Of Woodland Pools, Spring-holes & Ditches

Woodland pools, spring-holes and ditches are all terms used by Henry David Thoreau to describe vernal pools; ephemeral springtime wetlands that often dry up in the summer and are vital breeding habitats for many species ranging from wood frogs, spadefoot toads, spotted salamanders, and fairy shrimp. In New England these pools are an important part of the landscape and the rites of spring. One sure sign of spring is the call of the spring peeper, a diminutive tree frog that breeds in vernal pools. In Thoreau’s journal he often mentions these frogs: “Where so long I heard only the brattling and moaning of the wind, what means this tenser, far-piercing sound? All nature rejoices with one joy. If the Hyla (spring peeper) has revived again, may not I?” March 21, 1853

Selected entries were chosen from Thoreau’s Journal from the months of March, April, and May to give a sense of the awakening spring and teeming life in the pools and woods at this time of year. Thoreau puts so beautifully into words what one would see, hear and feel when out in nature at this time of year.

Accompanying the text are 28 engravings, some with hand-coloring, by Abigail Rorer and printed by the artist. She lives not far from Thoreau’s Concord, Massachusetts home and the engravings are based on the landscape and pools that Thoreau explored and the similar landscape that surrounds the artist’s home. Bradley P. Dean, renowned Thoreau scholar, wrote a compelling introduction to the book.

The book consists of 92 pages in a 10 x 8 inch landscape format. Michael Russem of Kat Ran Press designed the book and printed the text on Zerkall Book. Barbara Blumenthal bound the book and the marbled papers are by Iris Nevins. The type is Baskerville and was cast by Michael & Winifred Bixler. 58 copies are bound in morocco leather with marbled paper sides in a clamshell case with 52 for sale, and 14 copies, also in leather with marbled paper sides, are accompanied by an extra suite of prints and one of the original blocks in a boxed set with 12 for sale. All editions are sold out.