Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are.” Gretel Ehrich
M. E. SCHUMAN
Environmentalist, adventurer, writer, woman…
I was born in a small, rural town in eastern Washington, where I was free to explore the basalt cliffs and sagebrush fields. After receiving my undergraduate degree in wildlife biology, range management, and soil science, I married my soulmate, whom I met working in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. Our adventure took us to California, where my husband was a mechanical engineer; and Nevada, where I tracked wild horses. And then, I was offered a position in Alaska, working with reindeer and muskox. We thought it destiny, as his company also had a position in the same state and the same city, Anchorage. Early on in our Alaskan dream, Rick was tragically killed, propelling me on a tumultuous journey through a male-dominated culture that routinely diminished and disrespected the accomplishments and abilities of women. I experienced with great dismay the ways in which greed and ambition so easily place humanity and the environment in jeopardy. My memoir, The Understory, is the culmination of my efforts to control my own destiny, through the healing lessons of nature, and my love of writing. Currently, while in Florida, I am writing and wandering, as I ponder new beginnings, while looking for a community to call home.
The Understory: A Female Environmentalist in the Land of the Midnight Sun
By M. E. Schuman
One of our own ya’ll. Who will connect with this memoir? Free spirits, old souls, adventurers, nurturers, environmentalists, survivors, marginalized folks, animal rights protectors, mental health warriors, nature connoisseurs. Travelers to distant places and those who ache to do so. Frustrated fighters on the front lines of climate change, citizens who confront government bureaucracy, narcissistic men, religious men, confident women with the wild inner child still solidly intact. Those who have ever hugged a tree or simply sat beneath one, those whose lips have felt the ocean dry to a salty kiss or just swam in it. Those who birdwatch, or those who have desperately wiped black ooze from between feathered wings. In other words, any of us. All of us will relate to this book and be haunted and heartened by Michelle’s story. Everyone except Dawn. Not your friend Dawn or the rising sun kind. The dishwashing liquid. Dawn will not like it. What do I possibly mean by that? Read the book. The Understory is our story. Order it. Enjoy it. Own up to it.
I have observed a grizzly sow playing with her three cubs on sun-drenched slopes on the western edge of the North American continent. I have borne witness to the sobering spectacle of hundreds of female seals dragging their blackened, distended bellies through the oozing black death spread by human greed, simply to give birth. The amazing journey of life: pain, love, sadness, cruelty, joy. One day, my neighbor hesitantly stopped as he was leaving my house, turned, and said, “Michelle, you need to tell your story, to help other women. Women like you.“