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The Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  50 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
When people connect with nature, they do so in a specific place, and "The Thunder Tree" shows how that connection can change a life forever, how roots in the earth can be as important as roots in a family. For Robert Pyle, that place was the Highline Canal in Denver, Colorado. When he first discovered it as a boy in the 1950s, the canal was largely a wasteland, but it beca ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by The Lyons Press (first published April 1993)
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Aug 29, 2015 LucidStyle rated it it was amazing
To think that natural experiences like those Robert Pyle had are becoming extinct due to current social trends away from, resultant disinterest in, and lack of historical concern toward nature is distressful and deeply worrisome. Pyle's voice in this book both shares his own childhood natural experiences as well as brings up fundamental points in humans' problems of management and maintenance of these natural areas. It is a lovely, personal telling and borders on heartbreaking.

Having lived in Co
Sandy D.
This is a hard book to summarize. I think the different chapters work better as free-standing essays. Some of them waxed so eloquent I was in tears, and others I had to struggle to finish because I got mired in the plants, ecological relationships, and butterfly species Pyle describes. If you have an interest in Denver and its history or water use in the west, you’ll also like this, but I imagine that isn’t a huge group of readers.

It is an autobiographical work that combines personal stories abo
Jan 09, 2017 Susan rated it really liked it
A wonderful series of essays about the High Line Canal, featuring some fascinating insight into the beginnings of the suburban lifestyle in Aurora. Many other environmental themes are woven through the pages that resonated with me, and made me wonder about my own preferences related to landscaping and water use.

This book is a must read for those who have grown up in Douglas County, or anywhere near the canal. The recollections and reflections of the author transform this waterway from an irrigat
Bluff Lake
Dec 15, 2011 Bluff Lake rated it really liked it
Too often we jump in the car when we want to experience nature. In The Thundertree, Robert Pyle's powerful memoir about growing up near Denver's High Line Canal, he reminds us that nature is right outside our door, just waiting to be discovered. As we read how he bonded with the land, we are inspired to preserve open spaces so that all children will have the chance to discover them. Highly recommended.
Aug 16, 2007 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A friend and I recently had a conversation about whether or not Bob Pyle is the most important nature writer working in America today. Our conclusion was that if he's not, he's definitely one of the most important because his work breaks down the dangerous distinction between natural and non-natural by looking at wildness in urban settings. This book, which focuses around the High Line Canal in Denver, shows how much nature can be found in a supposedly non-natural urban setting.
Mar 01, 2008 Jennifer rated it liked it
Recommended to Jennifer by: Rick Darke's Reading List
Shelves: half-read
I was surprised to find this book is written about a the High Line Canal in Denver, Colorado. Written in the introduction it is a "love song to damaged lands, serenade for all such places."

While nicely written, switching back and forth from personal anecdotes to information on issues about canals, dams and water rights, I wasn't able to stay with this book until the end. Perhaps, it is not the right time.

Feb 18, 2015 Karla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My friend challenged me to hike the entire Highline Canal in the winter of 2014-2015. Her friend, a retired Denver Water Department employee loaned us this book. Part reminiscences of a childhood before the video game age, part City of Aurora history, part instruction on cottonwoods and butterflies, it is a diverse book. I most enjoy "seeing" the canal through the author's eyes in the distant past and comparing it with my vision of the canal as I walk it now.
Sep 08, 2013 Cameo rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic. Advised to anyone who ever knew nature (and hopefully that is everyone.) I had a chance to meet Robert Pyle at a speaking, and he is a genuine and wonderful person. This is clear throughout the entirety of the book- he is very open and honest with his readers, and his book is beautifully crafted.
Jul 08, 2012 Roman rated it really liked it
Looking back on his childhood the author describes how his childhood haunts were degraded due to habitat loss. Coupled with an often poignant personal narrative I found the author's account echoed my childhood experiences in many ways.
Oct 13, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it
A good read - reminiscing about Pyle's life in Colorado along a canal where he learned to love the natural world around him.
Sep 12, 2011 Debra marked it as books-i-didn-t-finish
Shelves: science
Right now it looks like I decided not to finish this book, given the huge amount of time since I started it. Not so - we moved in the interim and book is still lost in packing box hell.
Josephine Ensign
Oct 22, 2016 Josephine Ensign rated it really liked it
This was an excellent antidote to election-year craziness—like taking a long, meandering walk in the woods along a babbling brook.
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Robert Michael Pyle is a lepidopterist and a professional writer who has published twelve books and hundreds of papers, essays, stories and poems. He has a Ph.D. from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. He founded the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in 1974. His acclaimed 1987 book Wintergreen describing the devastation caused by unrestrained logging i ...more
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