappled forests and tree-filled hikes celebrating nature and the magnificent life of trees and their invaluable place in our lives.
“I loved learning and writing about how people throughout time and around the globe have also felt this deep wisdom among trees, and developed different traditions and practices to honor and venerate trees,” Fereshteh said. “Given this critical moment in our environmental history, it is more important than ever to reconnect with nature and remember how deeply interrelated we are with ecosystems that surround us.”
Fereshteh will be talking more about the book and signing copies at two upcoming events in the local community.
“Thanks to many of our local conservation groups, we are so lucky in this area to have access to amazing natural spaces and preserves,” she said. “I hope this book inspires others to go outside and experience the magic and beauty of nature, and perhaps take individual steps to preserve it for future generations.”
Editor’s Note: Congratulations to Andrea Feresheteh, a former MercerMe reporter! And thank you for submitting this press piece.