For more than 25 years, I have been exploring and writing about New England’s forests.
I didn’t know that by buying 95 acres of forestland in Vermont, I would find my life’s work, but that’s what happened. Learning from experts in various forest-related disciplines, I jumped into forest stewardship with the zeal of the newly converted. Before long, I was so taken with the world of forestry, conservation, and wildlife that a forester friend and I started a magazine called Northern Woodlands. Spending time with loggers, birders, other landowners, foresters, hunters, and botanists, I saw the common vision shared by all: this forest has tremendous value, both economic and ecological, and we should do everything we can to keep it intact.
Northern Woodlands’ work was honored with awards from what might seem an incongruous range of organizations, including:
- Northern Forest Center
- Northeastern Loggers’ Association
- Fairbanks Museum
- New England Wild Flower Society
- New England Society of American Foresters
But the breadth of that audience was exactly the point. We were building bridges, spanning the divide between urban and rural, between people who viewed and used the forest in different ways.
After 17 years at the helm of Northern Woodlands, I was longing to bring my full attention back to my own writing. So I left the magazine I had founded. I was awarded a Bullard Fellowship at Harvard Forest in 2011. In my fellowship year, I began research on the 1938 hurricane, New England’s most devastating weather event. My own forest in Corinth had been blown down in 1938, a fate shared by Harvard Forest and by 30,000 families. My new book, Thirty-Eight, tells the story of how the people and forests recovered from this cataclysmic event. As with all of my work, Thirty-Eight attempts to shed further light on the age-old theme of man’s place in nature.
I have lived in Corinth, VT, with my wife, novelist Mary Hays, since 1989.