Northern Michigan is a place, like all places, in change. Over the past half century, its landscape has been bulldozed, subdivided, and built upon. Climate change warms the water of the Great Lakes at an alarming rate—Lake Superior is now the fastest-warming large body of freshwater on the planet—creating increasingly frequent and severe storm events, altering aquatic and shoreline ecosystems, and contributing to further invasions by non-native plants and animals.
And yet the essence of this region, known to many as simply “Up North,” has proved remarkably perennial. Millions of acres of state and national forests and other public lands remain intact. Small towns peppered across the rural countryside have changed little over the decades, pushing back the machinery of progress with the help of dedicated land conservancies, conservation organizations, and other advocacy groups.
Up North in Michigan, the new collection from celebrated nature writer Jerry Dennis, captures its author’s lifelong journey to better know this place he calls home by exploring it in every season, in every kind of weather, on foot, on bicycle, in canoes and cars. The essays in this book are more than an homage to a particular region, its people, and its natural wonders. They are a reflection on the Up North that can only be experienced through your feet and fingertips, through your ears, mouth, and nose—the Up North that makes its way into your bones as surely as sand makes its way into wood grain.
Cover: Artwork by Glenn Wolff
"Such a treasure Jerry Dennis is, whose work in words gives us such generous glimpses of the illuminated world, his singular pilgrimage. Part Thoreau, part Hemingway, Dennis is naturalist, voyageur, conservationist and curator, equal measures purveyor and patron saint. He encounters Northern Michigan as the theologian considers mystery—as a life’s work, with a ‘ground sense’ born of total immersion. We are lucky to have his elegant field notes."
—Thomas Lynch, Poet & Author
"Northern Michigan has spawned and shaped many fine writers, and Jerry Dennis is among the very best. Not only has he created a prose style that is pure and chiseled, but he knows more about the history and natural history of his region than just about anyone else, writer or not. It is a joy, even a privilege, to read this intimate and beautiful book that celebrates its author’s place."
—Keith Taylor, author of Let Them Be Left and The Bird-while
"With this gorgeous gem of a collection, Jerry Dennis has given us a new classic of nature writing. Not destined for anyone’s dusty shelf, Up North will be savored on travels through north woods and lake country, or on snow-drenched nights at home, until its pages have absorbed the very smells and wrinkles of northern Michigan."
—Lynne Heasley, author of The Accidental Reef and Other Ecological Odysseys in the Great Lakes