Loose on the Landscape by Joel Everett Harding

Loose on the Landscape: An Ecologist Looks for Meaning in the Wildest Places by Joel Everett Harding
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Alt="Loose on the Landscape"Loose on the Landscape: An Ecologist Looks for Meaning in the Wildest Places by Joel Everett Harding 

Ever wonder what it’s like alone at midnight in the depths of a vast marsh, or thought of stumbling into a roiling geyser field in the dark? What happens when you get swept along for miles in a flooded river without an exit—or explore a prehistoric swamp with predators left over from the Cretaceous? How can you sense an Amazon rainforest breathing. Have you watched a great ancient waterfall cease forever in less than a day? Does the Jersey Devil still inhabit the pine barrens?

Let the author take you on these and many other outdoor adventures and ecological investigations. Written in a creative nonfiction style (reads like a novel) a professional ecologist, looks for meaning in the wildest places, and shows us a range of perspectives for appreciating the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of immersing ourselves in wild landscapes. He brings needed context by examining the causes-and-effects of ever-changing environments, and brings us along as he restores damaged streams, rivers and wetlands. His poetic descriptions and insights show us how landscapes inspire perceptions of beauty, art, and increased personal well-being that underlie our innate connections with nature. Along the way, the author immerses the reader into his landscapes with keen-eyed observations that underlie our innate personal connections with nature. He shows how we gain insights and increased well-being when we go afield to explore. As he says, “Sometimes nothing is more important than going off into the woods and contemplating the frog chorus of a vernal pool.”

Book Review

Loose on the Landscape: An Ecologist Looks for Meaning is reminiscent of Henry Thoreau’s work—it’s beautifully moving, poignant in its descriptions, and makes a soul ache for a walk through the woods.

Loose on the Landscape: An Ecologist Looks for Meaning opens with a beautifully depicted series of drawings that create an immediate sense of nostalgia and awe for the diversity of each ecosystem in the United States.  Whether the drawing rendered is of a fishing vest, a pair of hiking boots, or a trailer, each is depicted with such love and attention to detail that the reader will feel they’re about to engage in a hike with the author. As the reader moves deeper into the text, they’ll soon realize this is part of the author’s magically woven web he’s created—each chapter begins with a beautifully crafted piece to lure the reader in.  His words then contribute to this lullaby with his vivid descriptions of the mystical places he’s traveled.  While some people may say, “I went for a hike in the woods,” Joel’s deep understanding of the flora and fauna combined with his natural curiosity and deep appreciation of the world around him paints such an artful depiction of each location throughout this book that every sensory image is engaged and evoked.

Joel’s many journeys—whether it be staying in a summer home along the Susquehanna River with his newborn son and wife or using native stones in a process called eco-engineering, teach the reader how to look at the world through Joel’s eyes.  He artfully describes the science behind each topic at hand and gives readers insight into the world he sees as a scientist.  I learned so much throughout this book even about topics I thought I already understood. For example, in Chapter 3. I learned that goldfinches’ coats change color from vibrant yellow to a tawny brown for the winter. Joel’s descriptions show the reader how to see nature differently, and thus, perhaps appreciate it more as well.  Joel’s given us one of many gifts with this book—his experiences are so varied that there is something in this book for everyone.  He covers such a wide array of topics that readers will walk away feeling as if they’ve traveled the world.

Loose on the Landscape: An Ecologist Looks for Meaning in the Wildest Places by Joel Everett Harding is a work of art and of heart.  Joel’s travels are a gift to us all as are his beautiful words and artwork.  Readers of any kind will find themselves picking this book up again and again.  It’s a soul book I think –it’ll bypass your mind, give your heart a hug and snuggle up with your soul for a very long time.  I can’t recommend it highly enough. Book read and reviewed by Mary Rosenthal for Chick Lit Café top reading recommendation’s, book review and marketing for author success.

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Joel Everett Harding is the pen name of a professional field ecologist who has spent decades exploring the wild places nature offers us. His personal adventures and scientific investigations have taken him to landscapes throughout North America and elsewhere. He enjoys “collecting” ecosystem and wild environment experiences of all sizes, from puddles to rainforests and everything in-between.

The author’s thirty-plus years as a field ecologist are based on his professional credentials in a variety of scientific fields, including landscape and ecosystem ecology, wildlife biology, animal and human behavior, and habitat restoration using bioengineering techniques. He has served as a scientist to private industry, federal, state and local governments, and nonprofit organizations.

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