The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes

University of Michigan Press
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"Our country is lucky to have Jerry Dennis. A conservationist with the soul of a poet whose beat is Wild Michigan, Dennis is a kindred spirit of Aldo Leopold and Sigurd Olson. The Windward Shore---his newest effort---is a beautifully written and elegiac memoir of outdoor discovery. Highly recommended!"
---Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

"Come for a journey; stay for an awakening. Jerry Dennis loves the Great Lakes, the swell of every wave, the curve of every rock. He wants you to love them too before our collective trashing of them wipes out all traces of their original character. Through his eyes, you will treasure the hidden secrets that reveal themselves only to those who linger and long. Elegant and sad at the same time, The Windward Shore is a love song for the Great Lakes and a gentle call to action to save them."
---Maude Barlow, author of Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water

"In prose as clear as the lines in a Dürer etching, Jerry Dennis maps his home ground, which ranges outward from the back door of his farmhouse to encompass the region of vast inland seas at the heart of our continent. Along the way, inspired by the company of water in all its guises---ice, snow, frost, clouds, rain, shore-lapping waves---he meditates on the ancient questions about mind and matter, time and attention, wildness and wonder. As in the best American nature writing---a tradition that Dennis knows well---here the place and the explorer come together in brilliant conversation."
---Scott Russell Sanders, author of A Conservationist Manifesto

If you have been enchanted by Jerry Dennis’s earlier work on sailing the Great Lakes, canoeing, angling, and the natural wonders of water and sky—or you have not yet been lucky enough to enjoy his engaging prose—you will want to immerse yourself in his powerful and insightful new book on winter in Great Lakes country.

Grounded by a knee injury, Dennis learns to live at a slower pace while staying in houses ranging from a log cabin on Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Peninsula to a $20 million mansion on the northern shore of Lake Michigan. While walking on beaches and exploring nearby woods and villages, he muses on the nature of time, weather, waves, agates, books, words for snow and ice, our complex relationship with nature, and much more.

From the introduction: “I wanted to present a true picture of a complex region, part of my continuing project to learn at least one place on earth reasonably well, and trusted that it would appear gradually and accumulatively—and not as a conventional portrait, but as a mosaic that included the sounds and scents and textures of the place and some of the plants, animals, and its inhabitants. Bolstered by the notion that a book is a journey that author and reader walk together, I would search for promising trails and follow them as far as my reconstructed knee would allow.”

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About the author

Jerry Dennis is the author of many literary and popular works about nature, science, and outdoor recreation. His essays and stories in The New York Times, Smithsonian, Audubon, National Geographic Traveler, Gray’s Sporting Journal, and many other publications have won numerous awards and are frequently anthologized. His books are widely acclaimed and have been translated into German, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and Czech. In 1999 the Michigan Library Association named Dennis the Michigan Author of the Year. He and his wife, Gail, live near the shore of Lake Michigan not far from Traverse City.

www.jerrydennis.net

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Michigan Press
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Published on
Oct 7, 2011
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Pages
168
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ISBN
9780472028252
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Nature / Essays
Nature / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In this remarkable collection of essays and stories, winner of the Best Book of the Year Award from the Outdoor Writers Association of America, Jerry Dennis demonstrates why he has emerged as one of America's finest writers on nature and the outdoors. In prose that has drawn comparisons with John Voelker, Sigurd Olson, and Aldo Leopold, Dennis celebrates the simple pleasures and complex challenges of family life, the allure of giant trout, the sacredness of secret places, and such wonders as bad weather, quirky fishing companions, and the occasional naked angler. Ranging from northern Michigan to Iceland, Chile, and the fabled rivers of the American West, The River Home is a passionate record of a life lived fully, crafted with clarity, insight, and good humor—by a writer gifted with an instinct for what matters. 

PRAISE:

"This bright and sharply written book is a guide to a life lived consciously, a prerequisite and bonus of the sport done well." —Lisa Faye Kaplan, USA Today

“Collections of essays about the outdoors and fishing crowd the shelves, but Dennis’s fresh writing and marvelous insights merit special attention. This fine collection will appeal to fans of Hal Borland, W.D. Wetherell, and Nick Lyons, as well as to those who enjoy the essays of fiction writers William Tapply and Thomas McGuane.” —Booklist

“Even if you’ve never pulled on a pair of waders, you should read this funny and wise book about fly fishing – and a lot more.” —Georgia Times-Union

“In this book, Dennis elevates the typical ‘outdoor’ essay, usually a mere recollection of adventures while hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, or pursuing other outdoor activities. He has transcended the typical by blending in elements of ‘nature’ writing: observation, research, speculation about the world in which the sportsman places himself.” —The Oakland Press

In these acclaimed essays, Jerry Dennis, widely recognized as one of our finest writers on nature and the outdoors, turns his attention to old passions and finds new reasons to appreciate them. This engaging collection explores the quintessential American sports of canoeing and camping and pays tribute to the things worth keeping, from wooden canoes and pocket knives to cast-iron skillets, long-johns, canvas tents, and fine moments on the water. At a deeper level, it is about respect—for our possessions, for the natural world, for one another—and about the pleasures of a life well spent.

From a Wooden Canoe is a celebration of the good things and the simple pleasures of life outdoors. It is a book to be treasured, to be read on winter evenings and rainy afternoons, and to be kept handy on a cabin shelf.

PRAISE:
“Jerry Dennis knows the good stuff: How to make your matches waterproof; why it’s good to have a Thermos handy; and how long johns got their name. Mr. Dennis also knows how to write amusing, informative essays about the gear we use outdoors. From a Wooden Canoe is the most satisfying kind of nature writing because it makes you want to get up and get out. Give these essays a good read, and then find your own canoe.” —Wall Street Journal

“As Jerry Dennis’s recent book, From a Wooden Canoe, attests, canoes do inspire passion and fidelity. The thirty-one pieces here—most of them from the pages of Canoe and Kayak magazine—include tender odes to hand-hewn wooden paddlers and the rough work of portaging, as well as reflections on other old-school outdoor stuff: homemade waterproof matches, the smell of canvas, and the mysterious, indestructible thermos.” —The New Yorker

“Dennis writes concise, well-informed, witty prose; his tone is friendly and appreciative of tradition without being maudlin. The celebratory tone of most of the essays is nicely tempered by a send-up of curmudgeons and a concluding essay that might have come from O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night. Recommend this fine example of literary outdoors writing to fans of Bill Barich and W.D. Wetherell.” —Booklist
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