-The New York Times Rook Review
Torrey House Press, 2015
An impressionistic odyssey through the rich beauty of America’s forest wilderness captures the meaning of these last wild places, sharing interviews with men and women whose lives have become intertwined with the soul of America’s woodlands.
“Sometime in the tar black of last night Cirrus sneaked over the lip of the east horizon for the first time this year, and with a tiny blink of white light, ushered in the dog days of summer. It will be hot today. Over ninety. Grainy clouds of flies and mosquitoes are already pushing through the forest, driving moose onto roadways and into water up to their necks, setting the ears of whitetails to a crazy twitching, as if something was short-circuiting inside. At an old tie bridge I watch the Dead River ease south in the dawn light without a whisper; it gathers up the springs and creeks gently, the way a person collects blackberries at the end of the picking season, handling the overripe fruit with exaggerated care, trying hard not to bruise it.”
Come along on an intimate journey through the last great forests in America—by trail and canoe, by back road and blue highway. Along the way you’ll meet an amazing collection of people, their lives still firmly wed to the woods: plant healers and mountaineers in the hollers of Appalachia, guides in the far reaches of Maine, Ojibway story tellers on the north shore of Lake Superior. These enchanting places, this unforgettable cast of characters, onery and thoughtful and freewheeling, can rekindle an almost forgotten brand of nature appreciation – a grass-roots, blue-collar kind of passion which was for a time the very backbone of American literature and mythology. Saving what’s left of the American outback, Ferguson maintains, may well depend on reviving this common, wild heart of our founding, the times when nature and patriotism and religion were bound together as one.
“Whether he’s laying down to watch a sundew plant entrap an insect or paddling out into the middle of a lake to exchange yodeling calls with a pair of loons, Ferguson exudes a delighted, boyish enthusiasm. By the end, you may find you’ve been seduced from the buzz and clutter of your life and won over to the ‘certain old brand of quiet’ he set out to find.”
—New York Times
“Prose as inviting and uplifting as a walk in the woods. With a sense of discovery, humor, and a deep reverence for his subject, Ferguson reclaims the natural world for himself, and for the reader as well.”
“These woodland interludes are quick and bright, dazzling amid the bosky gloom. Writing so powerful that it’s hard not to share the author’s delight to be back in the woods.”
—Kirkus (starred review)