cover image Settled in the Wild: Notes from the Edge of Town

Settled in the Wild: Notes from the Edge of Town

Susan Hand Shetterly, . . Algonquin, $21.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-56512-618-3

“I live on land that has not surrendered the last of its wildness,” Shetterly (The New Year's Owl: Encounters with Animals, People and the Land They Share ) writes of her home in rural Maine. “It keeps secrets, and those secrets prompt us to pay attention, to look for more.” In her first essay collection in more than 20 years, she beautifully renders some of what she's learned in the decades since she and her then husband moved into an unfinished cabin—“idealistic, dangerously unprepared, and, frankly, arrogant, she can see now.” Most of these essays, however, focus on life after she's settled in, when she's learned to listen for the sounds of the coming spring through her open bedroom window or impulsively stands down a bobcat that's chased a baby rabbit into the middle of the road. Shetterly's eye for poetic detail is exquisite, especially in longer essays such as the story of how she nursed an injured raven back to health, after which it set up home on her roof and became best friends with her terrier. But she writes about her neighbors (even those she admits she never really knew) with equal grace and empathy. Let's hope it's not another quarter-century before her next collection arrives. (Nov.)