Review of <i>Waiting for Coyote's Call: An Eco-Memoir from the Missouri River Bluff</i> By Jerry Wilson
Author(s)Dixon, Mark D.
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AbstractThis book documents its author's move to the bluffs of the Missouri River valley in southeastern South Dakota and his experiences and personal reflections during twenty-five years of life there. In the spirit of Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac, Jerry Wilson weaves together observations about the natural and human history of the bluffs and reflections-derived from his experiences on the South Dakota bluffs and his childhood on an Oklahoma farm-about how to live ethically on the land and toward its creatures. In so doing, he fashions an intimate tapestry of the Missouri River bluffs and woodlands that are often underappreciated in the Plains. Each of the book's five sections is divided into four chapters-each an extended essay. The first section, "Rehomesteading the Prairie," recounts how Wilson and his family purchased forty acres of bluffland and built a geo-solar home. Section two, "Into the Woods," describes personal experiences related to woodlands, water, and darkness. The third and longest section (seventy-one pages), "All my Relatives," devotes chapters to human predecessors on the bluff, both Native and Euro-American, and the animals and plants that live there. "Prairie Home" includes reflections about snow and winter, stones, gardening, and efforts at restoring the bluff land prairie. The final section, "The Bluff and Beyond," examines practices of land degradation (especially the loss of the family farm) that Wilson attributes to the arrogance of human attitudes toward the land. In the penultimate chapter, "Battles beyond the Bluff," Wilson extends his own ethic of land stewardship to struggles over a broader array of social and environmental issues across the state and region. The book ends with a diary of observations of nature on the bluff through the course of a year.