The Suburban Wild

Title Details

Pages: 136

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 08/01/2019

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5717-1

List Price: $24.95


Pub Date: 11/04/1999

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2134-9

List Price: $29.95

The Suburban Wild

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Set in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, amid traffic, pollution, and ever-increasing neighborhoods of houses and apartments, these meditative personal essays explore the importance of our connection with the natural world, history, and memory. The Suburban Wild follows the seasons from one spring to the next, celebrating the natural miracles we frequently miss and revealing a territory less tamed than we might imagine. These essays offer the sights and sounds found on the outskirts of cities, just perceptible amid the clutter and din of crowded streets and sidewalks. From the constant humming of cicadas on summer evenings and the seasonal migrations of ducks to the myriad hues in a green heron's feathers, Peter Friederici reveals a complex place in which wild geese and morning commuters share the same habitat.

The essays honor our lost creatures and places, emphasizing the importance of history, memory, and consciousness. The author describes the varying shades and textures of a clay bluff near his childhood home, relating the gradual erosion and recession of this Ice Age-old landform. A description of spirogyra algae blooms on Lake Michigan merges with a discussion of the lake's once abundant native mussels and the imported zebra mussels that are threatening their existence. From recorded memories, Friederici re-creates the sight of the now extinct passenger pigeon. Though awareness of the destruction of the landscape and its creatures is never far from the wonders presented here, The Suburban Wild connects the tracks of wildlife and traces of our changing landscape with our own path through the world. The book explores how history—whether natural or cultural, collective or personal—shapes a landscape, and how human memory shapes that history. At heart, it seeks to forge a link between the world outside our windows and the one inside.

The tattering of the great American wilderness is a source of lament, but this book offers eloquent witness to the beauty and complexity that live along the edges of urban life. Peter Friederici is an inspired guide to these half-wild places, combining heartful appreciation with scientific precision. His devotion to seeing and learning the significance of what he sees reveals once again the ancient lesson that the love of nature is one of the central organizing principles of human life.

—Alison Hawthorne Deming

Friederici's edge is that he combines beautiful writing with training as a field biologist. He comes up with a book that is both touching and intellectually engaging, a book that appeals to both the heart and the head.

—Flagstaff Live

These essays break our hearts with visions of what is gone, even as they encourage us to celebrate the many treasures that remain.

—Arizona Daily Sun

Celebrating the wildness that pervades the patches between roads, buildings and parking lots in urban America, The Suburban Wild addresses a question that gains increasing importance as more and more of the world converts to concrete jungle: How does wildness adapt to survive and thrive in a human-dominated world?

—E: The Environmental Magazine

[Friederici] enables readers to recognize the beauty and mystery of the most ordinary surroundings . . . and he makes the leap from the deeply personal to the universal as gracefully as a green heron poised in perfect stillness on a dead tree will suddenly take to the sky. . . . The Suburban Wild is close to poetry in its lyrical compression and imagery.

—Chicago Tribune

[Friederici] realizes that his sense of loss over the destruction of the wilderness (so eloquently expressed) is felt by many, a pervasive sorrow with profound implications.


[Friederici] does a superb job of blending natural history, evocative description, and environmental ethics.

—Publishers Weekly

About the Author/Editor

PETER FRIEDERICI was raised in the suburbs of Chicago and now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he directs the Sustainable Communities program at Northern Arizona University. His writings on connections between people and place have been widely published in magazines and journals. His books include Nature's Restoration: People and Places on the Front Lines of Conservation and, with photographer Peter Goin, A New Form of Beauty: Glen Canyon beyond Climate Change.