At first glance, you might think that Carol Rottman’s All Nature Sings: A Spiritual Journey of Place (Credo House, 2010) is a pretty coffee table book. Leaf through the 160 pages, and you’ll see dozens of arresting images of the flora and fauna (and occasional critter) surrounding her rural western Michigan property.
But settle into a cozy chair, and read a chapter or two of this lovely book. It is both exploration and reminiscence, written by someone deeply rooted in the land on which she and her husband live.
It is part spiritual memoir, part conservationist’s diary, with a dash of poetry, a splash of environmental resource, gently blended together into a shimmering whole.
Rottman invites us to savor a year at her homestead month by month. Explaining her decision to start her book in November, she writes:
“So why does someone like me decide to begin a nature journal just when plants die back and most living creatures hibernate or go south? Or to write of blooms long gone? Simply because every day of the year I see or remember something remarkable as I walk the driveway or the trail through the woods or along the mowed path around the perimeter of our land. During the growing season I gather mental notes to hang in my storehouse, waiting for inspection. Winter’s short days are a perfect time to dredge my reserves for sightings of glory.”
Rottman’s writing engages all the senses – as well as the soul. Whether it is the bleak, sloppy days of an upper-midwest March or the “prairie pinnacle” of July, each chapter blends description of nature with a sampling of Rottman’s rich past and present life, along with bits of informative nature resource information, and beautiful photos. In fact, if I could change one thing about All Nature Sings is that I found myself wishing that there were even more pictures to accompany the text.
In any case, the book would make a wonderful gift for a “Country Mouse”, a nature-lover, or even a homesick city-dweller who wants to drink deeply the beauty of a life rooted in a sense of place.
***A review copy of this book was provided me by the publisher.