Well known for his imaginative treatment of environmental issues, Kevin Dann presents a natural history of the Lewis Creek watershed in Vermont's Champlain Valley, told largely through the lives and thought of three individuals,whose investigations brought them into close contact with the area. Congregationalist minister John Perry (1825 - 1872) conducted paleontological research on the region's Paleozoic rock and attempted to negotiate his era's confrontation between science and religion. Rowland Robinson (1833 - 1900) was a Quaker farmer and author/artist whose historical fiction often dealt with issues of human impact on this watershed. The first plant-hunting expeditions of another Quaker farmer and noted plant collector, Cyrus Pringle (1838 - 1911), took place in this watershed as well.
Dann's account of these three men, whose lives span nearly a century, graphically illustrates contemporary human-nature relationships at the same time that it suggests the limits of science in circumscribing our experience of the physical landscape. The experience of pain and loss is documented along with the stories of success and celebration, since, as Dann writes, "Genuine places, like human hearts, have dark recesses within them, and by examining these recesses within the Lewis Creek watershed, we take a small step toward demythologizing Vermont."