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Prairie Soul

Finding Grace in the Earth Beneath My Feet

Jeffrey A. Lockwood

“When I slow my pace of living so that I truly see the grassland, then my life comes into focus. The ordinary moments—weeding the garden with my daughter, fishing with my son, explaining a concept to a student, drinking coffee with friends—become worthy of living, infused with meaning. The grassland is a setting that reflects my life, evoking the depth and wonder of the eternal present. Every seed on the grassland, any touch of my wife, each word I write means nothing—and everything.”
—from the Prologue

Prairie Soul is one man’s evocative journey of ecological, moral and spiritual discovery. It unfolds on the high plains of Wyoming and stretches to the grasslands of France and central Asia. Possessing an extraordinary sense of harmony with these forbidding and often unforgiving landscapes, Lockwood extends the transcendent tradition of writers like Aldo Leopold and Annie Dillard. “Landscapes are mirrors of our dreams, reflecting the texture and topography of our lives,” Lockwood writes, and he finds meaning in the grasslands by aligning his sense of time, space, and self with these austere and beautiful lands.

Jeffrey A. Lockwood is an entomologist who has worked for sixteen years in the field of grasshopper ecology and management. A professor of natural sciences and humanities at the University of Wyoming, Lockwood is the author of Grasshopper Dreaming: Reflections on Killing and Loving (Skinner House Books, 2002) and Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier (Basic Books, 2004). Lockwood was the 2002 winner of the Pushcart Prize for his essay “To Be Honest.” He lives in Laramie, Wyoming.

Praise for Prairie Soul:

“Jeffrey Lockwood's Prairie Soul reminds us not only that the infinite and the infinitesimal exist side by side but also that practicing ecology is a way of practicing prayer. Whether he is hunting for grasshoppers on the Wyoming plains or studying locusts in Kazakhstan, Lockwood brings a sense of reverence and love to his work. An entomologist with a mystical bent, he invites us to walk mindfully on the earth, always relishing our contact with the land, yet always conscious of the mark we leave behind. Engaging and filled with delight, Prairie Soul is a celebration of an understated landscape, a tribute to the ‘austere abundance' of the North American steppe.”
—Susan Hanson, author of Icons of Loss and Grace: Moments from the Natural World

“Like Thoreau's Walden Pond, Ed Abbey's southwestern desert or Wendell Berry's rural Kentucky, Lockwood's home country and study of grasshoppers lead us to universal themes—spirituality, the place of religion in science, the relationship between humans and the places they live, grasslands and ecology, the importance of family and friendship. Prairie Soul provides an acquaintance with the life and mind of the author that intrigues, enlightens and challenges the reader.”
—Robert Roripaugh, Wyoming Poet Laureate, 1995-2002

“In these soulful essays, Lockwood pricks our minds and our consciences as sharply as grassland cactus pricks the bare foot of the sojourner.”
—Alyson Hagy, author of Graveyard of the Atlantic

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Last updated on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

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