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The Inland Island
The Inland Island: A Year in Nature | Josephine Johnson
13 posts | 6 to read
A beautiful book...about nature the way Walden was a book about nature. It should be read by everyone who still retains the capacity to feel anything (The New York Times). Stunningly written and fiercely observed, a new edition of a classic work of nature writing about a year on an Ohio farm, by Pulitzer Prizewinning author Josephine Johnson. Originally published in 1969, The Inland Island is Josephine W. Johnsons startling and brilliant chronicle of nature and the seasons at her rambling thirty-seven-acre farm in Ohio, which she and her husband reverted to wilderness with the help of a state forester. Over the course of twelve months, she observes the changing landscape with a naturalists precision and a poets evocative language. Readers will marvel at the way she brings to life flashes of beauty, the inexorable cycle of growth and decay, and the creatures who live alongside her, great and small. A forerunner of iconic American women nature writers and a champion of civil rights who marched in Washington against the Vietnam war, Johnson intersperses these delicate marvels (The New York Times) with profound reflections about racial inequality, urbanization, social justice, and environmental destruction that speak powerfully to our time. Ready to be rediscovered by a new generation, The Inland Island is a vital and relevant meditation on nature and time, capturing the wonder, beauty, hopeand flawsof our turbulent world.
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Tamra
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“The snow falls slowly in soft, descending clusters like fairy snowballs. It falls slowly, almost thoughtfully, and far apart…The snow clings where it falls, lovingly and coldly to barren twigs, pure as wool blankets over the dead grass. The wild raspberry wires become tunnels of silver whiteness, the browning pine trees become white trees, and the grapevines are a still, white fountain of flowers.”

Tamra Johnson is referring to The Snow, that seldom snowfall which is perfectly silent, luminous, seemingly miraculous, and permanently suspended within our childhood memory. 3mo
AnnR Lovely! 3mo
Tamra @AnnR those perfect heavy snows are amazing. ❄️ (edited) 3mo
batsy That's a gorgeous passage. 3mo
Tamra @batsy so many in this book, which contrasts sharply with passages relating to her despair and rage over the Vietnam war. 3mo
44 likes5 comments
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Tamra
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“A silver hoarfrost on everything one morning. The trees were wave after wave of silver to the horizon, where they met a silver-blue sky. Every small oval leaf of the honeysuckle and forsythia was fringed with silver. The hackberry twigs, delicate as cobwebs. Leaves fell straight down. The sun began to melt the frost. The green leaves had an icy shine.”

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Tamra
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“Is the naked tree any more the true tree than the whole tree with its leaves? Images betray us.”

“A cold wind begins from the east. The wild fox drains out of me. The old hound pads toward the fire.”

Cathythoughts Nice quotes 👍🏻❤️ 5mo
38 likes1 comment
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Tamra
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“The creek is bordered with willow and jewelweed and wild pea. The bees work the wild-pea vines, but there are no flowers. The great juicy leaves of the water plantain are curling and descending; it‘s mist of white flowers has turned to a ball of green seeds. The thrush goes on seeking in the green algaed waters; lovely clumps of fountain grass grow there, sand and pebble banks are still clear under the water, and gold leaves fall.” 🍂

jlhammar Lovely 6mo
41 likes1 comment
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Tamra
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“On a stone in the sun there was this butterfly. Closed like a book, its wings were a full reddish-grey. Then it opened them. Holy God! It glowed like an orange, fiery coal. A suffusion of light. Red, orange, orange-red, melting down into edges of red-violet and pure blue. Then it snapped it‘s burning pages shut and the light went out.”

August in MN is like this, a momentary bright flash and then it‘s gone.

Pogue That quote makes me want to read this book. Thank you b 7mo
Tamra @Pogue I have really enjoyed reading a chapter each month! You have to like nature writing. 7mo
Pogue @Tamra I love nature writing. 7mo
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Tamra
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“Gold bugs, yellow butterflies, orange lilies. What to do with this great fragrant glow? Well, hold on to it. You‘ll want it in the days to come.” 🌻🦋🪲🐞

Tamra Funny, because the July entry starts out with Johnson bemoaning the bloating humidity on behalf of herself and everything in it, but she comes around to the resplendent results of it. 8mo
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Tamra
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When he had cut westward for three days we felt we could not afford a pathway to the rim of world and told him it was time to stop. He paused and regarded us with thoughtful scorn, “You‘re a couple of tightwads,” he said. “I ain‘t anywheres done.”

😜 Can you imagine enjoying weeding with a scythe?!

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Tamra
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“The winter rushes bend and break, fall down in exhausted clumps; and young green shoots strike up with a delicate vigor among these old straw men. The old reeds creak in the wind, sink lower and gradually disappear. The cattails break off and float away, wads of soggy brown cotton.”

jlhammar Lovely. 10mo
PurpleyPumpkin Beautiful!✨ 10mo
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Tamra
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“The brown winter blanket of leaves was buried under a blanket of flowers. The old king was done in at last.”

I will hang onto this hope for late April. 😊

Cathythoughts 😁🌸🌸 11mo
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Tamra
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“The Saxons called it Hld-monath, loud and stormy month. Around and around the seasons go, and every year the gaping mouth of March, the windy month that breaks the season open. Mars, god of war, lengthening month, and out of this month flow lengthening days, wind, leaves, and war, torn crows and promises. O promises.”

kspenmoll Wonderful quote! 11mo
merelybookish Beautiful! 🌬️ 11mo
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Tamra
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“Winter is supposed to die this month. ‘The back of winter is broken,‘ we say - a terrible expression, implying the old king still lives, moves, but is helpless and in pain. But the old king rises and scours the land with snow and ice, typhoons, blizzards, floods, sleet, deep snows from Texas to Maine.”

TheBookHippie Winter dies end of April here 🥶🤣😵‍💫🤷🏻‍♀️🙄. 13mo
Tamra @TheBookHippie 😩 here too. And it isn‘t pretty either. 😜 I‘m always so jealous. (edited) 13mo
batsy I love that illustration 🦉 13mo
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Tamra
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“But now the extreme cold brings it‘s true, appropriate gift - the narrowing down. Withdraw to one room. Put on your reading glasses.”

Johnson goes on to point out the details of objects, nature, even our hands, which we tend to notice only when the quiet of the winter season focuses our senses.

Cathythoughts That‘s lovely ♥️ 13mo
batsy That looks like a gorgeous book! 13mo
Tamra @Cathythoughts @batsy each chapter has a beautiful ink drawing. 😊 13mo
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blurb
Tamra
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I‘ve been so excited about this arriving and there was a wonderful bonus inside, a contemporary article about Johnson and the book! July 1969 - great year by the way. 😉 The article is from the Women‘s Wear Daily. (Far outside my realm. I think it‘s an online publication now?)

jlhammar Love little surprises like that! This sounds fantastic. 13mo
Tamra @jlhammar yes! Gift from a past reader - likely a woman. 13mo
Cathythoughts So lovely ❤️ 13mo
LeahBergen Cool! 13mo
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