The Thunder Tree: Lessons from a Secondhand Landscape

Overview

When people connect with nature, they do so in a specific place, and The Thunder Tree shows how that connection can change a life forever, how roots in the earth can be as important as roots in a family. For Bob Pyle, that place was the Highline Canal in Colorado. When he first discovered it as a boy in the 1950s, the canal and its surroundings were largely a wasteland, an accidental wilderness on the edge of a growing city. But as he grew up, the canal became his sanctuary, his teacher, the place where he ...
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Hardcover New 0395466318 Excellent condition Hardcover 1993 First Edition Octavo No marks Great dust jacket NF/NF.

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Overview

When people connect with nature, they do so in a specific place, and The Thunder Tree shows how that connection can change a life forever, how roots in the earth can be as important as roots in a family. For Bob Pyle, that place was the Highline Canal in Colorado. When he first discovered it as a boy in the 1950s, the canal and its surroundings were largely a wasteland, an accidental wilderness on the edge of a growing city. But as he grew up, the canal became his sanctuary, his teacher, the place where he developed a passion for the natural world. Once, a stately cottonwood along its banks literally saved his life during a freak hailstorm. By showing how the course of a life can be changed by a piece of land, Robert Michael Pyle argues eloquently that if we fail to preserve our opportunities to explore nature, we will diminish our lives and our culture immeasurably. Rich in history, poignant, and beautifully written, this is a book you will never forget.

A celebration of urban wild lands by one of our most brilliant and original nature writers. By showing how the course of a life can be changed by a piece of land, Pyle argues eloquently that if we fail to preserve our opportunities to explore nature, we diminish our collective concern for the natural world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The High Line Canal was part of a late 19th-century plan to bring water to eastern Colorado. But the canal on the outskirts of Denver was abandoned by the 1950s when the author discovered it. Pyle ( Evergreen ) has written an engrossing story of at least two levels: a charming memoir of his youth on the canal and a sobering account of uncontrolled development and loss of habitat. The canal had a profound effect on young Pyle, providing sanctuary, recreation and an intense interest in the world of nature. When his family moved to a new suburb (Aurora), they were at the edge of country; wasteland, vacant lots and abandoned farms abounded. Pyle saw the community grow from 20,000 to 200,000; high-rise buildings and shopping centers took over the countryside, and some species of wildlife became extinct. By the 1970s, 60 miles of the canal right-of-way became a public pathway and later, part of the National Trail System. (May)
Library Journal
``The Thunder Tree'' was a huge, hollow old cottonwood in which the author and his brother once found shelter as children from a life-threatening hailstorm. The tree grew along the High Line Canal, built in the late 19th century as part of a grand plan to bring river water to the Western plains for irrigation. Only a portion of the canal was ever built, but that portion happened to run through the city of Aurora, Colorado, where the author lived as a child and young adult. This book is a collection of essays about the High Line Canal and the butterflies, magpies, cottonwoods, and other living things that existed nearby. Pyle's recollections about growing up in Aurora with his family and friends in the 1950s add a personal dimension. In a broader sense, this book is about the relationship between people and natural areas and how each affects the other. Pyle, who has a Ph.D. in ecology from Yale, is the author of Wintergreen ( LJ 2/1/87) as well as several guides to butterflies. Recommended for both academic and public libraries.-- William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Angus Trimnell
In these essays, an ecologist from the northwest U.S. explores the intimate connections people make to parcels of wilderness, just as he did to a strip of water called the High Line Canal, and contemplates how this teaches individuals to care for the land. Reading each short essay goes quickly as Pyle gives a tour of the High Line, chronicles a history of northwest water distribution, relates memories of such impressive natural phenomena as butterflies and hailstorms, and observes instances of conservation as well as human alienation from nature. Pyle is not a great writer--his scene descriptions sometimes degenerate into mere listing--but his thoughts and ideas and recollections are meaningful. He makes some excellent points about why local conservation efforts are necessary to preserve ecosystems both for their own purposes and for human use.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395466315
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/5/1993
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.51 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prologue: Everybody's Ditch
Pt. I Lifeline
1 The Hailstorm 3
2 Watercourse 18
3 The Rivers of April 40
Pt. II Landmarks
4 Lilacs and Crossflowers 59
5 Magpie Days 78
6 Mile Roads 93
Pt. III City Limits
7 Snodgrass, Tatum, and Beasley 105
8 Of Grass and Growth 118
9 The Extinction of Experience 140
Pt. IV Still Life
10 Butterflies in Winter 155
11 A Grand Surprise 170
12 The Thunder Tree 187
Afterword: Travels in the Aftermath 203
Sources 212
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