A Year of Iowa Nature
“Carl Kurtz is a photographer who blooms where he is rooted. He puts into words and images what people who love nature and the Midwest wish they could say and do. Each image and comment provides something to think about beyond the week they were originally shared.”—Linda and Robert Scarth, authors, Deep Nature: Photographs from Iowa
Every Sunday evening for almost ten years, Iowa photographer and naturalist Carl Kurtz has e-mailed a photo and an extended caption to hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts. Engaging and informative, the photos focus on the world around and away from his tallgrass prairie homeplace: snow buntings in a blizzard, maple leaves in fall, migrating snow geese and red-winged blackbirds and monarchs, prairie spiderworts in spring bloom, leopard frogs loafing on waterlily leaves, northern flickers feeding young, and all the inhabitants and moods of the passing seasons. Now, in A Year of Iowa Nature, he presents fifty-five of his favorite photos along with an evocative introduction that urges us to go forth and discover the beauty in our own backyards.
Concentrating on Iowa’s tallgrass prairie, Kurtz also points his viewfinder toward the great variety of natural habitats in the eastern United States. Arranged chronologically throughout the year, the fifty-five color photos and their accompanying narratives rotate through the seasons like a nature film. The winter months showcase a frost-covered white-tailed deer, cedar waxwings feeding on winter apples, a muskrat on the surface of an icy pond, and dune-like snowdrifts. Kurtz’s palette warms up in springtime with stunning photos of Virginia bluebells, fox cubs, juvenile chipmunks, and ruddy ducks. Summer brings a host of butterflies, frogs, and goldfinches as well as blooming prairie plants. The colors become more subdued in fall with the change in light, revealing the rich hues of Indian grass and big bluestem and the subtle plumage of migrating warblers.
Just as Kurtz’s Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction offers an indispensable manual for individuals and land managers working to create a diverse prairie community, so does A Year of Iowa Nature point the way toward a sincere, month-by-month appreciation of the natural world around us.