A Wilder Time

Notes from a Ge­ol­o­gist at the Edge of the Green­land Ice

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Climate Change - BY RE­BECCA FOS­TER

Wil­liam E. Glass­ley, Belle­vue Lit­er­ary Press (FE­BRU­ARY), Soft­cover $17.99 (224pp), 978-1-942658-34-4

Eighty per­cent of Green­land is cov­ered by ice. That makes it an in­hos­pitable set­ting, cer­tainly, but it’s “a dream” for sci­en­tists, Wil­liam E. Glass­ley writes. In A Wilder Time, an ac­count of the ge­ol­o­gist’s re­search jour­neys, he con­veys his im­pres­sions of this re­mote and for­bid­ding land­scape in po­etic, en­thu­si­as­tic lan­guage.

Along with his re­search part­ners Kai Sørensen and John Korstgård, Glass­ley camps for weeks at a time in the wilder­ness of West Green­land. Icy wa­ter and mos­qui­toes make bathing a dreaded chore. Yet if the tun­dra is a bleak en­vi­ron­ment, it is con­sis­tently bright­ened by un­ex­pected en­coun­ters with the nat­u­ral world—ev­ery­thing from bum­ble­bees and Arc­tic wrens to the Fata Mor­gana. From the small­est lichen to the most im­pos­ing fjord, it is a place of won­ders.

When Glass­ley first ar­rived, the dis­tance from the hus­tle of ev­ery­day life gave him space to re­flect on his di­vorce and the com­ple­tion of his PHD. Green­land still of­fers him si­lence in which to med­i­tate on the way time makes its mark on hu­man lives as well as on the land­scape: he fan­ci­fully calls Earth a “manuscript” that doc­u­ments the course of evo­lu­tion.

Quo­ta­tions from An­nie Dil­lard, John Muir, and more po­si­tion this work in a venerable tra­di­tion of na­ture writ­ing. Com­bin­ing the strengths of travel writ­ing and lyri­cal mem­oir, Glass­ley trans­lates his own “in­can­des­cent ex­pe­ri­ence of place” into a con­ser­va­tion mes­sage: “We must share and cel­e­brate the wild so that it might be saved.”

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