cover image A Wild Neighborhood

A Wild Neighborhood

John Henricksson. University of Minnesota Press, $14.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-8166-3017-2

The northeast Minnesota neighborhood ""where the great white pines were mature when the Declaration of Independence was signed"" is Henricksson's domain. As the title implies, his dozen essays are loosely sketched portraits of his rather eccentric neighbors--black bear, moose, loons, eagles, marten, Canada jays, beaver. The editor of North Writers and North Writers II, Henricksson scatters his chapters with factual tidbits: the barred owl has ""the keenest hearing of any bird,"" enabling them to hear a mouse running on hard-packed earth 50 yards away; biologists consider ravens to be among the most intelligent of all wild creatures, while the seven-foot-tall moose have baseball-sized brains and aren't exceptionally bright. His sympathy extends to the large fuzzy wolf spider, the only spider to carry her eggs and hatchlings on her body. The chapter that rises among the rest is the last, ""Ghosts."" Here Henricksson, describes the traces--a sighting, a set of tracks, a body--of largely extirpated cougars, fishers, wolverines and caribou. Although there's a rather once-over-lightly quality to this book, Henricksson does manage to capture the psychological rush of encounters with wildlife. (Oct.)