Saturday, 22 November 2014

Wandering Through Winter

Edwin Way Teale
Wandering Through Winter: An adventurous 20,000 mile journey through the North American winter
Illustrated with 49 black and white photographs by the author
370 pages
Dodd, Mead & Company, New York (1965)
This coast-to-coast journey, which took the author and his travelling companion Nellie from southern California to north of Caribou, Maine during the winter of 1961–2, is the predictable last instalment of a series that documents journeys in the USA during each of the four seasons. This is not nature writing elevated to the pitch of Lopez or Thoreau but rather an easy-going travelogue, Sunday-supplement style. (The author might have benefited from Thoreau’s injunction to look closely at one place rather than swiftly at many.) Nevertheless, Wandering Through Winter is included here on the strength of its representation of ice conditions in parts of North America that other writers may have overlooked in their headlong rush for the arctic regions. While not all the areas through which Teale travels experience freezing temperatures in winter, he has plentiful opportunities to observe ice, including a historic ice jam at the Alton Dam of the Mississippi, an ice storm in Indiana, and – when contemporary ice is lacking – the bones of ‘Ice Age elephants’ in Big Bone Lick. Illustrations include cataracts of ice in the Adirondacks and the snowshoe maker Charles Holway at work in Maine.

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