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Our Neck of the Woods

Exploring Minnesota's Wild Places

2009

Daniel J. Philippon, editor

Our Neck of the Woods

From Minnehaha Creek to Lake Superior—Minnesota’s great outdoors beckons

What are the odds of finding Minnesota’s tiniest orchid? Why take a Breathalyzer test to study frogs? How does ice fishing warm the heart? Who would live in such a cold, lean region? Our Neck of the Woods takes on these and other urgent (and sometimes quirky) questions, showcasing writers’ own experiences in the best-loved places in Minnesota, including the North Shore, Lake Bemidji, the western prairies and grasslands, the Boundary Waters, and the Mesabi Iron Range.

In a sense, Our Neck of the Woods is a wonderful series of love letters to Minnesota’s natural landscape.

Looncommons: A Blog on Minnesota’s Environment

What are the odds of finding Minnesota’s tiniest orchid? Why take a Breathalyzer test to study frogs? How does ice fishing warm the heart? Who would live in such a cold, lean region? Our Neck of the Woods takes on these and other urgent (and sometimes quirky) questions, showcasing writers’ own experiences in the best-loved places in Minnesota, including the North Shore, Lake Bemidji, the western prairies and grasslands, the Boundary Waters, and the Mesabi Iron Range.

The outdoor experiences described here range from sweeping natural history observations to adventurous tales of coming-of–age camping and hunting trips. We follow notable writers and conservationists Sigurd F. Olson, Paul Gruchow, Bill Holm, Jan Zita Grover, Greg Breining, Laurie Allmann, and many others as they descend a frozen river toward Lake Superior, explore a crystalline palace at minus 20 degrees, and trace a family’s history along the Mississippi River. Writing on such themes as embracing winter, making camp, and finding wildness even amid development, these authors tell of hunting, fishing, birding, canoeing, and other great outdoor activities that help define what it means to be Minnesotan.

Drawn from the pages of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine—published by the Department of Natural Resources since 1940—these writings evoke a strong sense of place and suggest that the outdoor experiences we share with others come to mean the most to us. With rich observations and spirited tales, Our Neck of the Woods beckons Minnesotans to work, play, and explore in the natural places close to their homes and hearts.

Our Neck of the Woods

Daniel J. Philippon is associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He is the author of Conserving Words: How American Nature Writers Shaped the Environmental Movement. He lives in St. Paul.

Our Neck of the Woods

In a sense, Our Neck of the Woods is a wonderful series of love letters to Minnesota’s natural landscape.

Looncommons: A Blog on Minnesota’s Environment

This book brings the wilderness into focus, even amid the heart of the city.

Anne Thillen, Woodbury-South Maplewood Review

Fascinating, for armchair and hands-on naturalists alike.

Lavender

Our Neck of the Woods is an excellent introduction not only to the natural state of Minnesota, but also to many of the people who have made it their home.

Star Tribune

This book is ideal reading for the waiting room (much better than old magazines) or before bed and other quick read situations.

Community Reporter

You won’t always relate—if you are say, a prairie person like Holm, you might not long to see Sigurd Olson’s trapper’s cabin in the woods. But there is sure to be something to take you back to your own little island of reprieve, that place where you unabashedly sing at the top of your lungs.

Wilderness News Online

Our Neck of the Woods

UMP blog: Picturing Minnesota's wild places

9/23/2009
In his recent post to NYT's Happy Days blog, Tim Kreider quotes from James Salter's 1975 novel Light Years: “For whatever we do, even whatever we do not do prevents us from doing its opposite. Acts demolish their alternatives, that is the paradox." (Had he been writing today, Salter might have called this the Sliding Doors paradox.)
So it goes with books, as publishing is not a non-zero-sum game. Choose to do something one way, and you can't do it another way--at least, not until the second edition comes out. Thus have my thoughts been turning since I caught my first glimpse of this recently published collection of nature writing I edited.
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