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By Wallace Kaufman

"An soaking up, unflinching, and unusually comedian account of the way one man-a committed father-withdrew from the realm and steadily back. it truly is as clever and instructive because it is compelling."-Reynolds PriceIn 1974 Wallace Kaufman, following the romantic imaginative and prescient of an easier lifestyles in concord with nature he first glimpsed in Thoreau's Walden, moved directly to his personal land through a small movement within the North Carolina woods. Now, twenty-five years later, he emerges to inform a story slightly diverse from Thoreau's-an exciting, relocating, and exceedingly late-twentieth-century tale of a lifestyles lived within the wild as landowner, environmentally wide awake developer, builder, farmer, conservationist, desert steward. His love of nature and his dedication to keeping it by no means waver, whilst he tells his occasionally hilarious, occasionally catastrophic tales of the way to dwell with nature even if nature is not too partial to residing with you.

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Planners came along later to assure that the worst also looked farther ahead. The loggers and vanished farmers whose old road I chose to follow across the creek had found a place where the land on both sides of the creek was relatively high, where it contained too much stone or heavy clay for the creek to carve a wide plain. We are not talking about the Yangtze River Gorge or Hell's Canyon, of course, but a place where the creek ran through a relatively narrow valley with the land rising from its banks on both sides.

I spread out the map of the 330 acres on the hood of my truck and stuck a finger on the point at which the logging road plunged through the small pines. "Anywhere in here you can have five acres or a hundred," I would say. I thought people would like the design-your-own-lot approach. They could choose how long and how wide the lot would be and what hills and trees it might have. But even trail-seasoned country lovers arrived expecting to see some hallmarks of development. They were not the heroes of Nordic sagas who could mark their own boundaries, name their own land.

But the discovery also consoled me because I was not the first to disturb this place. As a fifteen-year old, I had worked on an archeological salvage crew in South Dakota, excavating a Mandan village by the Missouri. That cured me of sentimentality about Indians. They had lived with their garbage of stinking buffalo bone piled three and four feet deep around their earth lodges. The Indians executed the last of the mammoths, American horses, giant bears, camels, and tigers. They denuded fragile arid ecosystems in the Southwest to plant corn and they carved their crowded and dirty apartment buildings into the face of pristine rock cliffs.

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