After decades of fantasizing and saving, of working multiple jobs and embracing frugality in the midst of Manhattan, Martha Leb Molnar and her husband had found their parcel of land. Determined to turn an overgrown and unproductive Vermont apple orchard into a thriving and beautiful landscape, they decided to restore this patch of land to a pristine meadow and build a safe haven for their family and nearby wildlife.
Once they cleared the gnarled and dying trees away, Molnar was forced to wage war on the invasive species that had sprung up around the property. Propelled by the heated debates surrounding non-native species and her own complicated family history and migration, she was driven to research the Vermont landscape, turning to scientific literature, experts in botany and environmental science, and locals who have long tended the land in search of answers. At turns funny, thoughtful, and conversational, Playing God in the Meadow follows this big city transplant as she learns to make peace with rural life and an evolving landscape that she cannot entirely control.
"I don't think 'meadow' and 'meditation' have the same root, but perhaps they should—Molnar’s book is a lovely reminder of how you can see the world in an acre."—Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
“Molnar's journey of working to restore the biological potential of her land shows the richness and depth of living systems, and the many ways that people can engage with that dynamism. Her story is an important one as we seek to understand the best ways to steward land and resources in changed and changing environments.”—Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration
“Molnar creates a valuable testament to our evolving attitudes toward nature. And by weaving in her own personal history, Molnar makes this an important contribution to the field of natural history writing in the tradition of Robin Wall Kimmerer and Michael Pollan.”—Robert Taylor, nature writer
“A thoughtful tale of making a meadow, from a gardener who is not afraid to struggle with questions botanical and environmental.”—Sydney Landon Plum, author of Solitary Goose