Finding 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 introduces information that can be appreciated from a scientific point of view, explaining, for example, the ears of an owl, or the problems with the typical Christmas tree. 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.
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Jim Minick lives, writes, and farms in southwest Virginia, while teaching writing and literature at Radford University. His poems and essays have appeared in many books and periodicals including Orion, Shenandoah, YES!, Natural Home, Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Appalachian Journal, Appalachian Heritage, and Wind. Since 1996, Minick has written a regular column for The Roanoke Times New River Current as well as other articles that have appeared in major newspapers throughout the south.
"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."
"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."
"Jim Minick is blessed with brevity. Each of his one to three page 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."
"...Finding a Clear Path is a beautifully wrought example of nature writing and environmental advocacy at its most appealing."