Bird Cloud

Annie Proulx’s first non-fiction work in more than 20 years.

Bird Cloud is one part home renovation, one part natural history and one part family history as Annie describes building a home on a 640-acre property in Wyoming. Written in Proulx’s masterful prose, this book gives texture, shape and color to topics as everyday as inspecting a pine cone.

The cones caught my attention first, cone-bearing end branches bitten off by squirrels who found it easier to cut the branch tips, watch them fall, then race down the tree and stockpile the nutritious cones under roots and fallen logs. I often saw their middens in the forest, huge heaps of discarded seed husks. One day I brought a squirrel-severed branch of the tightly closed, prickly cones home and left them on the big table. They were fastened asymmetrically so tightly to the branch that it was impossible to break or pull them off. For a few days they stayed as impregnable as clams, then started to open, spilling out their winged seeds, so like translucent insect wings, a pale brown the color of swamp water.

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