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Singing Wilderness

4.35  ·  Rating Details ·  361 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
to do with the calling of loons, with northern lights, and the great silences of land lying northwest of Lake Superior. It is concerned with the simple joys, the timelessness and perspective found in a way of life which is close to the past. I have heard the singing in many places, but I seem to hear it best in the wilderness lake country of the Quetico-Superior, where tra ...more
ebook, 245 pages
Published May 30th 2012 by Knopf (first published 1956)
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(showing 1-30 of 808)
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May 24, 2014 Happyreader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
Perfect reading while watching the mist roll out on Nina Moose Lake in the Boundary Waters. Essays reflective of so many moods, just like the BWCA experience, where the lakes can quickly transform from high waves whipped by driving winds to gorgeous still glass reflecting the sunset. Tried reading this while still in the city but only in the wilderness did I slow down enough to enjoy these meditative essays on favorite canoeing routes, fishing spots, wilderness landscapes, and wildlife encounter ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Singing Wilderness" is notable both for Sigurd F. Olson's writing and for Francis Lee Jaques' illustrations. Published in 1956, the author's essays describe the wild country of northern Minnesota and nearby Canada. A glance at some of the titles of Olson's chapters, which are organized primarily by season, can give you a sense of the range that he covers: "The Winds of March," "Smell of the Morning," "The Way of a Canoe," "Forest Pool," "The Red Squirrel," "Pine Knots," "Smoky Gold," "Comin ...more
May 30, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a writer, Sigurd Olson is a lyrical evangelist for wild places. In particular, he writes about one of my favorite wild places, the Boundary Waters/Quetico in northern Minnesota and Canada. I have traveled there many times, and Olson perfectly captures the sense of awe this place inspires in me and many others. His essays both describe the experience of traveling in the wilderness, and relate lessons Olson gleaned over the years of studying the landscape and its many diverse inhabitants, from ...more
Doug Gordon
Apr 20, 2014 Doug Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic literary work on nature. A Sand County Almanac for the Northwoods. Sigurd Olson's writing feeds my adventurer's heart like no other writer's. I find myself returning to it again and again, rereading his stories and essays as devotionals which reconnect me to the heart of wilderness.
Jan 08, 2014 Heather marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
“The woods are ready, and as the zero hour approaches, an even greater silence settles down over the north. There is a moment of suspense when the quiet can be felt, when it presses down on everything. Suddenly the air is white with drifting flakes, and the tension is gone. Down they come, settling on the leaves, into the crevices in bark, on the lichen-covered rocks, disintegrating immediately into more and more wetness. Then almost magically the ground is no longer brown, but speckled with whi ...more
Jan 15, 2008 Sev-o rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic nature piece. A collection of essays written by Olson from the mid-1930's to the late 1950's. Most written with the goal of influencing public opinion on the protection of wilderness areas. Arranged by season the essays brought (and bring) the wilderness of what is now the BWCA and Quetico Provincial Park to many whom never have experienced it. Through amazingly descriptive writing and with detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna as well as the areas geology Olson takes you on his ...more
Jan 11, 2010 Maja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"It was there we saw the first haze of light green over the hills, the budding-out of the aspen. That was another reason for an early trip: to see those slopes in the ephemeral hours before they had begun to darken, while they were still misty and pastel. Grayish-white drifts of the large-toothed aspen and the rose of budding maple made poetry on every shore. One must be on time to see these things, for they do not wait."

This book is a new favourite, to be treasured by anyone that wishes to kee
Oct 05, 2013 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Great book--"The Singing Wilderness" consists of a series of essays by the outdoorsman and naturist, Sigurd Olson. The essays are ordered by season, from canoeing in the summer to snowshoeing in the Winter. Olson spent a lot of time during his life in the Quetico-Superior wilderness area in Northern Minnesota. He does a great job of describing the land and its magic. A must for anyone who feels the same way about the wilderness areas in Northern Minnesota and Canada.
Matt Ihli Ihli
Dec 07, 2012 Matt Ihli Ihli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Singing Wilderness is a summary of Sigurd Olson's travels throughout the North Woods of Minnesota. In this book, Olson discovers the spirituality that the North Woods has to offer through the sights and sounds of the wilderness. I would definitely recommend this book to anybody who is interested in the Minnesota Wilderness or the spirituality of the wilderness.
Dec 04, 2014 Angie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about the peace you find in the wilderness, whether canoeing, hiking, or just observing from the steps of one's cabin. Sigurd Olson put to words the things I have felt deeply in my heart about the woods of Minnesota and Wisconsin. This book sang to my soul.
Dec 27, 2008 Lynette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An very pleasant read about the passion Olson had for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the plant and animal life he spent his life enjoying and protecting. Lovely and short reflections on his wilderness experience. I read it while we were staying in a lovely cabine 8 miles west of Ely, MN.
Aug 09, 2008 Dick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
I actually have an earlier edition. I love these books. If you love the wilds or like the idea of loving the wilds, these collections of thought will captivate you. Especially if you have experienced the Boundary Waters region in Minnesota. Sigurd Olson is the wilderness canoist's godfather.
May 03, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Lyrical. Olson's beautifully written memories of time--literally seasons--in the wilderness put we right there with him. Even in my little bit of wilderness a few feet from the house I feel that grounding to the earth. His writing tapped that and was itself a wilderness experience.
May 29, 2012 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you been to Minnesota or the North country? Have you experienced solitude and the peace that comes from just "being" in the wilderness? The author goes through each season describing the details of the wilderness in a musical manner. This book is very calming!
Krista S.
Aug 09, 2010 Krista S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book, if you love the BWCA, or any wilderness area... He puts words to a lot of feelings wilderness invokes. However, not an 'exiting read' for those not into such husband couldn't get through it.
Nov 15, 2008 Tessa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, poetic writing--as someone who has spent many summers in the Boundary Waters, this book places me right back in the midst of that natural splendor.
Didn't finish, but what I read I liked, but it was just sort of all the same. Would be great if intermingled with other work about the outdoors.
Kate Mcnierney
Jun 28, 2010 Kate Mcnierney is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Olson's writings about canoeing and the wilderness very much. I will be reading chapters from this book occasionally through the summer.
Tom Baker
Sep 20, 2014 Tom Baker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sigurd as naturalist extraordinaire. Loved the Boundary Waters and Quetico as I do. We owe him our eternal thanks.
A good writer from the Northwoods. A good read if you're headed to the Bounder Waters.
May 05, 2009 Karla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book was ok but I'm spoiled by Helen Hoover...enjoyed her so much more.
Sep 01, 2009 Hadley marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Had to buy used on Amazon. BPL didn't have it. Can't wait to get it.
Apr 11, 2013 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love, love, love the whole series--so this was another great read.
Feb 05, 2013 Coleenlou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book to read, and read again.
Dec 28, 2008 Abe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feels like sitting by a warm fire.
Own hardcover 1976 version
Craig Werner
Add a star if you're someone who breaks into a smile when you hear the word "portage" or feel a sense of disappointment when the winter temperature just refuses to go below 10. (If you're not one of those people, I can assure you after living in Wisconsin for 30 years that they actually exist.)

The best parts of The Singing Wilderness, a series of short essays arranged by the cycle of the seasons in the border region between Minnesota and Wisconsin and Canada, are those where Olson simply observe
Hal Hansen
Jan 19, 2016 Hal Hansen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tremendous of my favorites, if not THE favorite. A great book to be read in spurts, not a hurry through. Better than "A Sand County Almanac"
Kevin Proescholdt
Probably the best of Sigurd Olson's books.
Sep 19, 2016 Bet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book about being in wilderness. It makes me think I should find a cabin in the woods and just watch and listen. The language is a bit flowery, but Sigurd Olson knows his wilderness, its plants and animals, its special places and weather. If you can't be there, his writing is the next best thing. The kind of book you want to turn to now and then.
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Sigurd F. Olson was an American author, environmentalist, and advocate for the protection of wilderness. For more than thirty years, he served as a wilderness guide in the lakes and forests of the Quetico-Superior country of northern Minnesota and northeastern Ontario. He was known honorifically as the Bourgeois — a term the voyageurs of old used of their trusted leaders.
More about Sigurd F. Olson...

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