Finding a Clear Path

Finding a Clear Path

“An eloquent invitation to slow down and pay attention.” Sandra Ballard

fcpcover216Finding a Clear Path intertwines literature, agriculture, and ecology as author Jim Minick takes the reader on many journeys, allowing you to float on a pond, fly with a titmouse, gather ginseng, and grow the lowly potato. The reader visits monarch butterflies and morel mushrooms, encountering beavers, black snakes, and bloodroot along the way. Using his background as a blueberry farmer, gardener, and naturalist, Minick explores the Appalachian region and also explains the ears of an owl, or the problems with how the typical Christmas tree is grown. Reading this collection of essays invites you to search for ways to better understand and appreciate this marvelous world, opening paths for journeys of your own.

Finding a Clear Path may be purchased from your favorite bookstore, from on-line vendors such as Better World Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Borders, or from the publisher. Or support your local bookseller. For a list of independent bookstores, visit

Finding a Clear Path

West Virginia University Press
PB: 978-0-937058-97-8

What others say:

“In Finding a Clear Path, Jim Minick maps the trails, real and metaphorical, that twine through the ancient Appalachian hills and through the hearts of those who love them, gracefully uniting the land, the wildlife and its people.”

— Scott Weidensaul, author of Mountains of the Heart

“Another shining writer has emerged from the Southern landscape. Here Jim Minick has written an exquisitely beautiful book about his Appalachian farm and his engagement in a life that makes sense. In impressive vignettes, Minick sketches his life and his desire to know the depths of it. “I need to name what I love,” he writes. With merry deftness, he tells of counting osprey, growing beans, and finding box turtles, but beyond the immediate, his subjects outline a formula for a good life: community, rootedness, history, family, the beauty of nature. The Virginia mountains are lucky to have Minick as a new voice: would that every place find such a singer of praises.”

— Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

“In Finding a Clear Path, Jim Minick walks woods, gardens, and fields with a poet’s eye; his seeing is sharp, his knowledge deep, his sentences tough and lean. And he is as practical as a farmer’s almanac, too, offering not only observations and reflections, but advice on country matters of all kinds. Minick knows that on this lovely, flawed planet of ours, much is well.”

— Richard Hague, author of Ripenings

“Finding a Clear Path is an eloquent invitation to slow down and pay attention, to the birds and box turtles, to the soil and what it grows. Jim Minick is what I’d call a “kitchen table activist”—an environmentalist whose ideas took root at home and affect everything along the way.”

— Sandra Ballard, Editor of The Appalachian Journal

“Compelling, practical and hopeful, Finding a Clear Path will inspire both rural and urban readers to seek their own solutions to what Jim Minick sees as a systemic dilemma of modern life: ‘We create the same world that we eat,’ he writes, as well as the same world we inhabit. One thousand words would be inadequate to describe Finding a Clear Path. Minick is a powerful poet and advocate—and person. This book should be in the entire American thought-system. Hooray for this crucial work!”

— Marilou Awiakta, author of Selu: Seeking the Corn-Mother’s Wisdom

“Jim Minick is blessed with brevity. Each of his essays meditates on one small thing, yet manages to enhance our understanding of the whole wide world. Readers be warned: seeing the macrocosm in a microcosm is a dangerous subversion of the normal egocentric human perspective, and may cause changes in attitude.”

— Chris Bolgiano, author of Living in the Appalachian Forest

To read an excerpt, the title essay “Finding a Clear Path,” click here: Finding a Clear Path

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