Under Mount Auburn’s Tree Canopy with Lynda V. Mapes

June 26, 2017

To visit Mount Auburn Cemetery was a very special opportunity. This is a place my husband and I returned to time and again while I was a Knight Fellow in Science Journalism at MIT, living just down the road on Memorial Drive, and wanting some peace and quiet. We would come up on late summer and autumn evenings, while the crickets were still singing their mesmerizing incantations and enjoy the long, slanting afternoon light.

I remember in particular one evening at the end of August, just before closing, the transfixing beauty of a full moon rising over this repository of community memory, the trees hold memory too, as does the land.

Mount Auburn is that rare thing: an island of peace, where contemplation holds sway, and trees, as well as memory, are allowed to grow rich and full over time.

Mount Auburn’s President Dave Barnett and Lynda V. Mapes share a love of trees.

To walk this place and talk about the beauty and wonder of trees and their gift to our world made a deep, centering kind of sense to me, and so I was so pleased to have a chance to visit with donors and friends of Mount Auburn in May, to celebrate the launch of my book, Witness Tree, and visit some of the more remarkable trees on the grounds together — though it is of course hard to choose.

Trees give us peace, solace, beauty, as does Mount Auburn. My book talks about the effects of climate change visible in a single, 100 year old oak tree I studied at the Harvard Forest. But it also speaks of humanity’s essential bond with the land, with nature, and with trees that hold our memory, our cultural attachments to place, and hope for of a future beyond our own lifetime.

Thank you Mount Auburn Cemetery for all you do for the community, today and always.

Lynda V. Mapes

Author, Witness Tree, Seasons of Change in a Century Old Oak

Environmental Reporter, The Seattle Times

Associate, the Harvard Forest


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