Tag Archive 'nature writing'

May 29 2017

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New Anthology in Print

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The World Engaged, the new Wood Thrush Books anthology of nature writing, is now available. I collected work for it for nearly two years, and spent the past three months putting it together. So I’m very pleased to finally have this book in print.

Unlike previous WTB anthologies, this one is a full-length book: 158 pages of nature-related poetry and prose. 23 contributors. Some of them have had their work showcased by WTB before: Howard Nelson, Benjamin Green, Michael Jewell, and Helen Ruggieri to name a few. But there are new voices in this anthology as well: Susan Cohen, Stuart Bartow, Vicki Graham and half a dozen more. And a piece by yours truly, of course.

This time the selections are as diverse as possible, from deeply personal accounts to philosophical rumination, from conventional writing to the experimental, and touching upon a wide variety of subjects. Everyone has a different way of engaging the natural world and I wanted this anthology to reflect that.

You can get this book at the Wood Thrush Books website. I just posted it. Or you can get it from Amazon.com. It’s available there print-on-demand. Either way, you’ll have it in about a week. Enjoy.

 

 

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Feb 07 2017

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Burroughs Book Finally in Print

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At long last, the Burroughs book is in print. I’ve been reading his essays for decades, and toying with the idea of selecting and publishing excerpts from his work for nearly that long. He wrote over 30 books on nature. I’ve been crazy enough to read most of them.

The full title of this book is Universal Nature: Philosophical Fragments from the Writings of John Burroughs. As the title suggests, the excerpts I have selected tend towards the abstract. While Burroughs was the master of the quaint nature essay – quite often writing about songbirds – he delved deeply into philosophical matters as well.  In his later years he became interested in the tension between science and religion. His was an utterly naturalistic worldview, of course, so he leaned as heavily towards pantheism as I do. Hence my obsession with him.

While Burroughs comes off as a simple, white-bearded countryman observing birds and the like, he was a surprisingly complex character in real life. My biographical introduction puts his work in context, showing how his thoughts emerged from friendships, travels and fruit farming in addition to extensive reading. The excerpts are organized chronologically, making it clear how his perception of wild nature evolved over time from the particular to the universal.

You can get a copy by going to my website WoodThrushBooks.com. It is also available at Amazon. I hope you find the natural philosophy of John Burroughs as intriguing as I have.

 

 

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Jan 10 2016

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New WTB Website

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Wood-ThrushThe renovated Wood Thrush Books website, featuring used books on a variety of nature-related subjects, is now up and running!

Many of you have been hearing about this undertaking for months. With Judy’s help, I’ve finally turned a quasi-professional site into a bona fide online bookstore.

To be honest, Judy did all the heavy lifting. She reconfigured the site so that browsing it is easy and making a purchase is even easier. All I did was upload a bunch of cover photos and book blurbs, which has been more time consuming than difficult.

There are over 150 books at the site now, between used books and those published by WTB, and more on the way. Shipping is included, making these books quite affordable. The inventory system lets you know when a book is out-of-stock, and a third party securely handles credit cards. We can even do returns.

I am quite pleased to provide a place where readers can browse good books about the natural world, from classic and contemporary nature writing, to ecology, natural history, wilderness travel, wildlife, and even astronomy. So check it out: WoodThrushBooks.com

 

 

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Jun 16 2015

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A Major Lifestyle Change

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BooksAmMktTwo weeks ago, I did something I have been dreaming about doing for years. I stopped working for other people and got back into the bookselling business.

It began innocently enough. In April I posted several of my older books to Amazon.com, thereby making them available to a lot more readers. Go to Amazon, punch in my name, and most of my published work will come up now.

That in itself felt like a major accomplishment – something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. Then I took things a step further. I posted a bunch of other books to Amazon Marketplace, just to see if I could sell them that way. When orders started coming in, I was beside myself. I started buying and posting more and more books. Then two weeks ago, everything changed. That’s when I lost my job at the UPS Store. That’s when Judy suggested I take the next four months to focus on building the online bookselling business instead of looking for another job. I said we should sleep on it. When I got up the next morning, Judy gave me the high sign. Then I set to work like a man possessed.

For quite some time now, Judy and I have been toying with the idea of having a retail operation in our latter years. But the more we looked into it, the less a bricks-and-mortar store appealed to us. Online seems a better way to go.

I love books. I like reading, writing and publishing them. And yes, even selling them. Some of you will remember when I had a store full of used books. That was back in the 80s. Well, it looks like things have come full circle.

Naturally I favor outdoor/nature books, but I’m trading in a little bit of everything these days. Eventually, Judy and I will rebuild the Wood Thrush Books website so that we can sell new, used and remaindered books by other publishers there along with the titles that I publish. All nature-related stuff, of course. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I’m hustling to make this business fly. Wish me luck.

 

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May 12 2015

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Maine Book Reading

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UT coverJust a quick note to let all of you know that I’ll be signing my new book, The Unexpected Trail, at the Eloquent Page in Saint Albans, Vermont this coming Sunday. That’s May 17th, between 1 and 3 in the afternoon. I’ll be reading a few excerpts from it as well. Even if you already have a copy, come on down and listen to a few stories that aren’t in the book.

Unfortunately, my canine companion Matika will not be there. She’s gotten a little grumpy in her old age.

Truth is, I’d rather be hiking than promoting my books about hiking. But it’s always a pleasure to read to attentive ears. So come on down!

 

 

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Aug 07 2014

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Touring the Adirondacks

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Sacandaga CampYesterday morning I awoke to the sound of the Sacandaga River flowing southward just a few yards from my tent. As I broke camp I marveled at how much of the Adirondacks I’ve seen during the past 14 months while promoting my book, The Allure of Deep Woods. I’ve visited dozens of stores in as many towns, sometimes doing readings or signings. I’ve driven hundreds of miles inside the Blue Line, crossing my own tracks more than once. The task has given me a different perspective on the Adirondack Park, to say the least.

A couple hundred yards north of where I camped, the West Branch of the Sacandaga River joins its main stream. I crossed the West Branch eight years ago while hiking the Northville/Placid Trail. That’s the subject of my book. How strange to be so close to that wilderness experience yet so far away. Adirondack wild country and the web of roads and towns superimposed on it are two closely related yet entirely different things. I’ve come to know the latter quite well during my 14-month book tour.

The folks attending my reading at the Northville Public Library the night before asked me all sorts of questions. I did my best to answer their questions as honestly as possible, but can’t help but feel like I failed them as far as conveying the essence of deep woods goes. I sometimes wonder if my book is any better at that.

The Adirondacks are a vacationland for most people – a playground you could say. That’s a good thing. Any exposure to the natural world is good for the soul. That said, I wish I could relay the deeply religious sentiments that stir within me whenever I roam a wild forest, and inspire others to experience the same. But words only go so far.

 

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May 22 2014

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Abstractions and the Cosmos

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AndromedaGalaxyLate May, when the world is all green and flowers are blooming, seems like a lousy time of year to immerse oneself in cosmic abstractions. Only a fool would venture deep into space and philosophical speculations about the nature of the universe while a balmy breeze is caressing the moist earth. I am guilty as charged.

A little over a month ago, I pulled out my cosmos manuscript, mothballed for eight years, and started revising it. I’m about three-fourths of the way through that process now, having worked like a madman on it early each morning as robins sing mindlessly outside my window. It’s a passion out of sync with the season, I must confess.

Though few people see it that way, I consider my mad scribblings about cosmology a form of nature writing. After all, the universe is the ultimate wilderness where the nature of things plays out on a grand scale. It seems silly to me to discuss the meaning and purpose of our lives here on this planet without considering the big picture. All the same, I look forward to being a little more down to earth in the near future getting all sweaty, dirty and bug-bitten again in deep woods. Just have to wrap up this draft first.

 

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Jan 27 2014

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Loon Wisdom Now In Print

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LW coverLoon Wisdom: Sounding the Depths of Wildness has just been published. Thanks to the efficient print-on-demand services offered by CreateSpace, I was able to get this book out there rather quickly.

This is the best, most comprehensive collection of my short work ever put into print. Two-thirds of these personal essays and narratives have appeared in earlier collections of mine, but the other third are relatively new or previously unpublished.

There are twenty-five pieces in this collection altogether.  The earlier work focuses upon elemental nature and our various interactions with it, while latter work delves into the importance of wildness to being human – a favorite theme of mine these days. Nearly all of these pieces catch me hiking, fishing or simply being in the woods.

Ordering WTB titles is much easier than it used to be. You can get a copy by going to Amazon.com or visiting my website, WoodThrushBooks.com and using PayPal.  

 

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Jan 02 2014

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A Room of My Own

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my roomOne thing leads to another. A month and a half ago, I switched jobs. That put my wife Judy and I on the same schedule, making it difficult for me to do literary work and her to relax at the same time in our common living space downstairs. The solution was simple: move my office upstairs. After all, we have a bedroom up there that is used only a week or two each year. So last week Judy helped me move my furniture. Then I built some more shelves and hauled all my books and papers up the stairs.

Now I have a room of my own where I can close the door and work undisturbed. After spending a little time in this new workspace, I wonder why I didn’t make the move a long time ago.

It’s ten below zero outside this morning. The weather forecasters say it won’t get above zero today. I had planned on going for a hike with my dog this afternoon but I think we’ll stay inside instead. So it goes this time of year.

Funny thing about being an outdoor/nature writer: I do most of my work indoors. Oh sure, I venture into the woods when I can and scribble in a field journal while I’m out there. But the work is done on a computer screen at home. The way I figure it, the cold season is the best time for writing since I prefer being outside the other seven months of the year.

Deep winter. I expect to get a lot of work done during the next few months. Now I have a good space in which to do it. The world will thaw out soon enough. Then there will be plenty of things to draw me outside.

 

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Oct 21 2013

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Autumn Walk

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Autumn trailThanks to recent strong winds, most of the leaves are down now. I kick them up as I walk, stirring up memories of greener days as well as the pleasant, dry rot smell of foliage becoming humus. I revel in it.

These are golden days – a feast for the eyes. Yet the long slumber is fast approaching, as shadowy trunks of largely denuded trees attest. The sun rises reluctantly these days and sets surprisingly fast. But that only makes the warm glow at noon seem all the more precious. It’s the season of mixed feelings to be sure.

I walk in shirtsleeves, breaking a sweat that chills me when I stop. This is sweater weather but I’m not ready to go there yet. Haunted by memories of winters past, I cling to any hint of summer. The slightest leafy green in the forest understory encourages me to do so.

My dog Matika frolics through the forest, finding new and interesting smells everywhere. Meanwhile I slip in and out of the abstract. Lost in thought, I barely notice the rummaging squirrel or the V of geese honking overhead. Turning inward now. I do my best writing during the colder half of the year. Being an outdoor/nature writer for the most part, the irony of this is not lost on me.

Towards the end of my walk, I feel a sense of urgency similar to what squirrels, geese and other wild creatures must feel this time of year. What do I need to do to prepare for the dark months ahead? I’ve gathered books like nuts, and cleared away as many distractions as possible. I’m just about ready to sit down to work, to reactivate the life of the mind. My warm season frolic is almost over.

 

 

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