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In the farthest wilds of northeastern Minnesota, back in the Gunflint Range, the author of this book and her artist-husband have a two-room cabin home in the bush country. Beginning one Christmas Day when they first watched the starving deer they later named Peter, the Hoovers had many opportunities, a passionate inclination, and the nature skills to observe this whitetail buck--joined later by his mate, and finally by several of their offspring--through the changing seasons of four years. Close as their relationship was to the generations of beautiful animals, the Hoovers did not consider them pets but fellow inhabitants of that wild country. Their observations reveal the rewards of living close to wild creatures; but more than that, they add valuable information to our knowledge of the cycle of life of the deer and other creatures native to the same world. For although the deer are the chief characters of this book, they are by no means the only wild creatures Mrs. Hoover writes of. Her naturalist's eye is just as sharp and her affection just as great for the antics of a curious chickadee or a flying squirrel. Mrs. Hoover's identification with nature knows no favoritism. The Hoovers' world--the bush country of the United States-Canadian border--is farther removed from civilization than "Mr. Emerson's woodlot," but the close relationship of The Gift of the Deer to Walden is evident for all to enjoy. Adrian Hoover's drawings are from life, and they add another level of understanding to his wife's vivid prose.
On Christmas Eve an emaciated deer stumbled into Helen Hoover's yard in remote northern Minnesota. She nursed the buck back to health, embarking on a four year journey where she and her artist husband shared their lives with a heard of wild deer in a remote wilderness setting.
Helen Hoover and her husband, Adrian, were trailblazers in the American back-to-the-land movement. Well ensconced in their professional lives in Chicago, they made the decision to follow their dream of a simple existence, pulling up their stakes and plunging into the wilds of northern Minnesota. A Place in the Woods, first published in 1969, describes how the Hoovers gradually adapted to the rigors of wilderness survival. This book relates events that occurred prior to those Hoover writes about in her bestselling Gift of the Deer. This is a tale of starting out, of the pitfalls of beginning a new life-one punctuated by near disasters but also by moments of rare beauty.
From the book: What does it really mean, what does it really entail day by day, to give up urban comforts for the deeper delights of wilderness living? One day, shortly after Helen and Adrian Hoover first fled city life to make a home for themselves in a remote cabin in the Minnesota woods, Ade scribbled a casual list (the last item then seemed almost a whimsical joke) of Things to Do: clear brush, install wiring, Clear paths, put in running water, clear trash, inside toilet, remodel icehouse, clear small cabin, Build dock, Cut wood, Lay hardwood floor, get another car, fix roof, make a living, Finish inside, Take a vacation. it was a random enough list. It didn't even include such matters as Food, Telephone (of course there was none in the isolated cabin). Other books by Helen Hoover are available from Bookshare.
This is a book that takes us inside the Hoovers' wilderness home during those sixteen Years of the Forest and lets us experience not only the joys and the techniques but also the challenges and travails of going it alone in the beautiful but not always accommodating wilderness, far from the technology and services that city people take for granted. It is a book of wilderness adventure, it is an education in the ingenuities of wilderness housekeeping, filled with practical details about making do, building and rebuilding, gardening for fun and for food, even advice about getting away from getting-away-from-it-all. Good times and Hard times, good neighbors and bad neighbors, the strains engendered by conflicting views--and passions--about the use of the environment: Mrs. Hoover shares her experience without stint. But above all--over, under, and all around her straightforward and practical approach to life in the wilderness--there is, as always, the sensitive and moving awareness of nature (especially of the animals with whom she and her husband shared the forest, often helping them through starving winters) that is the special quality of her writing and her life.
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