How do you thank the person who gave you a vantage from which to see the world? This question is more than the opening statement of Father Nature: Fathers as Guides to the Natural World - it is the resounding theme that runs through each of the essays in this tribute to fathers and fathering and to nature, the connection that ties them both together. The nineteen personal essays in Father Nature explore the fierce love between fathers and their children and the ultimate need to express this love through nature. There are stories of fathers who take their children fishing, hiking, ice skating, and berry picking, as well as stories about the significance of birds and animals, tidepools, rivers, and tree houses. Beneath each story lies an even greater lesson: Like nature, fatherhood can be difficult, terrifying, and challenging in ways that may never be fully understood. Editors Paul Piper and Stan Tag divide Father Nature into three distinct sections. "Fathers" contains essays by sons and daughters recounting the ways their fathers shaped their lives and perceptions of nature. The essays in "Fathers and Fathering" describe the transition from being a son to becoming a father. Finally, "Fathering" explores the challenges, dilemmas, and rewards of fathering itself. A closing essay connects all three sections with a daughter's consideration of the impact of her father's death on her own life and love of nature. Both poignant and entertaining, Father Nature is an inspiring tribute to fathers who shared one gift that can be passed down for generations - a profound love and respect for the natural world.
In our mostly urban world, these writers provide a blueprint for our journeys as parents. The natural world is the prism through which we see our fathers, ourselves - 'stardust coalesced in such exquisite and complicated lives' - and the relationship between the two. Father Nature reminds us that each one of these shared moments on the land is a declaration of love. - Stephen Trimble, co-author of The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places
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Paul Piper has worked as a biologist, landscaper, writer, webmaster, and librarian. He is currently employed as a teaching librarian at Western Washington University, where he specializes in Internet research and teaches an occasional creative writing class. Stan Tag teaches American literature and culture, writing, and natural history at Fairhaven College, a small interdisciplinary college within Western Washington University.