Eating Dirt

Author Charlotte Gill spent 17 years working as a tree planter before she wrote Eating Dirt.

Charlotte Gill

Eating Dirt is an extended postcard from the cut blocks — a vivid portrayal of one woman's life planting trees, her insights into the forest industry and its environmental implications, and a celebration of the wonder of trees.

Charlotte Gill spent almost 20 years working as a tree planter in the forests of Canada. During her million-tree career, she encountered hundreds of clear-cuts, each one a collision site between human civilization and the natural world. Charged with sowing the new forest in these clear-cuts, tree planters are a tribe caught between the stumps and the virgin timber, between environmentalists and loggers. (From Greystone Books)

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From the book

We fall out of bed and into our rags, still crusted with the grime of yesterday. We're earth stained on our thighs and shoulders, and muddy bands circle our waists, like grunge rings on the sides of a bathtub. Permadirt, we call it. Disposable clothes, too dirty for the laundry.

The sun comes up with the strength of a dingy light bulb, dousing the landscape in shades of gray. The clouds are bruised and swollen. We stand in a gravel lot, a clearing hacked from the forest. Heavy logging machinery sits dormant all around, skidders and yarders like hulking metallic crabs. The weather sets in as it always does, as soon as we venture outdoors. Our raincoats are glossy with it. The air hisses. Already we feel the drips down the backs of our necks, the dribbles down the thighs of our pants. We're professional tree planters. It's February, and our wheels have barely begun to grind.

From Eating Dirt by Charlotte Gray ©2011. Published by Greystone Books.

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