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Settled in the Wild: Notes from the Edge of Town    by Susan Hand Shetterly order for
Settled in the Wild
by Susan Hand Shetterly
Order:  USA  Can
Algonquin, 2010 (2010)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

For three decades the author and her family lived in a rural area of Maine where the forest and coastal shoreline came together. Between working as a freelance writer, raising her two children, and occasional stints cleaning and cutting herring at a nearby fish cannery, Shetterly savored her simple existence living in a semi-isolated cabin.

The short vignettes in this collection chronicle not only the writer's interaction with her New England neighbors but also the experiences she enjoyed as a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. Whether it's musing on a walk along the nearby tidal mudflat looking at the bird population, rescuing a little wild hare from a bobcat, or caring for an injured garter snake she found on one of her junkets, Shetterly captures the wonder of living close to nature.

There are more poignant moments when she accompanies a wildlife biologist as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee tries to rebalance the wildlife environment on a local island by setting out poison for sea gulls which are decimating the tern population by eating their eggs and chicks.

Shetterly also shares a confrontation with a neighbor who traps coyotes and sells their pelts for $100 each. After her dog stumbles into one of his traps, the two have a less than amiable conversation. After she tells him his trapping is a lousy idea, Ray, a long time resident of the area, replies, 'You people give us a good laugh. You 'wetlands' people. We laugh at that a little bit, you know.'

Although they eventually patched up their differences, this unpleasant episode illustrates the differences between those who lived off the land and the outsiders who moved in and then tried to conserve the remaining open land.

As Shetterly chronicles some of the best and worst experiences she has had living near Gouldsboro, Maine, she shares her profound love and appreciation of nature. A quick read, this exceedingly well written memoir is not only highly entertaining but it may also tempt the reader to get out and enjoy the wilderness areas near his or her home.

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