This book falls into my mental bookshelf for naturalist writers like Annie Dillard, Wallace Stevens, Aldo Leopold, and others of that type. I was excited to read it ever since I moved away from the Midwest. I've been craving seasons and reading about them.
The writing in this book is lovely, and recalls Dillard's attention to small details and Leopold's passion for the Midwestern prairies, though without Dillard's luminous prose or Leopold's occasional preachy-ness.
There's a lovely essay on a prairie thunderstorm, a great summary of the paleo-history of the Great Plains, and numerous bits here and there that make me miss the prairies. For some reason, the essay on the role of the bison in plains Native American life rubbed me the wrong way, with its tendency to romanticize Native American life on the prairies. But the essay on the phenomenon of prairie fires redeemed it.
The book is divided into four sections, one for each season. In each season, Gruchow includes several short essays on seasonal phenomena: insects, the wind, grasses, animals. He also weaves in childhood memories of growing up in the upper Midwest.
I can't tell if I like this book because I miss living in the Midwest, or whether I like it for its own merits. I suspect it's a combination, and it makes a nice addition to my naturalist writers collection.
Recommended if you like the Midwest or naturalist writing in general.