In these times of technological innovation and fast-paced electronic communication, we often take nature for granted—or even consider it a hindrance to our human endeavors. In Whispers and Shadows: A Naturalist’s Memoir, Jerry Apps explores such topics as the human need for wilderness, rediscovering a sense of wonder, and his father’s advice to “listen for the whispers” and “look in the shadows” to learn nature’s deepest lessons.
Combining his signature lively storytelling and careful observations of nature, Apps draws on a lifetime of experiences, from his earliest years growing up on a central Wisconsin farm to his current ventures as gardener, tree farmer, and steward of wetlands, prairies, and endangered Karner blue butterflies. He also takes inspiration from the writings of Aldo Leopold, Annie Dillard, Henry David Thoreau, Sigurd Olson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry, Richard Louv, and Rachel Carson. With these eloquent essays, Jerry Apps reminds us to slow down, turn off technology, and allow our senses to reconnect us to the natural world. For it is there, he writes, that “I am able to return to a feeling I had when I was a child, a feeling of having room to stretch my arms without interfering with another person, a feeling of being a small part of something much larger than I was, and I marvel at the idea.”