Beyond Walden: The Hidden History of America's Kettle Lakes and Ponds [NOOK Book]

Overview


Acclaimed geologist Robert Thorson has been fascinated by kettle lakes ever since his youth in the upper Midwest. As with historic stone walls, each kettle lake has a story to tell, and each is emblematic of the interplay between geology and history. Beyond Walden covers the natural history of kettle lakes, a band of small lakes that extends from the prairie potholes of Montana to the cranberry bogs of Cape Cod. Kettle lakes were formed by glaciers and are recognizable by their round shape and deep waters. ...
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Beyond Walden: The Hidden History of America's Kettle Lakes and Ponds

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Overview


Acclaimed geologist Robert Thorson has been fascinated by kettle lakes ever since his youth in the upper Midwest. As with historic stone walls, each kettle lake has a story to tell, and each is emblematic of the interplay between geology and history. Beyond Walden covers the natural history of kettle lakes, a band of small lakes that extends from the prairie potholes of Montana to the cranberry bogs of Cape Cod. Kettle lakes were formed by glaciers and are recognizable by their round shape and deep waters. Kettles are the most common and widely distributed "species" of natural lake in the United States. They have no inlet or outlet streams so they are essentially natural wells tapping the groundwater. Isolated from one another, each lake has its own personality, and is vulnerable to pollution and climate warming.



The most famous kettle lake is Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts; but northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota are most closely associated with them. These lakes have had a tremendous impact on the livelihood and lifestyles of peoples of the area--Native Americans, early explorers and settlers, and the locals and tourists who now use the lakes for recreation. Thorson explores lake science: how kettle lakes are different from other lakes, what it takes to keep all lakes healthy, how global warming and other factors affect lakes. Beyond Walden has a strong environmental message, and will do for the kettle lakes of America's Heartland--and beyond--what Stone by Stone did for the historic stone walls of New England.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Thorson (geology, Univ. of Connecticut; Stone by Stone) provides a complete natural and cultural history of kettle lakes, which are remnants of the Ice Age scattered along the path of retreating glaciers from Maine to Montana. Creating a loose narrative, Thorson follows kettles from their icy birth to the present where many are succumbing to myriad forms of degradation. He also discusses the significant role kettles have played in the lives of pre-Columbian Indians, Native Americans, early explorers and entrepreneurs, and present-day middle-class families who build lakeside dream cottages. A connection is even made between Walden Pond, America's most famous kettle lake, and the appreciation of nature that influenced the Transcendental movement of the 19th century. VERDICT Though detailed explanations of lake ecology and geological processes, which leave no stone unturned, read like an undergraduate textbook at times, fans of natural history will still find much of interest, including fun tidbits such as why Walden is called a pond and what Ice Age meat tastes like.—Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, Lake Superior State Univ., Sault Ste. Marie, MI


—Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman
Kirkus Reviews
Geological and social history of America since the ice age, centered around the many glacial kettle lakes scattered across the northeastern and north-central United States. Hartford Courant environmental columnist Thorson (Geology/Univ. of Connecticut; Exploring Stone Walls: A Field Guide to New England's Stone Walls, 2005, etc.) explains that rivers feed and drain traditional lakes. Kettle lakes are natural wells refreshed from deep groundwater filtered through grit-free sand, all formed more than 10,000 years ago when glaciers retreated and isolated slabs of ice melted. Since glaciers never reached most of the United States, much of the country does not have them. The quintessential kettle lake is Walden Pond, but thousands of these natural treasures represent a resource that deserves to be preserved. Lacking river connections, their waters remain tranquil, deep and pure, but such isolation makes it difficult to flush away pollutants. This was not a problem in early America because cities tended to grow near more active waters, but developers and vacationers have begun to arrive in force. Thorson casts his net widely, and readers with some knowledge of geology and botany will have an easier time understanding his meticulous explanations of the science involved. Following an overview of the last ice age that emphasizes massive water flow and lake evolution, he describes the transformation of the region's humans, plants and animals to the present day. The author's enthusiasm shines through as he uses personal experience, literary references and the history of American popular culture-"going up to the lake" for the summer generally meant a kettle lake-to illustrate this lively chronicle ofa hitherto obscure environmental feature. A rich, exhaustive account of one of America's threatened ecological jewels.
From the Publisher

“Kettle lakes are natural wells refreshed from deep groundwater filtered through grit-free sand, all formed more than 10,000 years ago when glaciers retreated and isolated slabs of ice melted…The author’s enthusiasm shines through as he uses personal experience, literary references and the history of American popular culture—“going up to the lake” for the summer generally meant a kettle lake—to illustrate this lively chronicle of a hitherto obscure environmental feature. A rich, exhaustive account of one of America’s threatened ecological jewels.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“This book will be delightful reading for anyone who heads ‘to the lake’ every summer. (It belongs on the cottage bookshelf next to the frayed copy of the Peterson bird book and the local trail guide.) Thorson writes with intelligence and pleasure, and you will come away understanding your place in a new way.”—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

Beyond Walden should be required reading for all lakefront property owners, other lake users, and those who manage our land and water resources. Robert Thorson takes the reader on a ten-thousand-year stroll through the geological, chemical, and biological history of kettle lakes, weaving in enough human cultural ties to make for great reading, preferably by your favorite lake.”—Kenneth J. Wagner, Ph.D., past president of the North American Lake Management Society

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802719836
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.12 (d)
  • File size: 7 MB

Meet the Author

Robert M. Thorson grew up in the upper Midwest and continues to visit his parents in Minnesota every summer. A professor of geology at the University of Connecticut, he holds a joint appointment also in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Anthropology. He writes a weekly op-ed column for the Hartford Courant and his articles are frequently syndicated nationally. His first book, Stone by Stone, was awarded the 2003 Connecticut Book Award for nonfiction. His work on stone wall preservation has been recognized in articles in the New York Times and the Boston Globe.
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