While most people think that our hunter-gatherer forebears eked out an existence by happening across various edibles on the landscape, the truth is that they often created and cultivated their own edible gardens. These gardens weren't planted in rows or organized in tidy plots, but rather encompassed the entire terrain. This engagingly-written book by M. Kat Anderson covers a vast expanse of Indigenous cultural plant-based practices of various California native people and pulls upon anecdotes and evidence that these people who have inhabited this land for 14,000+ years did so in such a way that the landscape flourished under their care. Compare this to the less than 200 years it took for settler colonists to basically undo the natural abundance.
There is an extensive chapter on what the Spaniards saw when they first set eyes on California, calling it a "paradise." And then the harder to take in realities of what the Spaniards did to the native people in their lust for conquest.
But beyond that, there is much hope. This book is a literal guidebook to reinvigorating the beauteous landscapes of California. It's not just that "untouched land" reverts to bountiful glory, but that the human tending actually helped it along. Various methods of culling, burning, digging, and harvesting actually helped different plants stay healthy and thrive. Humans aided the spread of useful plants and many of them are now fully adapted to certain kinds of disturbance.
Humanity is not the scourge, but rather the caretaker. Tending the Wild reminds us of the original instructions from Creator, and that it is our culture that is destructive, not humanity itself, when it is observing the world and living in balance with it. A must read, and an absolutely favorite of the Paradise Realm.