Summer’s Song And Other Essays / Don L. Johnson

What an unexpected treasure this book of essays turned out to be.  Sent to me as a gift for renewing my membership to a Wisconsin conservation organization, I had no knowledge of Johnson’s writing beforehand.  He was an outdoor writer and columnist for the Milwaukee Sentinel from 1962 until his retirement in the 1990s.  The essays presented here are drawn from pieces he wrote from 1962 to 1991 regarding his rural home in southeastern Wisconsin.  Organized by season, Johnson explores his home’s landscape to bring to life the varied wildlife and flora found outside his front door.  He is a font of knowledge regarding the plants and creatures he encounters on his daily exploration with a trusty dog by his side.  His brief vignettes are poetic masterpieces.  Taking the reader along on his strolls through the area’s highland and marshes, he reveals the splendor that awaits the curious when daring to step off the beaten path.  These essays are meant to be carefully read and savored.  I came away impressed by Johnson’s encyclopedic knowledge and with a deeper appreciation of the diversity of life to be found in rural Wisconsin.  His writing imparts the importance of simply stopping to listen and observe the beauty that awaits us outside any city’s boundary.  This jewel of a book deserves greater recognition.  Most who make the effort to track it down will cherish it as much as I do.

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