Flying Blind: One Man’s Adventures Battling Buckthorn, Making Peace With Authority, and Creating a Home for Endangered Bats

Don Mitchell, Author
Don Mitchell. Chelsea Green, $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-6035-8520-0
Reviewed on: 07/15/2013
Release date: 08/01/2013
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-60358-521-7
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Middlebury writing professor, novelist, and shepherd Mitchell (The Nature Notebooks) didn’t set out to become an environmental hero at the outset of this elegantly written eco-memoir. Despite his mistrust of authority, in 2009, Mitchell is ridding Vermont forests of invasive plant species and rescuing bats through a government program: the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). This quest leads Mitchell into the darkness of the woods, and back out into a deepened understanding of himself and the natural world. The physical labor and nature of the forest come to stand for Mitchell’s inner journey—making peace with the darkness in his family’s past, while strengthening the bonds in his family’s present. The methodical work, both of weeding and writing, allows him to restore the forest within, the “decay” allowing him to access rich literary material in his personal and family history. Collaborating with the government he once despised, Mitchell helps a team track bats, revealing why the endangerment of bats threatens the ecosystem. In helping to save them, he salvages part of himself: “Befriending bats had been a means to figure out, against all odds, where in the world I actually was.” Mitchell weaves personal and environmental story lines in patterns as beautiful and natural as any ecosystem could create. Agent: Sally Brady, Brady Literary Management. (Oct.)
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