Art Beat: The Star In The Sycamore | WMUK

Art Beat: The Star In The Sycamore

Feb 18, 2021

Author Tom Springer
Credit Emily Springer

Tom Springer lives on a four-acre farm in Three Rivers that was established in the 1860’s. He’s built a close connection with nature and has collected some of those experiences and insights in a recent book.

The Star in the Sycamore: Discovering Nature’s Virtues in the Wild Nearby was published by Mission Point Press in 2020.

Springer’s first collection of essays, Looking for Hickories, was named a Michigan Notable Book.

“It was actually stargazing that led me to the sycamore tree,” Springer says. “One night I was taking my dog out to the barn, which I did every night—it was this ritual—and I happened to look up at the stars. It was a clear night, and I thought, 'Oh, that’s the Big Dipper up there.' I looked behind me—that’s Orion’s Belt. After that, I realized I was woefully ignorant of the night sky and constellations.”

Credit Courtesy of the author

Springer had long been interested in “things on Earth,” as he puts it, like conservation and native habitats, but he had ignored what was above. But he became a stargazer, taking walks in the country at night and watching the sky. From there came the title of his newest book.

“I noticed the trees at night,” he says. “Bare as they are in the winter, you really notice the form they have taken by turning themselves or growing or orienting themselves toward the light.”

Springer saw that trees, like people and other living things, seem to grow toward the light and require it to thrive.

Aside from writing about stars, trees, and light, Springer has included essays about how nature heals the broken places in people, and expands the horizons of both humans and animals. He says city dogs seem to miss the wildness country dogs experience every day, for instance. Springer writes about how place affects who we are, and the importance of knowing our roots in the earth.

Tom Springer has worked as a writer, editor, and manager, for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the University of Notre Dame. He has served as a volunteer on the board of the Saint Joseph County Conservation District and the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. He holds a master's degree in journalism from the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University.

Springer will be one of four local authors participating in an online event, "Voices of Kalamazoo," sponsored by Bookbug/this is a bookstore in Kalamazoo. It begins at 6:30 p.m. on February 25. Advance registration is required.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

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