Author: John Bates
Illustrations: April Lehman
Softcover, 6 x 9 inches, 226 pages, illustrated
Manitowish River Press, 1997
A Northwoods Companion: Fall and Winter is the edited compilation of over seven years of biweekly columns that John Bates has written for the Lakeland Times in Minocqua, Wisconsin. The column, called "A Northwoods Almanac," captures the phenology, or the orderly timing and progression of natural events, of the Northwoods.
A Northwoods Companion: Fall and Winter acts as a personal guide to the natural events of the Northwoods as the seasons change from the burst of autumn color into the white and silence of winter. While nature in winter may appear to have little going on, there's a great deal to see and think about if you have a guide to show you.
Bates' work would go in your day pack or on the seat of your car, ready to be consulted at the buzz of a bee or when the gray tree frog sings . . . Bates would seem the perfect companion in the outdoors, the sort of fellow that could turn an ordinary walk into a graduate course.
--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A Northwoods Companion: Spring and Summer, by John Bates, is a biweekly reader that shares phenological highlights from March through August. Bates is a forest naturalist who now operates a naturalist guiding service in Mercer, Wis., and he knows the northern scape darn well. The book is chock full of interesting tidbits and is organized so the reader who wants to study nature's coming attractions or plan a northern vacation can anticipate what will be blooming, crawling and croaking in a particular two-week segment. It would be equally enjoyable to slip this book in your backpack with your sandwich and field guides, take it along when you can sneak in ten minutes of reading between appointments, or keep it on your nightstand for a few minutes of quality reading at the end of the day.
--Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine
If you're looking to augment your calendar with some fascinating nature facts, try John Bates' A Northwoods Companion: Spring and Summer. Although this book is a compilation of columns from a northern Wisconsin newspaper, Minnesota readers will resonate with the natural events it encapsulates. A Northwoods Companion is more than a recounting of phenological events, such as the arrival dates of birds. Despite its hometown tone ('Carol Hanneman has her own resident flock of Canadian geese'), this book delves into the intricacies of animal behavior, reasons for plant carnivorousness, and the value of old-growth forests. In fact, it is so packed with information on such a wide range of subjects that I was at first skeptical about the scientific accuracy of some of the facts. I passed it on for review by experts in other fields of natural inquiry. Our conclusion: Bates gleaned the facts from the best available technical sources.
--The Minnesota Volunteer, Department of Natural Resources Magazine
A delightful collection of insightful, informative and personal observations of the wonder of nature in the northwoods . . . Every reader will find little gems. . . It reads like a labor of love.
--Peter McKeever, Director Wisconsin Nature Conservancy
This book will make you push back your computer screen, forget the e-mail and faxes, and put on your galloshes and go for a ramble. Bates writes crisp prose with a touch of humor, and always the lilt and grace of his subject shines through . . . He brings the magic of the natural world alive.
--Terry Daulton, Staff Biologist, Sigurd Olson Institute
Exquisite phenology . . . This North Country naturalist reveals the depth of experience necessary in knowing one's home or sense of place . . . A must read for all visitors (and students) to the North Country.
--Clayton Russell, Outdoor Education Faculty Northland College
A delightful two-volume set that captures the mood of each season . . . The pages are sprinkled with surprises and a good deal of humor.
--Lake Superior Magazine
Many of the truths he [Bates] discovers are universal, and his observations on the natural world can be shared no matter where you live . . . This is a wonderful book.
--Silent Sports Magazine