Reading the Mountains of Home

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9780674748897: Reading the Mountains of Home

Small farms once occupied the heights that John Elder calls home, but now only a few cellar holes and tumbled stone walls remain among the dense stands of maple, beech, and hemlocks on these Vermont hills. Reading the Mountains of Homeis a journey into these verdant reaches where in the last century humans tried their hand and where bear and moose now find shelter. As John Elder is our guide, so Robert Frost is Elder's companion, his great poem "Directive" seeing us through a landscape in which nature and literature, loss and recovery, are inextricably joined.

Over the course of a year, Elder takes us on his hikes through the forested uplands between South Mountain and North Mountain, reflecting on the forces of nature, from the descent of the glaciers to the rush of the New Haven River, that shaped a plateau for his village of Bristol; and on the human will that denuded and farmed and abandoned the mountains so many years ago. His forays wind through the flinty relics of nineteenth-century homesteads and Abenaki settlements, leading to meditations on both human failure and the possibility for deeper communion with the land and others.

An exploration of the body and soul of a place, an interpretive map of its natural and literary life, Reading the Mountains of Home strikes a moving balance between the pressures of civilization and the attraction of wilderness. It is a beautiful work of nature writing in which human nature finds its place, where the reader is invited to follow the last line of Frost's "Directive," to "Drink and be whole again beyond confusion."

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Review:

Late in life, the American novelist and conservationist Wallace Stegner left California, where he had lived for half a century, to move to Vermont. The reason, he said, was simple: there is more wilderness to be found in the pine forests of western New England than in the Far West. John Elder supports Stegner's claim, writing in Reading the Mountains of Home that the abandoned farmsteads of so many of Robert Frost's Vermont poems have now reverted to wild lands, dense with fallen logs and snags, full of bird and animal life.

A longtime resident of the state, Elder uses Frost's great but little-known poem "Directive" as a touchstone by which to guide his discussion of how modern humans can truly inhabit a landscape--in this case, a landscape that had been developed for generations and then all but forgotten. In such places, Elder writes, the issue is not one of wilderness versus civilization, that old trope, but the wildness that endures at the edges of settled places, wildness that is accessible to people all around the world. His celebration of returning greenness, of the forest's seasons, and of his own life in the woods makes for engaging reading indeed. --Gregory McNamee

From the Back Cover:

What a grand book this is! It's too full of life to be confined to a genre-it's memoir, natural history, and literary criticism, but it's also much more than the sum of its parts. Reading the Mountains of Home is one of the great classics of the American East.-Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

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Book Description HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. A jouney into the Vermont hills, where in the 19th century humans tried their hand, and where bear and moose now find shelter. Robert Frost s poem Directive accompanies the text, and sees the reader through a landscape in which nature and literature, loss and recovery, are inextricably joined. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780674748897

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Book Description HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.A jouney into the Vermont hills, where in the 19th century humans tried their hand, and where bear and moose now find shelter. Robert Frost s poem Directive accompanies the text, and sees the reader through a landscape in which nature and literature, loss and recovery, are inextricably joined. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780674748897

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Book Description Harvard University Press. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 272 pages. Dimensions: 8.2in. x 5.6in. x 0.8in.Small farms once occupied the heights that John Elder calls home, but now only a few cellar holes and tumbled stone walls remain among the dense stands of maple, beech, and hemlocks on these Vermont hills. Reading the Mountains of Homeis a journey into these verdant reaches where in the last century humans tried their hand and where bear and moose now find shelter. As John Elder is our guide, so Robert Frost is Elders companion, his great poem Directive seeing us through a landscape in which nature and literature, loss and recovery, are inextricably joined. Over the course of a year, Elder takes us on his hikes through the forested uplands between South Mountain and North Mountain, reflecting on the forces of nature, from the descent of the glaciers to the rush of the New Haven River, that shaped a plateau for his village of Bristol; and on the human will that denuded and farmed and abandoned the mountains so many years ago. His forays wind through the flinty relics of nineteenth-century homesteads and Abenaki settlements, leading to meditations on both human failure and the possibility for deeper communion with the land and others. An exploration of the body and soul of a place, an interpretive map of its natural and literary life, Reading the Mountains of Home strikes a moving balance between the pressures of civilization and the attraction of wilderness. It is a beautiful work of nature writing in which human nature finds its place, where the reader is invited to follow the last line of Frosts Directive, to Drink and be whole again beyond confusion. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780674748897

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