Settled in the Wild: Notes from the Edge of Town

Settled in the Wild: Notes from the Edge of Town

Susan Hand Shetterly

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 1565126181

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Whether we live in cities, suburbs, or villages, we are encroaching on nature, and it in one way or another perseveres. Naturalist Susan Shetterly looks at how animals, humans, and plants share the land―observing her own neighborhood in rural Maine. She tells tales of the locals (humans, yes, but also snowshoe hares, raccoons, bobcats, turtles, salmon, ravens, hummingbirds, cormorants, sandpipers, and spring peepers). She expertly shows us how they all make their way in an ever-changing habitat.

In writing about a displaced garter snake, witnessing the paving of a beloved dirt road, trapping a cricket with her young son, rescuing a fledgling raven, or the town's joy at the return of the alewife migration, Shetterly issues warnings even as she pays tribute to the resilience that abounds. 

Like the works of Annie Dillard and Aldo Leopold, Settled in the Wild takes a magnifying glass to the wildness that surrounds us. With keen perception and wit, Shetterly offers us an education in nature, one that should inspire us to preserve it.

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culvert, to let the wind, shearing down the length of the snow-covered bay, blast our faces and tear through our coats and scarves. The world around us is stark and fierce, as if we had come into the heart of the Arctic. At night when storms shriek at the corners of our houses, the ice at the bay in the first light is a train wreck, a pile-up of white boxcars, a sprawl of icicle-dripping flatbeds. But on the next windless day, the tide comes in beneath the broken pieces, and the beautiful pale

People will crowd their boats along the long ledge where now the black ducks and an assortment of gulls, arctic and common terns, black-bellied plovers, and spotted sandpipers rest and preen midtide. In a world where land is money, and where our rural labor goes for cheap, what else do we have? I own an acre on the road, separate from the land where I live. I call it my catastrophe acre. Only a catastrophe will force me to sell it. A flock of turkeys owns it now. In summer, nuthatches nest in

quickly into the grass. They were fast and secretive, like mice. I sat down on the damp ground to watch them. A group of Canada geese stood in the distance like figures in a crèche. My presence had made them freeze. But the distance between us seemed acceptable to them—my sitting down, even more so—and they began to move among each other after a while, a small band of migrating birds. Around me the hidden sparrows called back and forth. When I stood up again, the geese took off with a lot of

that these tiny bright-colored nectar-drinking birds, each of whom weighs only a few grams—about the weight of four or five of these seeds—have already whirred in erratic flocks across five hundred miles of open water, running the Gulf of Mexico in a twenty-six-hour heat. Hummers do exactly what physiologists once insisted they could not do. A bird that weighs so little, they argued, cannot go from the Yucatán to the mouth of the Big Muddy without a refueling stop. Such a dot of a bird cannot

that these tiny bright-colored nectar-drinking birds, each of whom weighs only a few grams—about the weight of four or five of these seeds—have already whirred in erratic flocks across five hundred miles of open water, running the Gulf of Mexico in a twenty-six-hour heat. Hummers do exactly what physiologists once insisted they could not do. A bird that weighs so little, they argued, cannot go from the Yucatán to the mouth of the Big Muddy without a refueling stop. Such a dot of a bird cannot

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