Beyond Walden: The Hidden History of America's Kettle Lakes and Ponds

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9780802716453: Beyond Walden: The Hidden History of America's Kettle Lakes and Ponds

The geology, ecology, and cultural history of kettle lakes from Maine to Montana.

Lakes are a beloved part of the American landscape, and kettles are the most common type, spanning the northern part of the country from New England to the High Plains. Kettle lakes are depressions formed by meltdown of glacial ice and filled with freshwater. Unlike other kinds of lakes that have significant inlet or outlet streams, kettle lakes are natural wells tapping the groundwater table.

A source of joyful relaxation and recreation for generations, kettle lakes also have historical and cultural significance. Within a few years of the 1836 publication of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature, a pivotal book combining nature with spirituality and religion, H enry David Thoreau had permanently linked Walden Pond―America's most famous kettle lake―to the Transcendentalist movement.

Each kettle lake tells a story, and in Robert Thorson's hands their collective saga―and the threats to their health―give us crucial insight into the dangers facing our vulnerable freshwater ecosystem.

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About the Author:

Robert M. Thorson is a professor of geology at the University of Connecticut and an environmental columnist for the Hartford Courant. The author of Stone by Stone and Exploring Stone Walls, he lives in Storrs, Connecticut.

Review:

“Kettle lakes are natural wells refreshed from deep groundwater filtered through grit-free sand, all formed more than 10,000 years ago when glaciers retreated and isolated slabs of ice melted...The author’s enthusiasm shines through as he uses personal experience, literary references and the history of American popular culture―“going up to the lake” for the summer generally meant a kettle lake―to illustrate this lively chronicle of a hitherto obscure environmental feature. A rich, exhaustive account of one of America’s threatened ecological jewels.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“This book will be delightful reading for anyone who heads ‘to the lake' every summer. (It belongs on the cottage bookshelf next to the frayed copy of the Peterson bird book and the local trail guide.) Thorson writes with intelligence and pleasure, and you will come away understanding your place in a new way.” ―Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

Beyond Walden should be required reading for all lakefront property owners, other lake users, and those who manage our land and water resources. Robert Thorson takes the reader on a ten-thousand-year stroll through the geological, chemical, and biological history of kettle lakes, weaving in enough human cultural ties to make for great reading, preferably by your favorite lake.” ―Kenneth J. Wagner, Ph.D., past president of the North American Lake Management Society

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