JUST PUBLISHED in fall 2016, with photos by Frank Wisniewski, is Soldiers Delight Journal REVISITED: A Photographic Ramble. This large-format, high-quality art book celebrates the 25th anniversary of the journal. Over 165 photos illustrate passages from the original SDJ. Available at the Soldiers Delight NEA Visitor Center in Owings Mills, MD, or by e-mailing Jack from this website.

Red-backed Salamander from Soldiers Delight Journal REVISITED _______________________________

PUBLISHED IN 2012
227 pages

The surprising sequel to Soldiers Delight Journal.



REVIEWS, Soldiers Delight Journal (1995):

“So sharp is Mr. Wennerstrom’s eye, so burnished his style, that his Soldiers Delight Journal may have the perverse effect of attracting too much notice… Henry David Thoreau would have admired this wild serpentine grassland, and this book.”— James Bready, Baltimore Sun

“NATURALIST'S MEDITATION ON SOLDIERS DELIGHT IS QUIETLY BRILLIANT”—“An artful writer who gracefully mixes science with wonder. This is a reflective, descriptive and fact-filled account of one year in the life of the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, a globally-rare, 2,000-acre prairie remnant in northwest Baltimore County.”—Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Sun

“He does his research, but he’s able to combine that kind of overview with a poet’s or a novelist’s understanding of writing. He is someone upon whom nothing is lost, and he helps his readers discover a natural world nearby that they might otherwise overlook. He combines scientific accuracy with a deeply felt appreciation of nature’s wonders.” -- Cover Story, Diane La Morte, Owings Mills Times

Autographed copies available at $9.95 (paper), $11.95 (cloth); please email. _____________________________


REVIEWS, Leaning Sycamores (1996):

“What has saved the tall sycamores of the upper Potomac, Jack Wennerstrom theorizes, is their failure to lend themselves to human convenience… too bad for utilitarians, but bully for lovers of majesty.” -- “Hardcovers in Brief”, Washington Post Book World

“In a progression of ten engaging chapters, Wennerstrom explores the entire multi-leveled Potomac River ecosystem (and) chronicles people’s interaction with the river, spinning tales of the canal, the railroads, the little waterside towns. Wennerstrom has a gift for the striking observation (and his) approach to his subject is refreshingly original, sometimes even disconcerting.” -- Carolyn Sutterfield, Mid-Atlantic Country

“Every once in a blue moon a book comes along that’s so good a book-reviewer can’t find the right words with which to praise it – and in any case, most of the usual ones already appear on the dust jacket: ‘eloquent,’ ‘passionate,' 'graceful,’ 'memorable,’ and, of course, ‘beautifully written.’ All there. And all true…” -- David Bonta, Pennsylvania Audubon Newsletter

Autographed copies available at $14.95 (cloth); please email.

Non-Fiction

"Snow-flocked Woods", from Soldiers Delight Journal REVISITED, with photos by Frank Wisniewski. Now available through a limited edition. _________________________________________





BOOK EXCERPTS:

“When alone I feel more alert and somehow more resourceful. Stimuli strike in bunches, are digested more completely, and used to build fresh thought, new wonder. I say nothing foolish for there is no one there to listen. At such times ‘alone’, in fact, is not quite what I am. I am companioned by all my senses, which fan out and search with me as though my private band of woodsmen, fanatically devoted. There is no need to plan a rendezvous, to debate which routes are best, or to set a time for lunch. They share my wants and opinions. When it is over we will all meet back at the house or car, simultaneously, with infallible precision.”
-- SOLDIERS DELIGHT JOURNAL


“Nothing about the sycamore is quite settled or expected, despite its venerable age. Its seeds are queer, its stature when grandest is gouty, its oldest leaves tenderly peach-fuzzed. It does not flame in autumn but understates its tones, defers instead to its oracle of limbs, its cream and buff and pewter skin that whispers with shadow and bursts with change, failing to suffer growth seamlessly like most of its placid neighbors. It is something like our own mother earth, ancient but erupting through its surface for all the force it mantles. It is the callow giant of the Greenland woods, one hundred million years young, bursting and writhing like an imperfect youth still adjusting to the hulk it has become.”
-- LEANING SYCAMORES



NEW MILLENNIUM JOURNAL:

"January 1: How does this new year -- some say this new millennium -- really strike me? With hope at first, and joy. But when I take stock in the daylight it is of all the old webs of decay and disgust. How did we spin such a trap for ourselves? America is a country being overtaken by greed and violence, the result of rootlessness, ignorance, self-delusion, over-population, and the flaws of human nature, which are pandered to by cads disguised as heroes, their interests mere fame and profit. Why can I not see it otherwise?"



"January 12: Middle age: what we have done we mostly forget, so that life seems shorter still, even less swelled by accomplishment, a glass of transparent liquid whose fullness is difficult to gauge. And yet now I grow into the past, see connections in lives I study that were invisible when I was young. In 1955 I thought 1938 was impossibly remote, where now it seems almost yesterday. As does 1923, or 1896. The more I probe geology and the history of the earth, the evolution of species, the biographies of men, the more I see my life as a flash, see the allotted span of three-score-and-ten as little more than a blink, see how the sense of time itself becomes broader and richer with age, a lens of magnification that grows stronger with each year."



"April 7: Saw a red fox several times. It seemed to follow some line back and forth, perhaps as it cached some food. This fox still retains its fear of men, while others have grown less wary. Is it fear that sustains true wildness? Or will fear always give in to need? Indeed, what makes something "wild"? I suspect it's less what it is than what it isn't. Wildness isn't social. It doesn't respond to greetings. It will not eat from a plate. It doesn't pose for tourists. It cannot be your buddy. It will not steal your lunch. It doesn't go near your car. It has never tasted beer. It's too big to fit in your lens. It's too long to fit in your notebook. It's too grand to fit in your head. And yet there is wildness in a drop of water. In a mosquito on a screen. In the iris of a milk-lapping cat. It is a paradox of life that all its disparate elements mingle latent in each cell. In some part of my being, I am as wild as the fox in the woods, and he is as tame as me. In the wildest savage urbanity dwells; in the mildest urbanite, savageness."



"July 14: The cicadas are calling, and it churns up things deep inside me... All the veneers of culture do not erase my impulse to behave and think elementally. When the locusts call I wish to be prowling, astir on some great tidal marshland, or some river that winds through the hills, spearing or shooting from a boat or canoe, watching the ways of animals, peering down into pools at colossal fish or reptiles, gorging myself with midsummer fruits, smoking my skin at some campfire, falling asleep under stars so bright that I dream of them till dawn, have adventures that lift me from the earth."



"October 17: Autumn continues mild. Even the small rains are warm, the leaves tickling softly with drops, the mist not lifting till noon. In fall we see cycles of ourselves; we are not covered up by green. We are curling, wrinkling things, like the restless leaves of the trees; our flesh crackles to its death, darkens and toughens and sags. We are ripest in our decay, fat with a lifetime's storage, a winey half-sour pith, just as we plump to earth."



"December 21: The winter solstice and the festivals of faith. To love the play of light one must wait till it is dark. Yet the so-called eternal verities are not truth and beauty, but rather conflict and change. Nothing is more elusive than the truth, nothing as ephemeral as beauty. Instead it's resistance that drives the world, the galaxy, the universe. Gravity fights us to our death-beds, yet gravity made us strong. And flux is the steadfast rule. In response to what wears it down, everything changes and moves. We are lovely because we struggle; sturdy because we must perish."




Creative Non-Fiction:

Worldviews
In this surprising sequel to the acclaimed Soldiers Delight Journal, Wennerstrom stakes out a quiet place between city and country to study the world past and present.
Natural History/History
A lyrical probe of the upper Potomac River's rich human and natural history, especially its hidden corners and ghostly legacies.
Natural History
A year-long serendipitous walking exploration of a unique prairie environment just seven miles outside Baltimore, Maryland. _____________________________________

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