Boundary Waters: The Grace of the Wild

Boundary Waters: The Grace of the Wild

by Paul Gruchow
     
 

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Organized by the seasons of the year, Boundary Waters explores the 2.5 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area that straddles the United States-Canada border near Lake Superior. Gruchow turns a naturalist's eye on a wilderness of wolves, moose, and loons as he visits national parks and other scenic spots. Drawing on the works of Thoreau and Wendell Berry, he

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Overview

Organized by the seasons of the year, Boundary Waters explores the 2.5 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area that straddles the United States-Canada border near Lake Superior. Gruchow turns a naturalist's eye on a wilderness of wolves, moose, and loons as he visits national parks and other scenic spots. Drawing on the works of Thoreau and Wendell Berry, he explores the relationship of person to place.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The spirit of human nature, demonstrates farmer/writer Gruchow in this fine little book, is connected to the natural world in a way that demands our respect. Four essays comprise the book. Two are new, two are revised from previous publication. Each is devoted to a different season and filled with Gruchow's observations of the boundary waters, the interconnected lakes and forests running between northern Minnesota and Ontario. As he navigates these waters by canoe and boat, and crosses the land by foot and ski, sometimes alone, sometimes with a companion, Gruchow finds, and elucidates, numerous moments that feed his "capacity for delight and wonder: The water tumbling from one lake into the next, the laughter of loons, the howling of wolves...." Such natural acts and occurrences may be simple, yet they are spectacular and, Gruchow argues, can provide human beings a feeling of renewal. Slices of natural history and stories of early pioneers keep Gruchow's pacing and story lines on a spacious winding path. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
Meandering essays, some in journal form, on the author's experiences hiking, canoeing, and camping—alone and with friends and students—in the five-million-acre Minnesota-Ontario border ecosystem called the Boundary Waters.

Gruchow describes the region, parts of which are federally protected, as a "land of dense forests and thick bogs, of rocky ridges and deep, clear lakes." Though he is disdainful of those who can't "connect," (e.g., who carry alarm clocks into the wilderness), Gruchow is no macho outdoorsman. He admits that he is powerless in the face of nature; that he doesn't entirely command his life; this he understands as a condition of "maturity." In the wild, he says, we confront evidence of powers greater than our own; in this humility is the beginning of spirituality. Gruchow has a gift not only for aphorism but for description: The moose, for all its impressiveness, looks "like the discarded early draft of an idea for an animal." Gruchow is a passive observer, there to discover, as he says in one essay, the reds in the fall trees. This gives the book a certain calm but also, in its weaker stretches, a flatness. The best section is a long essay in which the author describes reading Walden over a period of weeks one winter with three college students. When one of them proposed they try Thoreau's experiment, the group determined to spend a time at a wilderness base camp, Seagull Lake, were they read widely and wrote every day. Gruchow succeeds in making new many of the Waldenite's observations, though he realizes the limitations of Thoreau's experiment, assured that "the perfectly Thoreauvian life," lived as it is away from society, would not be worth living.

Should find an enthusiastic audience among naturalists with an interest in wild places, whether they've already explored the Boundary Waters or are simply content to accept Gruchow's version of it.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781571312358
Publisher:
Milkweed Editions
Publication date:
12/28/1999
Series:
The World As Home Series
Pages:
232
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.69(d)

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