Zen of the Plains: Experiencing Wild Western Places

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Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781574415520
Physical Description: 6x9. 288 pp. 40 b&w photos. 5 maps. Notes. Bib. Index.
Publication Date: May 2014
Series: Southwestern Nature Writing Series | Volume: 2

Although spare, sweeping landscapes may appear “empty,” plains and prairies afford a rich, unique aesthetic experience—one of quiet sunrises and dramatic storms, hidden treasures and abundant wildlife, infinite horizons and omnipresent wind, all worthy of contemplation and celebration.  In this series of narratives, photographs, and hand-drawn maps, Tyra Olstad blends scholarly research with first-hand observation to explore topics such as wildness and wilderness, travel and tourism, preservation and conservation, expectations and acceptance, and even dreams and reality in the context of parks, prairies, and wild, open places. In so doing, she invites readers to reconsider the meaning of “emptiness” and ask larger, deeper questions such as: how do people experience the world? How do we shape places and how do places shape us? Above all, what does it mean to experience that exhilarating effect known as Zen of the plains?

“Olstad speaks not merely to Plains aficionados and devotees of nature writing but also to readers who like to think critically about issues of space, place, and the literary representation thereof.”—Kent Ryden, author of Mapping the Invisible Landscape: Folklore, Writing, and the Sense of Place

“This young woman has a poetic style and a good eye, she’s an excellent writer with a tremendous future. The illustrations are outstanding and add much to the value of this work.”—Gary Lantz, author of Morning Comes to Elk Mountain: Dispatches from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

About Author:

TYRA A. OLSTAD has worked as a seasonal park ranger, cave guide, and paleontology technician for the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service in Arizona, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Alaska. An alumna of Dartmouth College, the University of Wyoming, and Kansas State University, she currently teaches at SUNY Oneonta.