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 Reiger, conservation editor of Field & Stream (Wanderer on My Native Shore, 1983, etc.) offers a paean to life lived close to the land. In their early 30s, Reiger and his wife, Barbara, abandoned fast-track publishing careers in New York and Washington, D.C., to settle in a quiet backwater community of coastal Virginia. This graceful memoir is largely a response to his shocked urban colleagues who asked, ``How could you do it?'' As he and his wife restore their traditional Eastern Shore farmhouse and harvest, hunt, and fish on the 67 acres of their farm, Heron Hill (which they had purchased in 1970), he feels a growing sense of connection to the land and the people who live there. He relishes a full range of country life, from salvaging serendipitous roadkill to learning the lore of his ``born here'' neighbors. This account is dense with the detail of hedgerow planting, proper nesting-box placement, the merits of mummichogs (a kind of small fish) for bait and tree swallows for mosquito control. A close observer of nature, Reiger looks also at some of the larger lessons it has taught him: Living off the land instills self-reliance, which is the only access to wisdom; traditional gender roles are rooted in the natural world; pain is proportional to one's ability to survive. His theory of conservation is equally grounded in his farm experience. Save-the- whale rallies and rainforest fund-raisers are not for him. ``Real conservation is hands on, net gain, local habitat manipulation and species management. It's not about letting nature take its course.'' Reiger is the author of 15 books and hundreds of magazine articles, but this memoir suggests that his most satisfying creative act has been the stewardship of his own land. A deeply felt, immensely satisfying memoir.

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 1994
ISBN: 1-55821-296-5
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Lyons Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1994