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Review of Nature Notes from Maine

Ed Robinson
December 5, 2018

By Doyle Dietz

Published Dec. 2, 2018 in the Pottsville (Pa.) Republican Herald

These four books knock it out of the park with a grand slam of gift giving for Christmas or any occasion. From left to right are “The World Is Our Classroom: How One Family Used Nature and Travel to Shape an Extraordinary Education” by Cindy Ross, “The Fires Of Penn’s Woods” by Michael J. Klimkos, “Nature Notes from Maine: River Otters, Moose, Skunks & More” by Ed Robinson and “Turkey Men Volume 2” by Thomas R. Pero.

Leading off our annual column of book suggestions for Christmas or any holiday that are sure to enhance, entertain and education any outdoorsmen no matter if read in a deer blind, on a fishing boat, around a campfire, a backyard patio or a den is without question the most unique and most adventurous ever presented.

“The World Is Our Classroom: How One Family Used Nature and Travel to Shape an Extraordinary Education” by Cindy Ross of New Ringgold is the result of her spending a good portion of her life compiling the information and experiencing the adventures in the book. From the hiking trails of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary to the mountain peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the sun-baked shores of Sicily to the alligator-invested swamps of the Everglades every chapter of this book has the making of a Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel special.

Ross begins her story telling how she and husband, noted chainsaw sculptor Todd Gladfelter, led their then infant children 3,100 miles on the backs of llamas from Canada to Mexico. Inspired by the experience, they went on to create a new way of supplementing the education of their children Sierra and Bryce as teenagers into young adults by focusing the natural world and travel.

“The World Is Our Classroom” is published by Skyhorse at $23.99 for hardback copies, available at Amazon.com and is also available as an e-book.

“Turkey Men Volume 2” by Thomas R. Pero is the long-awaited follow-up to last year’s well received “Turkey Men Volume 1.” Like the first volume this book is comprised of interviews with turkey hunters who have accomplished the United States Grand Slam by taking spring gobblers in the 49 states they inhabit.

One of the interviews features Pennsylvania turkey-hunting legend Jon Pries of Trout Run, but in addition to the collection of conversations with the turkey hunters that sets this second volume apart from the is the complimentary compact disk audio recording included with the book. It was made at the famed professional recording studio Postal Recording in Indianapolis with contributions from Doc Weddle of Indiana and Dave Owens of Georgia.

Since the recording, Owens was named Grand National Turkey Calling Champion, Senior Division Open, at the 2018 National Wild Turkey Convention in Nashville. His casual conversation with Weddle was recorded entirely unscripted.

“Turkey Men Volume 2” is published by Wild River Press and hardcover copies can be ordered at www.wildriverpress.com at $49.95 for the standard edition and $149.95 for the autographed leather-bound limited edition.

“The Fires of Penn’s Woods” by Michael Klimkos is fascinating with its comprehensive history documenting wildfires in Pennsylvania that can be related to the recent television news coverage of the deadly fires in California. As volunteer fire fighter for 25 years and a member of wild land fire-fighting crews, Klimkos thoroughly researched and meticulously detailed in this book describes how the science of forestry, wildfire prevention and fire control has grown in Pennsylvania.

Looking back at the last 125 years the same kind of devastation as today’s fires was found in Pennsylvania, often because as the great forests of Pennsylvania were cleared, the slash and debris left by loggers was prone to burn — and it did. Huge fires once raged through the forest of Pennsylvania, including those located in Columbia, Northumberland and Schuylkill counties.

Early fires provided the impetus for the founding of the science of forestry and wildfire control in Pennsylvania. These fires impacted Pennsylvania and shaped what is today a sustainable forest that has regrown from the Great Pennsylvania Desert— the name given to the land that was left after industrial logging virtually cleared the state of its trees by the beginning of the Twentieth Century.

“The Fires of Penn’s Woods” is available in paperback at Amazon.com for $28.00 a copy.

“Nature Notes from Maine: River Otters, Moose, Skunks and More” by Ed Robinson is more a collection of observations of and encounters with wildlife that could well have occurred in Pennsylvania – OK, other than the chapter about the moose – as in Maine. And considering the fondness Pennsylvanians have for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and paddling in Maine, the book is a must read.

Published by the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust as a fund-raising endeavor, the book features many of Maine’s iconic creatures — including lobsters, loons, fishers and osprey. There are 60 photographs and 10 etchings that accompany each chapter, many of which are certain to bring back memories of personal wildlife encounters.

“Nature Notes from Maine” is available in paperback from Harpswell Heritage Land Trust at www.hhltmaine.org/nature-notes-from-maine for $20 a copy.

(Dietz is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association)