Book Review: Prairie Spring, by Pete Dunne
Reviewed by Stephen J. Bodio
October 15, 2009
Prairie Spring: A Journey into the Heart of a Season is a typical Pete Dunne book—its effortless and breezy manner looks casual but deals with vital matters. His rationale is a perfect example: “So if your ambition is to write a book to entice a strange audience to explore an exciting, overlooked, and now alien environment (i.e., the natural world that surrounds and supports us) and you are searching for some common ground to give them a familiar footing, where might you start? Please say ‘the seasons.’ And which season would you choose?”
Pete and his wife, Linda, ramble up and down the plains seeking out its quintessential species and experiences. They visit Lesser Prairie-Chicken leks in New Mexico and drop in on the Sandhill Crane migration in Nebraska. He observes of cranes: “I’m only guessing here, but I believe that part of the crane’s appeal is anthropomorphic. I think we see in cranes—or project onto them—a lot of admirable traits, traits that remind us of ourselves and make us feel close to them. Cranes are monogamous, and they mate for life, social qualities that are still admired and aspired to in our society, climbing divorce rates and denial of presidential candidates notwithstanding.”
But it’s not all picturesque description and metaphor. It also deals with the serious issues of the plains: fire, water rights, expansion of the Fort Carson military base, which intends to add 240,000 acres to its training base. And when you finish Prairie Spring you’ll realize that it is above all about grass, the foundation of everything prairie. I look forward to reading what I assume will be the next three volumes of Pete Dunne’s series on the seasons.