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Journal of a Prairie Yearby Paul Gruchow
"As much as Journal of a Prairie Year is about the magnificence of the Midwest grasslands, Gruchow's book is also an invitation to learn about the self and how we, as individuals, fit into a much larger schematic of the world. And if you have lived in a city most of your life, without having yet discovered the prairies, his Journal will introduce you, via minutely detailed descriptions, to a heightened sense of sight and sound." A.S. Penne, Cerise Press (Read the entire Cerise Press review)
Synopses & Reviews
A lifelong resident of southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa, Paul Gruchow celebrated the few scattered patches of prairie land that remain in a region once dominated by grasslands. Gruchow recorded his thoughts, observations, and experiences in each season on the prairie, eventually compiling them into this moving chronicle of a sometimes harsh but always stunning landscape. Be it the bitter winds of winter, the return of the geese in spring, or the first pasque flower, the cycles of growth on the prairie have the power to move and inspire lovers of nature.
"Gruchow writes of the glare of moonlight on snow; of the impulse to name and possess things in the natural world; of prairie phlox, garter snakes, and the dust in the air that turns the sunlight crimson . . . an alertness permeates this enduring book." Los Angeles Times
"As much as Journal of a Prairie Year is about the magnificence of the Midwest grasslands, Gruchow’s book is also an invitation to learn about the self and how we, as individuals, fit into a much larger schematic of the world." Cerise Press
"The essential feature of the prairie is the horizon, which you can neither walk to, or touch."
Standing at the northeastern edge of the million-square-mile expanse, Paul Gruchow looks beyond the vast expression of flatness and fertility to plumb what is less often perceived there: a definitively taciturn landscape that has as much to teach us about our own minds as it does about the natural world.
Both a phenology and a philosophy, Journal of a Prairie Year charts one cycle of seasons, but reveals countless cycles of thought. The silence of winter snow juxtaposes our inability to hear its song; the fecundity of spring uncovers the trouble of naming; the tenacity of a prairie plant in sumer's heat calls to question the definition of a weed; the morality of fall asks why we can't resist driving the remains of this landscape toward extinction.
Originially published twenty-three years ago, Journal of a Prairie Year remains one of the finest depictions of the prairie ever written, an essential reintroduction to a threatened world.
About the Author
Paul Gruchow is the author of Journal of a Prairie Year (University of Minnesota Press, 1985), The Necessity of Empty Places (St. Martin's Press, 1988), Travels in Canoe Country (Little, Brown, 1992), Grass Roots (Milkweed Editions, 1995), and Boundary Waters (Milkweed Editions, 1997).
Raised in Montevideo, Minnesota, he was educated at the University of Minnesota and worked as the managing editor of the Worthington Daily Globe. Prior to his death in 2004, Paul taught at St. Olaf College and Concordia College, and was a frequent contributor to the Utne Reader, the New York Times, and the Hungry Mind Review, among other publications.
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