A Journey Into the Heart of a Season
By Pete Dunne
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618822201, 288pp.)
Publication Date: March 2009
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A portrait of spring in the heartland of North America In this first of four seasonal narratives, Pete Dunne sends a postcard from the prairie in his characteristically puckish style.The prairie is an exciting place to explore an unfolding dramaman versus the environmentand as Dunne and his wife travel through the heartland, the fleeting nature of the season comes to symbolize the precarious balance between the two. At the Sandhill Crane Festival in Nebraska,Dunne observes the struggle between maintaining the cranes’ habitat and meeting farmers’ needs for water. As in other habitats, human encroachment is only one of the challenges facing the preservation of the Pawnee National Grassland in Colorado.
Climate change, invasive plants and animals, and mineral exploitation are just a few of the others. Conflicts over the grassland habitat continue between ranchers and prairie dogs and between oil companies and prairie chickens. Yet Dunne finds affirmation on the prairie: people putting their lives back in place after a tornado; volunteers giving their time to conservation efforts; the drive of all species to move their genes to the next generation, which manifests itself so abundantly on the prairie in spring.
PETE DUNNE is the author of many books, including Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion, Pete Dunne on Bird Watching, and most recently Prairie Spring, the first in a four-book series on the seasons. He is the vice president of the New Jersey Audubon Society and director of its Cape May Bird Observatory.