America has an astounding environmental literature. From Henry David Thoreau through John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson and Minnesota’s Sigurd Olson, magnificent authors have changed the way we view the natural world and our relationship to it.
Move over, Mr. Thoreau, Muir, Leopold and Olson, and Ms. Carson. There’s a new author in town and his name is Darby Nelson.
A former Minnesota legislator and former board president of Conservation Minnesota, Darby has penned the just-released For Love of Lakes. It deserves to be a best-seller, and it is already a classic.
Darby’s book explores the mystery of how our love of lakes can be eclipsed by our neglect of them. He wanders from, among other places, Rainy Lake to Diamond Lake to Walden Pond in search of answers. Along the way he offers breathtaking descriptions of lakes, tells stories of his own love of lakes, observes the consequences of pollution and poor land management for the health of lakes, and asks hard questions.
This is not a scolding book. It does not communicate gloom and doom. In fact, it begins with a young man’s joy in fishing and paddling and continues in a sense of wonder. But neither does it let us off the hook. Reading Darby’s book, you will be entertained and provoked at the same time. The book will linger in your memory and the lakes it describes in your mind’s eye.
Rachel Carson said, “Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” Darby is clearly in tune with those beauties and mysteries. Reading his book brought me closer to them, and will do so for many others.
Published by Michigan State University Press, For Love of Lakes can be ordered here. http://www.darbynelson.com/get-a-copy/
Dave Dempsey is a resident of Rosemount and author of three books on environmental subjects. He formerly served as Conservation Minnesota’s communications director.