Fiction Naomi M. Stokes The Tree People

ISBN 13: 9780812535105

The Tree People

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9780812535105: The Tree People

Referring to her people's ancient lore and rituals in order to track down a vicious killer, Jordan Tidewater, the first female sheriff of the Salish Reservation, finds a clue in an ancient, cut-down cedar tree.

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Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1
 
The Present
 
 
1 The Olympic Peninsula is one of the wildest, strangest, most fascinating regions in the country; the end of the world, as Native Americans say.
This northwestern extreme of the contiguous United States is a place of magic and mystery, of mists and fogs, drenching ocean-scented rains--at least twelve feet a year--immense snow-clad peaks, rushing rivers, plunging waterfalls, dark forests, dangerous seas, and rugged, unspoiled seashores.
When the sun shines, and even when it doesn't, there is no more wonderful country on earth. Like a somber, handsome woman who, when she smiles, is transformed into a creature of dazzling light and beauty, so this land can break or replenish the human heart.
The peninsula is several worlds in one. Over a mile into the sky floats the mountaintop world of bare rock and ice, of sweeping storms and chilling winds, where the snowy peaks and ridges of the great Olympics crouch and rear in a mysterious blue-white welter.
Below these windswept heights curve and dip mountain ridges and flower meadows where deep, pure lakes gleam like bits of broken mirrors. On the eastern extreme, beyond the stormy Olympics, is a placid world where calm Hood Canal separates the peninsula from the mainland of Washington State. Only thirty miles inland from the outer coast, sixty glaciers creep with painful slowness toward the North Pacific.
Here, at land's end, is yet another world where wild seas strike with unchecked fury across six thousand miles of open ocean, slamming into beaches and basaltic cliffs with a force of two tons per square inch. Whales, sea lions, seals, and other beings live in these thunderous, plankton-rich waters:
Land erodes into the sea even as it rises from it. Many of the islets studding this wild and dramatic coast are resurrecting. Five times in known history the shore has been flooded by the sea, five times raised and drained. The islands of today were islands in the distant past, eroding yet again with a practiced roundness because of the action of prehistoric waves.
This eternal contest between sea and land is most vivid in the tunneled walls of its headlands. At Cape Elizabeth there is a fin of banded sandstone with a tunnel cut by waves through which homesteaders once drove their cattle to the railhead at Moclips.
At Elephant Rock and Point of Arches, the sea has pounded offshore rocks into clustering arches, some of stupendous proportions, others mere needle-eye slits. At Cape Flattery, nine adjoining sea caves hollow one wall of a tight cove, most of them high enough to shelter several two-story buildings.
Ocean caves and tunnels are dank. Fresh water trickles over their faces and in winter freezes into mammoth icicles that fall and shatter with rifle-shot cracks. At flood tide, waves surge against the rocks, relentlessly wearing the tunnels ever larger. At ebb tide, salt water shimmers in still pools and barnacles hiss and bubble as they close their plates to await the return of the sea.
Still a different world exists in the magnificent temperate evergreen rain forests--the Bogachiel, the Hoh, the Queets, the Quinault--where new life springs continually from old, cushioning every square inch. Once, immense conifers grew here, fifty feet and more in circumference, shooting up two hundred feet before the lower branches even began. But now they are mostly memories, fallen to man's hungry saws.
Superabundant rainfall produces these forests. If left alone, trees grow majestically tall, their trunks Gothic and stately, their crowns a canopy beneath which flourish other distinct layers of growth.
Spruce and hemlock seedlings inch up from moldering fallen trees. Colonnades of trees with trunks eight to fifteen feet in diameter survive from infant starts on fallen logs. Some are more than six hundred years old, yet their arched buttresses still hold the shape of the nurse log over which their tiny roots first pressed toward earth.
A thousand species of plants flourish. All shades of green splash between the solid rock and ice of the perpetually snow-clad mountains and the endless shimmer of the sea: the emerald of eelgrass in tidepools, the creme de menthe of vine maple in the rain forests, the black-green of spruce and cedar, the gray-green of lichen.
Everything in the rain forest is green. The air itself is green. Mosses and maple leaves glow as if lit from within. On cloudy days the entire rain forest burns with the soft, pervasive light of a cathedral, offering refreshment for parched souls.
While one should walk through a forest to sense its full beauty, the Quinault is particularly striking even for motorists. Both North and South Shore roads are favorite drives. Cedar, Douglas fir, hemlock, and Sitka spruce tower overhead; club moss and lichen drape the branches of huge maples; sword fern turns the forest floor into breakers of chest-high green. A few dead cedar snags glow like ghosts.
Accessible from the South Shore road, a hiking trail winds through a spectacular grove of ancient trees that reach over three hundred feet into the heavens and are five hundred years old. Trees that still live, are still healthy, because here in this hushed spot they are protected from their greatest predator. Man.
Some think the Quinault rain forest, because of its haunting beauty, should have been Eden. Had it been, they say, mankind never would have fallen. No serpent, regardless of how gorgeous or skilled in the arts of seduction, could have successfully tempted Eve from this paradise.
It is true that a sense of the dawn earth lingers around Lake Quinault, where the air is primordially pure and sweet.
Because of this exceptional purity, the air of Quinault has for decades been used by scientists as the standard of pure air quality for the entire United States.
But recently the air began to change and a different wind to blow, a lovely crystal wind that carried with it madness and death.
 
Copyright 1995 by Naomi M. Stokes

Review:

"A unique tale...A fascinating look at legends and lore." -Booklist

"Take the reader into a green world filled with beauty, mystery and life." -Los Angeles Daily News

"The Olympic Peninsula of Washington State is magnificently evoked....In the haunting prologue, an Indian sachem vanquishes a sorcerer's evil spirit by planting a cedar sapling over the grave where he was buried alive. Centuries later, the tree falls to man's hungry saws, and the Caliban is out of the bag.

Jordan Tidewater, tribal sheriff for the Quinault Nation, looks for a rational explanation for the ill wind of violence that gusts through the ancient rainforest. The owner of the logging company that cut down the sacred cedar is killed in an accident, a tour guide and a high school boy disappear, and the wife of Jordan's twin brother goes flying off a cliff.

Jordan and her twin, the local chief of police, get nowhere using conventional forensic procedures. The violence rages on....Jordan finally adopts the shamanistic powers of her ancestors to do battle with the demonic forces of chaos....Stokes' voice takes on a hypnotic hush for the Indian legends, and there are wings to her lyric descriptions of the majestic setting." -The New York Times Book Review

"Atmospheric...Stokes writes poetically and effectively about this vanished heritage." -Publishers Weekly

"The Clan of the Cave Bear meets Twin Peaks. Rangy and Majestic." -Kirkus Reviews

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