Portrait of a Tree, Climate Change, and a Book Review

Hello everyone,

I hope 2022 is treating you well so far. I’m going to attempt this blog without one mention of the “C” word or the “O” word. Instead, I want to share 3 things—a portrait of a favourite local tree, a short rant on climate change, and a generous review of my book “Deep Song” by Ann Birch. 

Artwork by Laurel Mae Hislop

It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses we must plant more trees.

George Eliot

I’m no scientist, and my reasoning may be flawed, but it seems there’s a simple way to solve our current climate crisis. All we hear about is carbon—carbon emissions, carbon offsetting, carbon taxes, and the carbon footprint. Does this fixation on carbon distract from the actual underlying issue? I understand humans have upset a balance and too much carbon in our atmosphere creates havoc. But isn’t carbon necessary? Plants depend on it. Vegetation takes in carbon and lets out oxygen, and we enjoy a symbiotic relationship with things that grow. This is especially true of the monarchs of plant life—TREES. In my mind, it’s not rocket science: more plants = less carbon in our airspace. So, why not focus ALL of our energy on planting and nurturing trees? And why are we not at war with the large companies clearcutting the Amazon Rain Forest—the lungs of Earth? Should we not call for a ban on the chief crop they harvest—palm oil? If someone can explain the benefits of this unhealthy ingredient, listed on the label of most processed foods and added to livestock feed, please let me know.

I must stop here and take a deep breath, for the sake of brevity and my general mental health… On to something more pleasant. 

Thanks to the folks on this list who’ve rated or reviewed my recent book online. Reviews and ratings are so helpful in getting it out to new readers. If you’d like more information on the novel, don’t stop reading now. Ann Birch, a Toronto author and editor, has written the following sweet synopsis of “Deep Song.”


By Ann Birch, Toronto novelist and editor

In these grim days of lockdown and worry, we turn to books for solace. We want books that are easy to read, that give us characters we can sympathize with, and plots that have endings that satisfy.

Laurel Hislop’s latest novel, Deep Song, is the perfect book for these times. Told in first-person narrative by the main character, a woman named Halca, its plot centres around her search to find her birth parents after years of living with a controlling, unsympathetic adoptive mother and a weak, browbeaten father. Halca needs romance as well. At thirty-three years of age, still a virgin, she wants a man to love and provide her with sexual fulfillment. 

As the plot winds to its conclusion, Halca finds the strength to achieve her goals. As we immerse ourselves in her struggles, we learn as well so much about the people we call gypsies: their culture, their carefree, unstructured lives, and the window of friendship they open to a desperate young woman. One of these gypsies is the musician Leandro who loves Halca and encourages her to sing the deep songs that touch her heart and soul.

Hislop’s prose offers us page after page of enjoyment and insight. Not only is her research into Roma life extensive and engrossing, her deep knowledge of Vancouver offers us wonderful views of landmarks like Stanley Park and lesser spots like the restaurants, pubs, and trailer park that give Halca a freedom she has never before encountered in her empty life with her adoptive parents and her stultifying job in a dress shop.

Deep Song is the book we need for these boring days. Buy a copy, curl up with a favourite beverage, and find pleasant hours of entertainment.  

Ann Birch is the author of: “Settlement,” “The Secret Life of Roberta Greaves,” and “Duelling in a New World.”

“Deep Song: Cante Jondo” is available as an eBook or paperback on Amazon.

Also available on Amazon Canada

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