My prose, poetry, and songs arise at the intersection between ecology and art, and I believe we are all artists.
Photo by Kathryn Meyer
I am pleased to share this newly published essay ~
The Crystalline Bed of St. Peter
Still Point Art Quarterly Spring 2021 Issue 41 My Deep Love of Place
Is it strange to say I am in love with the bedrock where I live?
I am smitten with the layers of limestone and sandstone that line these Wisconsin hills, and to my eyes, these hills are the loveliest of golden layer cakes. Here on our farm, I love the scent of the bedrock, rising above spring waters, creeks and rivers and how the golden gravel lining our roads catches winter’s light against the white, blues, and purples of snow.
It’s been over forty years since I first stepped onto the land in southwest Wisconsin, examining the beautiful layers of stone through a university geology class. This place captured my heart. I recognized that this land of golden soils fragrant with limestone and cheddar was where I belonged; this land would be my home. I focused all of my university studies on every aspect of the Driftless Area, this island of unglaciated land in the upper Midwest. I wanted to learn how to live here with its millions of years of fossilized sea creatures and its artesian springs roiling through fine sands. I wanted to know everything I could about the First Nations people and the colonial people who pushed them away and built Dairyland. I wanted to know how we could live here without doing harm, choosing renewable energy, raising our food organically, drawing attention to the importance of local foods, and celebrating our multitudinous waters. Of all the layers of bedrock here in my region, the St. Peter Sandstone draws me to it like a magnet.
*To read the text of this poem go to the INVOCATION page of this website.*
~Many thanks to Stephanie Motz for this beautiful poster design. ~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thanks to all who came to readings.
Though Bona Fide, the publisher, is no longer in business, I still have a few copies of PV II for sale. Contact me if you are interested.
Permanent Vacation II: Eighteen Writers on Work and Life in Our National Parks
...was published by Bona Fide Books in June 2018. Within it you'll find my essay "Island Voices" about my time as a ranger on Raspberry Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. I'm very excited to be part of this collection which features two other essays about Lake Superior--another from the Apostles and one from Isle Royale.
Sadly, the publisher closed its doors in December 2018.
Arts + Literature Laboratory and Black Earth Institute invited me to read as one of the writers exploring the Earth and landscape as the ultimate context for words, actions, hopes, and fears and as a local writer opposing the Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission line and defending the Driftless Area.
Catherine's Essay Water Song now part of UW Press anthology The Driftless Reader
My essay Water Song is now part of The Driftless Reader, an anthology of over two centuries of writings about the people, land, and history of the Driftless region.
I am excited to be part of this collection which includes writers and environmental thinkers whose work I have long admired Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Ben Logan and Laura Ingalls Wilder, among many others.
More than voice of our Wisconsin Driftless Area farm, the spring creek is an artery in a water heart—alive and pulsing. It is a twig on a water tree, and its course shapes the branch of a trout stream called Dieter Hollow Creek, which in turn, is part of the great water tree called the Mississippi River. In spring, the winged ones in the sky follow the trail of water from trunk to twig and then in fall, back again from twig to trunk. —Catherine Young, from Water Song (2013)
The farmstead stood on a hilltop, like a castle, like the center of the world. . . . Look in any direction and there were other ridges, with dots of houses and barns, and the blue shadows of other ridges still beyond them, each a whole world away from the next narrow ridge. Down below, in the valley, was yet another world. The valleys had different trees and animals. Even the seasons were different. —Ben Logan, from The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and Its People (1975)
Great to meet you and share stories of our land. I hope to see you at other readings and events for The Driftless Reader.