Woods Work

Woods Work

My ideal day is to write all morning and into part of the afternoon, and then get outside to walk, or tend the garden, or work in the woods. This woods work often baffles people—“What do you mean?” they ask. It takes many forms—from pruning tree seedlings we’ve planted along streams to cutting firewood to felling injured or crowded trees as a way to improve the overall forest. Or to put it another way, I’m a tree-hugger who loves his chainsaw.

In the summer, when the sap is up, woods work also involves making bark baskets out of poplar and hickory.

Here’s a sampling of essays on this work–one about making these bark baskets, another on planting small trees under power lines, and a third on doing a tree census while fighting wasps.

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Fire Is Your Water

I’m thrilled to announce that my novel Fire Is Your Water will be published by Ohio UP in the spring of 2017.

Here’s a book cover description:

Ada Franklin is a young powwow doctor in the Pennsylvania Dutch, religious faith tradition. By saying sacred chants, she can remove warts, stanch bleeding, and “take out fire” to heal burns. That all changes on a June day in 1953 when the Franklin barn ignites into flame. Ada and her mother enter the burning building to rescue their animals. The scorching heat, the roar of the blaze, the shrill bellows of so many cows trapped inside—all of it changes Ada. For the first time, she fears death and—for the first time—she doubts God. After the fire, she no longer can heal. Then Ada meets Will Burk and his pet raven, Cicero. And then there is another fire.

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