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Susan Vreeland: Author Ensures Enduring Support for Redwoods

Susan Vreeland named the League in her will. Photo by Kip Gray

Susan Vreeland believes everyone needs some engagement with Earth’s astonishing natural places. That’s why she has named Save the Redwoods League in her will.

"Save the Redwoods acknowledges this human need, for the sake of our national health, our emotional health," she said. "Preserving more redwood groves provides an atmosphere to heal, to consider one’s life, to confront the eternal."

Vreeland, an author, is best known for her fictional works about the lives of famous artists. She's written about Vermeer, Renoir, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh and Cezanne. Three of her five books about painters have made The New York Times bestseller list, garnering praise for their literary merit and historical accuracy.

Part of Vreeland’s mission is helping readers see as artists do. "By the attention painters give to, say, light filtering through a canopy of branches, they're sending us a message," she explained. "They’re telling us to stop and look and slow down, to observe the millions of delights of our physical world."

Nature plays a role in many of Vreeland’s books—most prominently in her 2004 novel, The Forest Lover, about Canadian artist Emily Carr.

"The more she entered into the life of the tree, as one breath moving, in and out like the tide, one heart-drum beating, the more alive her work became," Vreeland said of Carr.

Time spent in nature animates Vreeland’s work as well. She's particularly inspired by redwood groves. "My soul needs that reconnection with the forest, the rushing waters, the tranquil meadows," she said. "The girth of the giant sequoia offers an image of sturdiness, stability. The reaching for the sky of the taller coast redwoods is a call for us to keep reaching, growing." With her bequest, protection of the redwoods will keep growing as well.