Journal of a Prairie

Journal of a Prairie Year

“An alertness permeates this enduring book.” —LOS ANGELES TIMES
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“The essential feature of the prairie is its horizon, which you can neither walk to nor touch.”

When there is no summit to reach nor farther shore to attain­­—only a constantly receding point between earth and sky to follow—a journey proceeds as much into one’s own mind as it does into the natural world. Sauntering through the tall grasses of the prairie, Paul Gruchow engages in just such a boundless journey, exploring simultaneously the subtle beauty of the Great Plains and the mind’s astonishment as such grandeur.

Charting one cycle of seasons, Journal of a Prairie Year reveals countless cycles of thought: the innumerable sounds of winter snow beg us to understand its song; the fecundity of spring questions the accuracy of naming its abundance; the tenacity of prairie roots in a summer drought contrast with the shallow roots of our culture; and the mortality of fall mirrors our steady destruction of a once seemingly infinite expanse.

The result is equal parts phenology and philosophy, a blend of natural and human history from a writer who “makes empty places full and a reader’s imagination soar” (Washington Post): calling us to remember a threatened world, and urging us to reach for its unmarred horizon.

Publish Date
5.5 × 8.5 × 0.44 in
7.6 oz

Praise and Prizes

  • “Paul Gruchow writes of the glare of moonlight on snow; of the impulse to name and possess things in the natural world; of prairie phlox, garter snakes, and the dust in the air that turns the sunlight crimson… . An alertness permeates this enduring book.”

    Los Angeles Times
  • “The testament of a man who simultaneously aches and rejoices over the land he calls home.”

    Scott Russell Sanders
    author of A Conservationist Manifesto
  • “As much as Journal of a Prairie Year is about the magnificence of the Midwest grasslands, Paul Gruchow’s book is also an invitation to learn about the self and how we, as individuals, fit into a much larger schematic of the world.”

    Cerise Press
  • “These philosophical essays about nature, charting one cycle of seasons, remind us again how much the late author’s graceful prose helped us understand ourselves and our landscape.”

    Pioneer Press