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Ceremonial Time: Fifteen Thousand Years on One Square Mile Paperback – March 4, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0201149371 ISBN-10: 0201149370 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; First Edition edition (March 4, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201149370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201149371
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,668,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Astonishing immediacy . . . as though Sherlock Holmes had set out to verify Grey’s musings in his country churchyard. . . . An unqualified success . . . I can think of no book that provides so personal and yet so comprehensive a view of America, past, present, and potentially, future.”—New York Times Book Review

About the Author

JOHN HANSON MITCHELL, winner of the 1994 John Burroughs Essay Award, is the author of numerous books. Ceremonial Time is the first in a series of titles in the Scratch Flat Chronicles. His newest book is An Eden of Sorts: A Natural History of My Feral Garden.

More About the Author

John Hanson Mitchell's earlier work is focused on a square mile tract of land known as Scratch Flat, located about thirty-five miles north-west of Boston. Mitchell has used this anomalous landscape of rolling hills, farms, forests and encroaching suburbs to explore his continuing interest in natural and human history and the whole question of place in human cultures,both native and European. Best known of this series of books is the first, Ceremonial Time:Fifteen Thousand Years on One Square Mile.

Later books explore the relationship between culture, nature, and place. These works deal with such disparate subjects as the relationship between Italian gardens and the American wilderness and the role of the sun in various cultures, outlined in the book Following the Sun, a 1500 mile bicycle journey he made from Cadiz in Spain, north to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. His latest book, The Paradise of all These Parts, is a natural history of the little peninsula that became the city of Boston.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Corinne H. Smith VINE VOICE on July 2, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mitchell goes far beyond "reading the landscape" of his town. He analyzes the history, anthropology, architecture, agriculture, geology, botany, and zoology of an area northwest of Littleton, Massachusetts, called "Scratch Flat." As if that's not enough, he goes one step further by investigating and uncovering the ancestral *spirit* of the place. This book is an easy, enlightening read that will not only have you looking differently at your own neighborhood but also contemplating our traditional notions of time. "[W]e are the future of the past, and the past of the future." (p. 200) Certainly food for thought.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Mchenry on July 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
How much do you want to believe? It's up to you. If you have no interest in Indian folk stories, spirits, ghosts, paranormal encounters and fantasy, then pass this book on by. If you want to walk into the woods and fall under the enchantment of the spirits and critters that dwell there, present and past, then this is the book for you. Have you ever walked alone in the woods, and had a feeling that something else was there? What was it? That is the topic of this book.

There is another level of this book that works so well for me, and that is the author's keen interest in other people's stories. He does this in his other books as well, in that he observes and talks to everyone and anyone, with a genuine interest in their lives. We could learn a lesson here....most people have an interesting story to tell, if we search for it. If we just lose interest in ourselves for a bit, if we learn to see other people as potential friends, we could enrich our lives. I find this refreshing in our era of self-indulgent memoirs.

And that grey-haired gentleman over there in the woods, clearly not sticking to the path...the one crouching down examining something on the ground or making snorting monkey sounds? The one staring up at the trees, imitating the bird songs? Who is that? Well, it's John Hanson Mitchell. And he's willing to talk to you, and share his find.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By guy richardson on August 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
OK, here's how good this book is -- I bought it and read it, then lost it. So I bought it *again.* It's a lovely book about the ancestry of a piece of land. The writing compares well with Annie Dillard's. Yep, that good.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Anderson on July 4, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have lifted whole lecture topics from this book, and passed on copies to numerous students and friends. The idea is lovely -write an ecology based on an intimate history of one square mile of land-and Mitchell delivers it up in excellent prose that keeps one reading even when the material turns a tad dry. Why only 4 stars? I am not sure if this book will have "legs" beyond the landscape and history that it celebrates. It would be great to have a few more Mitchells do something similar to the westward and southward, so that we could expand our perceptions beyond the deliberate confines that the author has set. For those of us within a day's drive however, this is definitely a book to read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Like Thoreau, Mitchell has travelled widely by walking within a short distance of home. Many of us are able to walk, few are able to see as acutely or reflect as profoundly on what we have seen. This book is not merely a pleasure to read, it lingers in the mind long after the final page.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Craig Chalquist, PhD, author of TERRAPSYCHOLOGY and DEEP CALIFORNIA on August 22, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
....is what the author shows you throughout this highly readable tale of Scratch Flat, a mile-square locale near Concord. The history of its geography, botany, and inhabitants unfolds here in lucid prose devoid of technical jargon. For the ecopsychology course I'm putting together I plan to make this book required reading.
A recommendation: the word "primitive" ought to be removed from future editions when used in reference to American Indians. Many regard it as derogatory, and even white readers may well wonder who is more primitive: those who inhabit the land with care or those who kill its inhabitants and "develop" it out of existence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mackenzie on June 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
A "must read" for anyone living close to the land. I appreciated the author's understanding that we and our environs exist not just 2- or 3- dimensions, but rather four with time being the missing feature in most people's thinking about the land and landscapes. It should be noted, however, that I live in the region and can relate to the local setting and features Mitchell describes.
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