This Tender Place

The Story of a Wetland Year

Book Description

After the deaths of her father and father-in-law, Lau­rie Lawlor dis­cov­ers an unlike­ly place for heal­ing and trans­for­ma­tion in a wet­land in south­east­ern Wisconsin—a land­scape of abun­dant and some­times inac­ces­si­ble beau­ty that has often been ignored, mis­un­der­stood, and threat­ened by human destruc­tion. In her decade-long per­son­al wet­land jour­ney, she exam­ines the sky, delves under­wa­ter, and peers between sedges in all sea­sons and all times of day.

This Ten­der Place is a cel­e­bra­tion of nature, the ele­ments, and human­i­ty. From the wetland’s gen­e­sis dur­ing the ice age to its sur­vival in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, Lawlor chron­i­cles the uni­ver­sal ties among peo­ple, wild places, and healthy wetlands.

An engag­ing and deeply inti­mate record, This Ten­der Place is at its heart a sto­ry of refuge and renew­al refract­ed through the lens of life with­in the wetlands—one of the most pro­duc­tive, yet most endan­gered, ecosys­tems in the world.

Awards and Recognition

  • Wis­con­sin Library Asso­ci­a­tion Lit­er­ary Awards, Out­stand­ing Achievement

Reviews and Comments

“Lawlor has a remark­ably trans­par­ent style, the per­fect vehi­cle for cap­tur­ing the sub­tle beau­ty of the fen, a rare and pre­cious form of wet­land fed by under­ground lime­stone springs … Like the sur­pris­ing fecun­di­ty of the unas­sum­ing fen, Lawlor’s seem­ing­ly placid book teems with hid­den life and sig­nif­i­cant obser­va­tions, as she reveals the beau­ty and ines­timable val­ue of an often-maligned by tru­ly essen­tial nat­ur­al land­scape.” (Book­list)

“If you bring your whole mind to the read­ing of this book, you will find your­self touch­ing the real­i­ty of This Ten­der Place also with your eyes, your ears, your nose, your tongue, and your body … With your mind entire­ly present, you will find the past and the future ful­ly avail­able in the here and now … I am sure read­ers will expe­ri­ence a great deal of plea­sure in read­ing This Ten­der Place.” (Thich Nhat Hanh, Bud­dhist teacher, peace activist, and  author of more than 50 books)

“Nature lovers will be entranced by Lawlor’s descrip­tions of ani­mals and the his­to­ry of a place.” (Eliz­a­beth McBride, Recip­i­ent of the Ellis-Hen­der­son Out­door Writ­ing Award 1997, 1999, and con­trib­u­tor to the New York Times)

“Lau­rie Lawlor’s writ­ing reflects her love for her wet­land. At times the writ­ing is so beau­ti­ful, so lyri­cal, it should be set to music.” (Joanne Flem­ming, Wis­con­sin writer)

“In the wet­lands of south­east Wis­con­sin, Lawlor ini­ti­ates a gen­uine rela­tion­ship with the land. From spring peep­ers to sand­hill cranes, there is an unyield­ing sense of her direct par­tic­i­pa­tion with nature, and through her encoun­ters and descrip­tions one feels a new sense of belonging—a con­ti­nu­ity with all life.” (Nina Leopold Bradley, daugh­ter of Aldo Leopold, author of Sand Coun­ty Almanac)

This Tender Place

writ­ten by Lau­rie Lawlor
Ter­race Books, 2005
Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin Press

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