By Ben Gruber
Well, it is here: the long home stretch of Wisconsin winter. The short days begin to get a little depressing. The sun has not made an appearance in at least a month I think. On top of that, I have been sick twice now in the past month. I have not really even done anything outdoors to write about, which leaves me feeling a little guilty.
Do not distress though. After some hard thought, I did come up with some good stuff to share for this time of year. It is time to take a venison roast out of the freezer, let it slow-cook all day, enjoy the delectable smell, and curl up with a good book. Here are some recommendations and reviews for good winter reads, all outdoors-related.
“Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv is masterpiece and a very deep read. This book brings to light growing research connecting a multitude of issues facing children — and adults — today with a lack of a connection with nature. I consider it a must read for parents, educators, and really anyone concerned about the future of our world.
We have a long, strong history of great conservationists here in Wisconsin, and you are missing out if you do not read some of their works. “A Sand County Almanac,” written by Aldo Leopold at his summer cabin on the banks of the Wisconsin River, is one of the best and most well known. I was recently turned on to another Wisconsin writer: Mel Ellis. He was an outdoors writer, and “Notes from Little Lakes” is a great collection of essays and stories collected from his works. He has a few other great books too.
You may have seen the movie based on “A River Runs Through It” by Norman Maclean, but I assure you the novel is a great read too. It is a story that combines family and a love of fly fishing in Montana.
Another personal favorite of mine is “The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America” by Timothy Eagan. This book chronicles the beginning of the US Forest Service, the smoke jumpers, and Teddy Roosevelt’s dedication to conservation.
“One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey” by Sam Keith is taken from the journals and photos of Richard Proenneke. At age 50, Proenneke retired from his job and moved, alone, to an off-grid hunting cabin in remote Alaskan wilderness, where he spent the next 30 years living off of the land.
There are certainly many, many more greats reads out there. It is a wonderful time of year to settle in with a good book about the outdoors and maybe learn something about the early conservation efforts that came before us. Perhaps gain some insight about why it is so important to get our children outdoors. The local library is a great place to start on a gloomy winter day.
Also, Feb. 7 is the next meeting of the MarshPoint chapter of Kids and Mentors Outdoors. We need some mentors to introduce local children to the outdoors. The commitment level is low, and you help out when you can. Give me a shout for more information.
Ben Gruber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.