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Prairie Spring: A Journey Into the Heart of a Seasonby Peter Dunne
Synopses & Reviews
In this first of four seasonal narratives, Pete Dunne brings the prairie spring to glorious, overflowing life. Every season has qualities that take us by the hand and invite us along; spring grabs us by the throat. It is irresistible to poets, painters, and even office-dwellers, who suddenly decide to go for a lunch-hour walk the day the thermometer tops fifty degrees. In an effort to entice an estranged audience to explore a too-frequently overlooked and even alien environment--the natural world that surrounds us--Dunne and his wife set out to experience spring in the heartland, where half a million migrating cranes' conjoined cries make the air tremble and your heart feel three sizes too large for your rib cage; where storms as black as prairie earth darken the skies; and where the grassy plains are so festooned with flowers that you look around for the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man. Whether through his narrative, dialogue with his wife, or even diaglogue with an ancient pictograph of a horse on a cave wall, Dunne celebrates the phenomena unique to spring on the prairie, yet the experiences with nature as well as humans lead him to universal truths as well.
"Dunne (Golden Wings) presents an intimate account of a two-month trek — accompanied by photographer wife Linda — following the coming of spring across America's prairie grasslands. Theirs is an odyssey into 'the time of beginning' that weaves together spiritual insight, plant biology, geology lessons and American history — and a plethora of bird sightings, from the mating trysts of the increasingly rare lesser prairie chicken to the plight of the threatened mountain plover. Their journey begins in New Jersey and continues to Nebraska, their arrival timed to witness the annual migration of half a million northbound sandhill cranes. Next come Colorado and a primer on how homesteading sodbusters transformed an ocean of vibrant prairie grasses into a devastating dustbowl; New Mexico and the Sixth Annual High Plains Lesser Prairie-Chicken Festival; back through Colorado and the Pawnee National Grasslands for a glimpse of the threatened prairie dog, once (along with bison) among the environmental engineers of the 19th century Western plains; and into South Dakota, home to between 800 and 1,400 free-ranging bison. Dunne's melodic prose and rhapsodic connection with the natural world brilliantly entice 'an estranged audience to explore a... now alien environment.' Photos." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A portrait of spring in the heartland of North America In this first of four seasonal narratives, Pete Dunne sends a postcard from the prairie in his characteristically puckish style.The prairie is an exciting place to explore an unfolding drama—man versus the environment—and as Dunne and his wife travel through the heartland, the fleeting nature of the season comes to symbolize the precarious balance between the two. At the Sandhill Crane Festival in Nebraska,Dunne observes the struggle between maintaining the cranes habitat and meeting farmers needs for water. As in other habitats, human encroachment is only one of the challenges facing the preservation of the Pawnee National Grassland in Colorado.
Climate change, invasive plants and animals, and mineral exploitation are just a few of the others. Conflicts over the grassland habitat continue between ranchers and prairie dogs and between oil companies and prairie chickens. Yet Dunne finds affirmation on the prairie: people putting their lives back in place after a tornado; volunteers giving their time to conservation efforts; the drive of all species to move their genes to the next generation, which manifests itself so abundantly on the prairie in spring.
About the Author
PETE DUNNE is the author of many books, including Pete Dunnes Essential Field Guide Companion, Pete Dunne on Bird Watching, and most recently Prairie Spring, the first in a four-book series on the seasons. He is the vice president of the New Jersey Audubon Society and director of its Cape May Bird Observatory.
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History and Social Science » Americana » Great Plains