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Mice in the Freezer, Owls on the Porch is in many ways a love story – about a quiet scientist and his flamboyant wife, but also about their passions for hunting, for wild lands, and for the grouse and raptor species that they were instrumental in saving from destruction. From the papers and letters of Frederick and Frances Hamerstrom, the reminiscences of contemporaries, and her own long friendship with this extraordinary couple who were her neighbors, Helen Corneli draws an intimate picture of Fran and "Hammy" from childhood through the genesis and maturation of a romantic, creative, and scientific relationship. Following the Hamerstroms as they give up a life of sophisticated convention and comfort for the more "civilized" (as Aldo Leopold would have it) pleasures of living and conducting on-the-spot research into diminishing species, Corneli captures the spirit of the Hamerstroms, their profession, and the natural and human environments in which they worked.
A nuanced account of the labors, adventures, and achievements that distinguished the Hamerstroms over the years – and that inspired a generation of naturalists – Mice in the Freezer, Owls on the Porch also provides a dramatic account of conservation history over the course of the twentieth century, particularly in Wisconsin from the 1920s through the 1970s.