Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – A Book Review

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Where the Crawdads Sing is a fast-paced, potent, concise book that has a little bit of everything which will likely satisfy any reader.

The story centers around Kya, a young girl growing up alone in the marshes of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. When I say alone–I mean alone. Everyone has abandoned her–her mother, father, brothers, sisters, people in the nearby town–everyone. This forces her to fend for herself in a primitive shack that has neither indoor plumbing nor electricity. Though initially a child, and despite lacking any formal education, she learns to observe nature’s lessons, and that becomes the key to her survival into adulthood. Unfortunately, though the town completely shuns her, its sins will not leave her alone and she is eventually accused of murder.

Where the Crawdads Sing accomplishes so much in such a short amount of time. It delves deeply into issues of domestic abuse, abandonment, discrimination, elitism, and hypocrisy.

However, it is also a love letter to nature as it beautifully describes the vibrant activities occurring in areas most people deem uncivilized. Owens’ writing is compressed, but extremely effective. She will make you feel like you’re living in the marsh, coexisting with nature, right by Kya’s side.

Furthermore, there is a captivating murder mystery present in this book as well. Though it may sound out of place, it’s not. Owens weaves the murder mystery into the overall plot perfectly. It never feels forced nor contrived. Between Kya’s story, the murder mystery, and the convergence of the two, I couldn’t put this book down.

No matter what your taste, I highly recommend Where the Crawdad’s Sing. I believe anyone who enjoys fiction will like this book.

Looking For a Local Hike? Try Merwin Nature Preserve In Central Illinois

If you’re looking for a fairly easy hike you can do in well under two hours, give the Merwin Nature Preserve a try.

My friend, Troy Marcy, recommended Merwin Nature Preserve to us after I asked him to suggest a few local hiking trails. Troy is an incredible nature photographer, so he knows all the best spots in our neck of the woods.

We’re not avid hikers, and we have two young daughters, so we weren’t looking for a day-long hike or a hike that would leave us exhausted. Merwin Nature Preserve proved perfect because while it had one uphill spot that got us breathing hard, it was otherwise a pretty simple hike with ample diversity.

For example, during our hike, we encountered prairie land, deep woods, a riverbank, several streams, and an overlook of the Mackinaw River. Best of all, we experienced all of this in just a few hours. Keep in mind that we stopped quite a bit to look at minnows, roots, tadpoles, wildflowers, and and impressive view of the river. I’m sure if someone moved at a fast pace and didn’t stop, they could hike the trail in around forty minutes.

Be aware, though, that there is quite a bit of poison ivy. We all wore hiking boots and pulled our socks up, so we were fine, but it’s definitely there from start to finish. Furthermore, the trail became so narrow and overgrown at times that I started to wonder if we somehow got onto a deer path. However, for the most part, the trail is clear and easy to follow.

If you refer to the picture below, we parked at the West Gate and hiked the trail with the nineteen station markers. We printed off the information specific to each station marker ahead of time because their website stated cell service is spotty in that area. As we came to each marker, we read what was special about that particular area. You can find all the material to print by clicking HERE.

If you’re looking for a quick hike with the kids, I highly recommend Merwin Nature Preserve. It’s got a little bit of everything that makes Central Illinois’ environment unique.

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The Singing Wilderness by Sigurd F. Olson – A Book Review

A friend recommended this book to me. We have a mutual admiration of Stephen King, and he knows I’m a writer, so I think he believed I’d appreciate Olson’s writing technique. My friend was most definitely correct!

The Singing Wilderness is a series of essays depicting the various seasons in northern Minnesota. Olson somehow finds a way to describe local animal life, lakes, forests, rivers, and insects in a dynamic, captivating, and unique way throughout the length of an entire book.

And while Olson’s style is brilliant, The Singing Wilderness spoke to me on a far deeper level than simply craft. Even though it debuted in 1956, his words and style transcend time. Reading this book isn’t like stepping into a time machine, though–it’s more like passing through a portal into the wilderness.

As Olson says, there is something in us that loves nature, that needs nature, that wants to coexist with nature. Until relatively recently, we didn’t just visit nature, we actually lived in it. The Singing Wilderness somehow captures that dynamic and makes our heart yearn for the sights and sounds that our ancestors experienced.

I’m no outdoorsman, but The Singing Wilderness inspired me to get outside. Not just my backyard, but local state parks and nature preserves. I’ve already developed a plan to visit several this summer with my wife and young daughters.  I feel confident the book will equally encourage you.

If you love nature or masterfully written sensory language, I highly recommend The Singing Wilderness. You can find a copy at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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