A Kansas Year
Ask most folks to depict a year, and they'll show you a calendar. Ask veteran naturalist Mike Blair, and he'll show you the wonders to be found in Kansas, season by season.
Mike Blair has spent a lifetime outdoors, venturing beyond fences to closely observe "natural things" while recording his observations in both words and images. In this sumptuous book he presents some of those observations as the cycle of a year, beginning with a hike through January's deep snowdrifts that "gets you down to business" only to later encounter the white driftings of summer as cottonwood seeds take to the air.
“Although Kansas by title and locale, this small-format book (6 x 9 inches) will interest a wide audience, its photos and written text relating, with a few exceptions, as much to the entire Great Plains region as to a single geopolitical entity. . . . I recommend this book to those who want to learn more about not only the natural history but also the beauty of the Great Plains.”
—Great Plains Research
“Best book of the year (2009) by a Kansas author . Using the form of journal entries with splendid color photos, Mike Blair has gathered reminders of the everyday natural wonders of Kansas throughout the year. Some of the entries are informative; others are pure poetry. But they are all delightful, and bear repeated readings, a season at a time.”
—Wichita EagleSee all reviews...
“Numerous beautiful color photographs of plants, animals, and landscapes . . . and journal entries for each month of the year. Four distinct, changing seasons—so well depicted here—and extreme weather swings always keep one guessing and make life in the Sunflower State interesting, even for the native. . . . A compelling journey.”
—Kansas History "The book begins in January and takes readers through a journey of what is possible in any given Kansas year. . . . Each of the book’s 259 pages contains some image, captured through Blair’s lens, of Kansas life—fox kits playing with each other, a whitetail shedding his antlers’ velvet and a June bug pulling against a thread tether. And each photo comes with a description of that day and how the photo came to exist."—
“Through stunning photographs and evocative prose, Blair celebrates the plants, animals, and weather of Kansas. From winter on the High Plains prairie to fall colors in the eastern Kansas hardwood forest, he captures the cycle of the Kansas seasons. Read this, and Kansas will never look the same.”
—Rex Buchanan, coauthor of Roadside Kansas
“Blair&8217;s remarkable photography skills, coupled with his biologists knowledge and thoughtful reflections, have created this unique review of Kansas through the year. Sit back and enjoy!”
—Bob Gress, coauthor of Faces of the Great Plains: Prairie Wildlife
“Takes a reader through the wild seasons of Kansas in a way that few have experienced.”
—Joseph T. Collins, coauthor of Kansas Wildlife
“A Kansas Year will surprise and delight.”
—Kelly Kindscher, author of Edible Wild Plants of the PrairieSee fewer reviews...
A Kansas Year is a breathtaking journey through the seasons. In dazzling color photographs, Blair illuminates the magic of Kansas through 120 journal entries—ten per month—that capture the beauty of the Sunflower State's wild places. Through his lens, we watch the land "green from the bottom up" in Spring, then later witness colors glowing in Autumn's soft and muted light. And through his contemplations, we learn much about the natural world and our connections to it.
In text that is both personal and inspiring, Blair shares his knowledge of plants and insects, wildlife behavior and weather. From the tomato hornworms found in most gardens to the seldom-noticed migration of monarch butterflies, he shows us things we may overlook every day-and what we might hope to see if we only look a little harder. His entries on cedar rust and bark beetles will inform the curious, just as his images of fox kits and birds of prey will enthrall anyone who treasures such sightings.
Covering the breadth of the state, Blair's captivating book appeals equally to the emotions and intellect, to the seasoned naturalist as well as the casual observer. It opens our eyes to genuine joy and allows us to see time in a new way. It is a book to be savored throughout the year—and one sure to lure readers out of doors to discover and rediscover these wild places and wildlife on their own.