Barb Lachenbruch straddles life between town and her off-grid cabin in the woods, and writes in both places. Her writing includes fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry.
Barb grew up in a quiet corner of Los Altos Hills, California, a town on the border between road-less chaparral and Silicon Valley. She cut apricots in the orchards as her first paying job. California was in her veins, and she did her PhD at Stanford on poison oak, after earning biology degrees from Swarthmore (BA) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (MS). Afterward, she had a post-doc at UC Berkeley in a marine biomechanics lab. Before moving to Oregon, her path also meandered through Texas, New Hampshire, and an indigenous village in Guatemala for the Peace Corps.
She moved to Corvallis for a faculty position at Oregon State University. There, she raised two children and was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor in Wood Science & Engineering and Forest Ecosystems & Society. Her research focused on wood quality, and the relationships in plants of their structure and function especially related to mechanical support and water transport. Her teaching included wood anatomy, tree physiology, forest biology, issues in renewable resources, and forests and civilization. She and her family spent sabbatical years in France (1998-99) and Chile (2005-6). She recently retired but is still working part-time on manuscripts.
Op/ed: Cloud-[COVID]-9[teen], Pamplin News
The Physics of Connection and Solitude, High Country News, Sept. 2020
Current writing projects:
Barb’s writing includes fiction, essays, and the occasional blog, but she has cut back on her blogging to focus on getting new pieces published. Her longer writing includes an in-progress novel and an in-progress memoir.
At the moment, most of her current writing effort is on her novel, “Nettle Soup,” which is contemporary literary fiction about human connections. The novel follows Dawn Perkins, a fourth-generation owner of a homestead in the Oregon Coast Range, who has transformed her property into a commune. Her desire is to realize her dream of living light on the earth with like-minded people. But no one lives up to her rigid standards, and the commune is on a road to failure. Unless Dawn and the other residents figure out how to connect with themselves, their small community, the world at large, and the land, Dawn will lose her ties to the past, her family, her home, her support, and even her health–everything. The story of the eighteen ragtag residents on their road to survival is told through the interwoven stories of Dawn and the other young parents, an older veteran, and the three teenagers who never had a choice of where to live.
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Instagram: @BotanyBarb, @BarbLachenbruch