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A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters, and Wildlife Hardcover – January 15, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 1 edition (January 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161608863X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616088637
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,023,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Lea, Vermont’s poet laureate, has crafted a series of essays on the people and places of his rural northern environment that will appeal deeply to those who love or admire New England and can appreciate the quiet life so often exemplified in Yankee magazine. Using the seasons of the year as a framework and including a series of short, one-page “daybook” entries, this is primarily a collection of reminiscences about friends and mentors and good times gone by. Lea is a waterman and hunter, deeply in tune with his surroundings and clearly indebted to the people he writes about. The author’s literary expertise shines through in a passage where bass fishing reminds him of an Elizabeth Bishop poem, but as much as his essays are about quail and dogs and logging, Lea reaches beyond regionalism to a purely American experience. There is a soulful quality to his words and a strong conviction that a connected life is one to be admired and emulated. A cross between Thoreau and David James Duncan, Lea is a northern treasure. --Colleen Mondor

Review

“Sydney Lea is a fisherman, a hunter, a philosopher, a trainer of bird dogs, an interpreter of the past and a collector of stories. This abundance of experience shows up to good effect. Mr. Lea… draws upon his own experiences to give texture to storytelling. He writes memorably. His stories ring true.” (Christopher Kimball, The Wall Street Journal)

“Lea, Vermont’s poet laureate, has crafted a series of essays on the people and places of his rural northern environment that will appeal deeply to those who love or admire New England and can appreciate the quiet life . . . The author’s literary expertise shines through in a passage where bass fishing reminds him of an Elizabeth Bishop poem but as much as his essays are about quail and dogs and logging, Lea reaches beyond regionality to a purely American experience. There is a soulful quality to his words and a strong conviction that a connected life is one to be admired and emulated. A cross between Thoreau and David James Duncan, Lea is a northern treasure.
— Colleen Mondor, Booklist


Now nearing his 70th birthday, Vermont poet laureate Lea (A Hundred Himalayas: Essays on Life and Literature, 2012, etc.) meditates on the role of people and place in his life and pays tribute to the many woodsmen (and women) who were his guides and mentors.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the blending of natural and human worlds—or rather by the dramatic illustration of that blending,” writes the author in this account of a number of the salty characters, many now deceased, who played a part in his life, many of whom he has described in previously published essays. Here, their stories help him chronicle his life and share his deep love for the northern New England woodlands and his passion for hunting and fishing. He describes with gusto his epic combats as a fly fisherman when he was a “hyper-hormonal young man,” and he is unapologetic about his love of hunting, which he describes as a “life-long passion.” Lea disparages what he describes as “the rants of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,” who don't understand the “sacramental” value of hunting, and he expresses great regard for the woodsmen who mentored him and accompanied him on his adventures. However, he is cleareyed in his appraisal of how much poverty and alcohol abuse were also a part of that bygone way of life. While he himself no longer traps animals, he pays tribute to the trappers who “know things about the ways of nature that our Staples-and-Domino's culture is largely unaware of.” Lea is involved in an effort to create a 1 million-acre wildlife preserve on the border between Maine and New Brunswick that will be managed according to green guidelines.

While his uncompromising views are—and are intended to be—provocative, the author’s love of nature and his tender evocation of a way of life that is dying out has appeal.

” (Kirkus Review)

More About the Author

Sydney Lea is Poet Laureate of Vermont. A recipient of fellowships from the MacArthur, Rockefeller and Fulbright Foundations, Lea founded, and for thirteen years edited, NEW ENGLAND REVIEW. Retired after 43 years of college teaching, he is active in literacy and conservation efforts in northern New England. He has published ten volumes of poetry (most recently I WAS THINKING OF BEAUTY, Four Way Books, NYC, 2013), the novel A PLACE IN MIND, a selection of literary essays, A HUNDRED HIMALAYAS (University of Michigan Press 2012,and three collections of naturalist essays, most recently A NORTH COUNTRY LIFE: TALES OF WOODSMEN, WATERS AND WILDLIFE (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013), of which BOOKLIST said:

"There is a soulful quality to his words and a strong conviction that a connected life is one to be admired and emulated. A cross between Thoreau and David James Duncan, Lea is a northern treasure."

Lea has also co-authored GROWING OLD IN POETRY: TWO POETS, TWO LIVES with Fleda Brown, available from amazon in electronic format.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jefferson on January 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Although a part of a much larger scope, this work on these subjects is the best I have read and I have read it all. It gets to the soul of the experience like nothing else has. It conveys the religiosity that some of us feel about grouse hunting. Every phrase resonates in me, after 25 years of hunting in New Hampshire, and during a childhood before that in western New York, learning about grouse hunting and dogs from my mother, father and brother. It is marvelous to find in written words what emotions I have felt for so long. I cannot wait for the two young sons I have raised as grouse hunters to read this work, along with my other hunting partners. If my own precious Elhew pointer, Ruckus, could read, I would get him a copy too. Thanks.

Jeff Willets
Swampscott, MA
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you love poetry and the outdoors, particularly when intertwined with the human fabric, get this book. My enjoyment was hightened because I know some of the places and people mentioned by Lea, but regardless this book is a true joy. If you put it down, it will only be to reflect and then perhaps to return to reread more slowly that last passage.
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Format: Kindle Edition
There are so many aspects of this book a seasoned outdoorsman like myself can appreciate, even though I hail from the southern United States. It's evident in his writing that Sydney is a poet, as his book reads like poetry; a rarity today. I recommend this book mostly to experienced hunters, fishermen and wingshooters who appreciate a time and place before the outdoors became an industry; the simpler times. And if you are a dog lover, this book is definitely for you. The latter chapters made me miss my old dogs! I'd be happy to give this book as a gift to any of my outdoor-loving friends. -- Tim H. Martin/Buckmasters Online Editor
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoy books like this as I spend all summer in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. It is so much fun to escape to the "Wild Country"
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