The Other End of the Driveway
An amateur naturalist’s observations in the Maine woods
by Dana Wilde
Dana Wilde combines natural science lessons with entertaining story telling in “The Other End of the Driveway.” I found myself making mental notes while reading about blue birds and hummingbirds, comparing them to my own experiences, nodding my head in agreement as I read. October sunshine came through the window as I read October Light. Wilde’s stories pull you in, making you feel as though they’re happening around you. You might be sitting at Big Rock in Sandy Stream Pond in Baxter State Park or on the loveseat in front of the fire with a cup of coffee as you read.
Wilde takes your imagination to the shore where you’ll see the eyes of a horseshoe crab in your imagination. He perfectly describes the dying world outside the window in late November and the physique of curmudgeonly toads. During a walk behind his home in Troy, looking for nothing in particular, Wild finds cat, rabbit and bear tracks, signs of what happens in the winter woods when nobody is looking.
“The Other End of the Driveway” includes some of Wilde’s experiences in Bulgaria and Northern Ireland, along with other places, taking you far from the driveway. Wilde makes you think when he compares science and the Bible. Short, interesting explanations of why both could be correct held my interest. His essays center around time spent carefully observing nature.
A pair of phoebes that nest outside the bathroom window reminds Wilde of his “lilac years” with Bonnie, his wife. This particular pair of phoebes are playful and seem to enjoy each others company, not a common trait of phoebes.
Dana Wilde’s essays of Maine’s natural world are a joy to read. It’s perfect for a busy person who has 20 minutes to read. You can read an essay, put the book down and not lose your place. It will leave you wanting to squeeze in three more pages before you go to sleep. You’ll learn something, probably from each essay, that will make you think about a topic long after you finished the book.