The temperate rainforests of North America were once so dense, it is said, that a squirrel could travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River without ever touching the ground. Today, of course, that same squirrel would have to navigate the vast East Coast megalopolis, the rolling farmlands of the Midwest and South, and a spaghetti bowl of state and federal highways from here to there and there to here before it could dip its tail in the big river.
Places yet remain, however, where the trees still hold sway. Oregon and Washington State still enjoy vast swaths of forest untouched and unseen by the steel diligence of modern enterprise. My little town in rural New Hampshire floats on a verdant sea of foliage that changes color in time, withers, dies and returns each spring in a bellowing of green. The town itself was zoned so that every neighborhood has its own small forest, a thought unheard of in places like Boston or Manhattan, where the land would have been plundered long ago for its real estate value. Here, it was instead decided that the trees, to quote Dr. Seuss, are what everyone needs.
Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, was in the news after the election of Donald Trump, despite having passed away more than a quarter century ago, and for good reason. The contradictions of Seuss’s canon — which oscillates between presenting the sort of virulent racism and stereotyping embraced by Trump’s base, and delivering a searing progressive critique of the military-industrial complex, authoritarianism, fascism and corporate-led environmental destruction — somehow capture the entire spectrum of the current political moment.
Geisel last surged into the news in September, when First Lady Melania Trump excoriated a librarian’s decision to decline the Trump family’s donation of Seuss books due to racist caricatures of Africans and Asians contained in books such as If I Ran a Zoo.
At the time, the librarian, Liz Phipps Soeiro of Cambridge, Massachussetts, wrote, “Many people are…