Falling Leaves

Reviews of Tree Spirits: Tales and Encounters

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This lovingly crafted book is a marvel of true stories and quotes and art created over 15 years. Devoted to nature and nature's 'invisible' caretakers, the author freely admits the mistakes she made while learning about the personalities of trees and plants – mistakes we have made, too, inadvertently hurting or killing a beloved tree or plant. That's often how you learn to listen to and respect the spirit of that living being. Preston doesn't just tell us that Earth and life are sacred; she gives concrete examples and paints evocative pictures that sparkle with the divinity inherent in nature.

Written for real people, those of us who don't easily see and recognize supernatural beings, it's a consciousness-raising book, affirming that those glimpses out of the corner of our eyes are living, spiritual beings communicating and playing with us and teaching us about the higher realms. Many of us are already tuned in and just need to know that, for example, "hearing" a tree or "seeing" a dancing light are not imagination working overtime, and that we are not the only ones to have such experiences.

"Hold on to your socks," Preston says, "There are people among us, rational people, who hear and see nature spirits."

I should think quite a few A.R.E. folks have heard and seen and can attest to the truth of all she writes and paints in glowing colors. In fact, Edgar Cayce in his readings spoke about elementals, brownies, pixies, fairies, and gnomes. He said they are seen only by those attuned to the infinite. As a boy he himself played with elves and fairies.

This book needs to be read and given to our children, to teach them early on that their impressions are real and valuable, and will add immeasurable richness to life.

Susan Lendvay
Editor-in-Chief of Venture Inward
Review from the May/June 2009 Issue
Falling Leaf

To read this gorgeous, engaging book is to journey deep into human history, mythology and religion with the kindest and wisest of guides, discovering ancient wisdom about the unseen world around us, the healing power within Nature, and the spiritual bond that connects us to all living things.

Heather Preston's exquisite illustrations are matched by her delightful writing style that is at times folksy and conversational, poetic and sensory, inspired and inspiring, and always inviting and reassuring to the reader/learner.

Trees play a central role in this book as they do in the quality of our lives, their spirits waiting to be called upon to heal, energize, protect – and yes, even love us. For Heather Preston, it is time to share "the wonderful store of tree knowledge from cultures across the world" because they still hold many hidden but enduring truths about the power and importance of trees to our health, well-being, and very survival.

Drawing from a treasure trove of personal experiences, shared stories, careful research, and intuitive knowledge, the author-artist leads us into a realm of awareness that will forever change our view of the world and its invisible but nevertheless real dimensions. Students of all ages and fields will find enough evidence from all these sources to recognize a compelling argument for the existence of spirit within all living organisms. They will come away with a deepened reverence for our beautiful planet Earth and its diversity of life forms, as well as a heightened sense of urgency to stop the mindless destruction of our natural environment at work today.

Sanna Randolph Thomas, Ed.D
Falling Leaf
Tree Spirits is a masterly blend of inspired artwork and informative story telling. Using a cross-cultural approach, the book takes us on a marvelous journey through the legends of tree lore, calling to our remembrance a time when people spoke with trees and learned their secret wisdom. We smile at meeting the chocolate tree spirits of Mesoamerica, and marvel at the fierce independence of the madrone tree. The sheer beauty of the artwork adds even greater depth and dimension to our understanding of tree lore. Informative, entertaining, and uplifting, I recommend this book to anyone who feels a connection with nature or desires to learn more about the invisible realm of nature spirits.

Kathy L. Callahan, Ph.D., anthropologist, lecturer, and author of Multisensory Humans: The Evolution of the Soul
Falling Leaf
This gorgeously illustrated and beautifully written book is about regaining the powerful connection with trees and nature that so many of us have lost. As a psychotherapist, I have become well aware of the lack of connection between people as well as with the natural world. Tree Spirits, through its fascinating essays and illustrations, invites us to renew that connection, crossing time, religions, and experiences. This masterly book is just what the doctor ordered to reconnect us. Renewing this spiritual connection promises not only to save ourselves, but also the world we are part of. This book is food for our souls!

J. Scott Fraser, Ph.D., Professor at School of Professional Psychology, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. Author of Second-Order Change in Psychotherapy
Falling Leaf
This is a book that should grace the most prominent shelves of every gift shop in every hospital and convalescent service in the English-speaking world. My years of work with recuperating and rehabilitating workers plead the question, "Where was Tree Spirits when I most needed it to bring its beauty of illustration and its words of bountiful hope?" The very immune system of every patient is likely to respond gratefully. The message of fulfillment through a sense of personal infusion with all-that-is, should offend no one's religious convictions. Yet it is irresistibly spiritual. I truly appreciate this magnificently uplifting work.

Dan Tomasek, Rehabilitation Counselor
Falling Leaf
My mother is an ordained Lutheran minister who has written a book on the relationship between quantum physics and the great world religions. She is absolutely enthralled with Heather Preston's book, Tree Spirits, which explores the connection between nature and spirituality. It supports the concepts in her own book, Dancing Spirits, and adds the beauty of Heather's wonderful artwork.

Leah Reich, writer and editor
Falling Leaf
A Rationalist Weighs-in, April 13, 2010

Knowing my long-standing interest in and appreciation of big trees, my brother recommended this book to me. I was skeptical, as it's outside the realm of my usual interests and rational world view. I was immediately taken with the gorgeous illustrations and spent time enjoying them all before digging into the text. Within just a few pages I realized that the author is every bit as good a writer as artist. The stories and anecdotes are beautifully told and masterfully enriched by copious references to literature, folk tales, history, and science, all of which are carefully intertwined in such a way as to enhance each chapter. It is very clear that the author comes to the topics with a deep background and understanding of her subject matter. She knows her stuff!

I had the good fortune of reading the book just prior to a camping trip in the redwoods and found that it deepened that experience greatly. I saw lots more than just big trees! While it hasn't shaken my rationalist viewpoint, I must confess to having my horizons expanded reading this book, and am much more open to alternative viewpoints. There is magic in nature that this book puts into words in ways that I never could. But it's not just trips to the forest that've been broadened by this book. My view of nature encountered in daily life is keener and everything is just that much more interesting.

I would never have guessed it prior to reading this book, but I must confess to being open to more of the same. But, like the thought of going back to mass-produced ice cream after having experienced the really good stuff, the odds are slim of finding another gem like this!

G. Mooers (Gilberton, WA)
Falling Leaf
I am so moved by what I am reading ... your experience, insights, explorations, and clearly, your amazing, inspirational artwork. I finally have time to absorb, appreciate, contemplate. Your book will grow, seed, and spread positive energy wherever it goes.

Nancy Fox
Falling Leaf
I have been enjoying your book immensely. It is among the most moving I have read. I expect to inflate your net worth by buying copies for family and friends.

I now appreciate our trees far more than I did before reading your wise and penetrating words. I'd like you to meet our trees -- and let them know how much they mean to all of us.

Many thanks for writing and illustrating such a wonderful book.

David Plant
Falling Leaf
Artist-author hurdles 15 years of obstacles

The Roving I

By Woody Weingarten

Published in Ross Valley Reporter: Wednesday, 18 August 2010

I think of her in hyperbole: Heather "The Brave" Preston.

It's taken my San Anselmo neighbor 15 years, hurdling obstacle after obstacle, to publish a gorgeous $35 art-and-text book.

Yep, she's a perfectionist.

The breadth of what Heather covers boggles my brain. By dipping into her own experiences, "the wonders around us", and histories of diverse cultures, all in a conversational way, she leads readers to spiritual links between themselves and nature.

Those who prefer synopses to reading books might mistakenly guess her work is too esoteric, airy-fairy, sooooo Marin.

They'd be wrong.

"Tree Spirits: Tales and Encounters" blankets 208 pages (enriched by 173 illustrations).

Yes, they deal with gossamer stuff such as "tree chi", and include passing references to John Keats, the Buddha, and Edgar Cayce.

Yes, detailed four-color paintings and pen-and-ink drawings range from a moon rocket to my favorite, "The Cosmic Tree", with animals of virtually every size and shape cloaked in foliage.

But the prize-winning book's scope is so broad that no quotes I might extract could approach being a summary.

Research for the elegant coffee-table volume took an eternity. Time disappeared, Heather tells me, in "dusty old books, ancient texts, museums, and libraries".

All over the world.

She also meditated, focusing on Big Questions: "Why are we here"? and "What's life all about, anyway"?

Most of her 34 story-chapters were reworked six or seven times. That took nearly forever.

Illustrations required "thumbnail sketches, larger pencil sketches, additions and subtractions, moving things from one spot to another, getting the compositions to flow. There was a reason for everything. Nothing is by chance in this book".

Production added two years, "more time, care, and money than publishers want to put into a book these days, especially when a novel will bring greater monetary reward".

That lengthy path actually began with her drawing at age 4.

As an adult, she created fine art in oils, watercolors, mixed media, acrylics. She collected awards. She taught.

As a pro, she illustrated adult and kids' books, and satisfied commercial clients such as Quaker Oats, Grape Nuts, and Del Monte.

And decades ago she learned to be fastidious about "sounds and cadences" while practicing the craft of storytelling.

Along the way, she sliced a major chunk of time from her project -- eight years, in fact -- to become Donna Quixote. She battled the state of California in the CA Supreme Court over unjust taxation of artists' royalties.

She won.

All the while, the American publishing industry was shrinking by the minute. It's not that you now must have a faddish name, say Sarah Palin or Stieg Larsson, to be published. But it helps.

So, more and more people are turning to self-publishing.

There are many quickie online ways to pull that off. Heather is a stickler for quality, though -- which means extra steps, extra costs.

Carefully, she chose a Singapore company to print the 3,500 copies she wanted.

Not-so-instant adventure. First, proofs flew back and forth electronically across the Pacific. Later, "FedEx packages would come to my door every other day for several months".

Finally, the press-check needed to be in person. Following a 22-hour flight, she hunkered down for two weeks on a "cramped little couch" near the pressroom that ran 24 hours a day with four-man crews, mainly Chinese and Indonesians who spoke little English.

Heather would be awakened every hour or two to sign off or ask for adjustments.

It was slightly nerve-wracking, a bit aging.

In that vein, I asked her age and she says "Older and wiser". But quickly comes the addendum: "I'd like to have my art and writing speak for themselves".

They do.

Heather speaks, via a video at HeatherPrestonArt.com. Some of her illustrations can be seen there, too.

To buy the book, try the Great Acorn or Booksmith in San Anselmo, Book Passage in Corte Madera, the Depot in Mill Valley, the Muir Woods National Monument, or Amazon.

It also can be ordered from Heather's web site. That means she'll box it herself.

An artist-author's work is never done, after all.

To Fairfax writer Anne Lamott, life occurs "bird by bird". Heather might amend that to "page by page" or "task by task".

I caress my unpublished book manuscript, "Rollercoaster", wondering if I have enough stamina to emulate her perseverance, her willingness to be salesperson as well as creative force.

She's been writer, artist, editor, copyright maven, production expert, legal whiz, business-plan architect, marketing pro.

"I've learned so much", says Heather "The Brave", "especially how to multitask!"
Falling Leaf

In April 2011, the respected Midwest Book Review awarded Tree Spirits: Tales and Encounters a recommended 5-star rating.

Falling Leaf

Heather has put together an amazing collection of tales, legends, and wonderfully detailed illustrations.

As someone whose life revolves around trees, I felt like Heather was communicating with me personally as I read this great book. The book is so inspiring I will revisit it again and again.


Randy Harris
Artistry in Trees
Falling Leaf

I eagerly opened the box and started devouring Heather Preston's delightful perspectives and observations, like a bowl of ice cream. Simon Winchester does the same thing for me, it's hard to put down his books as well.

My only problem is the temptation to underline, draw stars beside paragraphs and draw GREAT BIG exclamation marks along side a particularly poignant phrase...like: "together we will string our story beads "...pointing out how connected we all are, so I devised "sticky" pad stars, make notes on them and then insert along the edge so I can find the quote, or her enchanting descriptions quickly. It is too lovely a book to mark up like I do most books. Thank you so, so much, it's not only a gift, it’s a wonderful treasure. I also like the format, there are so many "golden nuggets," and she carefully plants them with enough space and art surrounding them so the reader can absorb them.

So I thank you Jerrie, for a signed copy of Heather Preston’s lovely book!

Many, many thanks,
Susan Pearce-Rewolt


Heather Preston Art Home Page

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