Every once in a while, a book grabs me and I know I will never forget it. This is one of those:
by Enos Mills
Enos Abijah Mills (1870-1922) spent his entire life exploring nature and then sharing his observations with anyone interested. This book, The Adventures of a Nature Guide, was originally printed in 1920 (reprinted in 2015) and Enos died just two years later. Through his fifty-two years, the burning passion that took life before his teens never dimmed:
The teaser that persuaded me to buy this book was the opening chapter–Walking Blind in the Snow-covered Mountains. Mills had been exploring the world atop the Continental Divide, alone as was his norm, when he lost his vision to snow blindness. Most of us would ponder our mortality but Mills rationally and calmly found his way back to civilization by employing his remaining senses:
“…feeling my way with the staff so as not to step off a cliff or walk overboard into a canon.”
It took Mills more than two days with only a staff and his remaining senses to find his way down the mountain but he never lost his positive attitude or the belief he would prevail. Only a nature lover could see that as an adventure.
It becomes clear as I read his adventures that to Mills, it didn’t matter what nature threw at him–snow, heat, or storms. He considered each an opportunity to learn more about the natural world:
“The following day, while the storm was at its wildest in the lowlands, I was descending the mountains between eleven and nine thousand feet. Much of the time I was in the broken storm cloud, and, as I wrote in my notebook, ‘For two hours the crash and roll of thunder was incessant. I counted twenty-three times that the lightning struck rocks, but I did not see it strike a tree.'”
Throughout the book, Mills shares many amazing experiences. Here’s one where he watches the ever changing inhabitants of a woodpecker’s nest (over a period of years), starting with the original owners and then followed by chipmunks, bluebirds, wrens, and more.
Who knew? Here are a few more adventures:
“…is both interesting and necessary for one who enjoys the outdoors to be able to return to the lightning-struck tree, the almost hidden beaver colony, the nest of the humming-bird, and to recall the peculiarities of a particular place and its distance from the orchid or the bear sign which he saw.”
If you are a nature lover, hiking enthusiast, or admirer of the independent spirit, you will enjoy this book.
More non-fiction reviews:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Fall 2021. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning