cover image JERUSALEM CREEK: Journeys into Driftless Country

JERUSALEM CREEK: Journeys into Driftless Country

Ted Leeson, . . Lyons, $24.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-1-58574-554-8

"It is a truism among anglers that the deepest affections attach to first waters. They become our private archetypes.... The images of people, the reflections of other times and places are mirrored in a silver surface, and fishing becomes a form of memory, and memory a form of return." Angling essayist and Oregon State University English professor Leeson's new collection of essays (after Habit of Rivers) returns to the waters he's known since childhood, the spring creeks in southern Wisconsin's pastoral "driftless country." The landscape is an Ice Age geologic anomaly, untouched by glaciers and composed of narrow valleys, coves, hollows and small creeks full of trout. Leeson's finely woven recollections and thoughtful meditations on the natural world drive these essays, as he considers everything from bees to Amish farms to the special qualities of trout fishermen. He recalls becoming a fishing fanatic at the age of 14, describes his favorite fishing companions (his brother and their old childhood friend, nicknamed "Lizard") and tells of a medieval custom called "beating the bounds," in which older villagers taught young boys the limits of their rural hamlet by banging their heads against trees and other boundary markers. Occasionally Leeson's reveries drift into vague sentimentality, but for the most part he keeps them grounded with anecdotes and facts about the natural history and geography of his native region. (July)