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Ann Stinson's memoir portrays a dynamic look at family history and local forest ecology.

Lake Oswego residents will have the opportunity to chat with Pacific Northwest author Ann Stinson July 21 during a book reading and signing at the Lake Oswego Public Library's Booktique.

Stinson's memoir "The Ground at My Feet" came out last year.

Partially inspired by the death of her brother, the book encompasses stories in multiple formats, focusing on the Stinson's family tree farm in southwest Washington, the history of the forest land and the journeys of the trees themselves after harvest.Stinson

"Stinson weaves essays, poems, history, and science into a rich and layered account of life in a family in the Pacific Northwest forest," the library wrote of Stinson's book.

According to Stinson, the book begins with the harvesting of 12 acres of trees on her family's land along the Cowlitz River in southwest Washington and ends with the planting of those same 12 acres.

"In between there are lots of memories of my brother," Stinson said.

The portions of the book focusing on the history of the land detail the lives of those who lived there before Stinson's family, including a girl from a Cowlitz tribe who was married to the first white person to travel up the Cowlitz River, and a Civil War veteran who later owned the land with his family.

Stinson began working on the writings that would eventually become "The Ground At My Feet" the year her brother was diagnosed with cancer. That year, she accompanied her mother to a creative arts camp.

Stinson took a literary class at the camp and ended up writing about her brother.

"I didn't intend to write a book, but some of those writings that I did during that camp are in the book," Stinson said.

It wasn't until she took more writing classes and met another writer that she considered the possibility of publishing a book. Encouragement from the other author, Mark Cunningham, prompted her to research her family's farm land.

Two years after she decided she had the makings of a book, Stinson sent out the manuscript.

Stinson said she is not disciplined about her writing, but likes to sit in the woods and let the prose come to her. She took her notebook to the mills to talk to the workers who processed her family's wood, and to the forest to talk to the loggers and tree planters.

"They were very indulgent of my question-asking," she said.

Notebook in hand, she asked the loggers and seed planters about their work, what got them into it and how they honed their craft.

One of the loggers was a poet and Stinson included one of his poems in the book.

Stinson said she hopes her book gives people a better understanding of the dynamics of family foresting, logging and planting.

Stinson will be at the Booktique for the reading at 5 p.m. July 21.


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