"WHAT IS IT THAT CONFERS THE NOBLEST DELIGHT? What is that which swells a man's breast with great pride above which any other experience can bring him? Discovery! To know that you are walking where none others have walked; that you are beholding in the human eye has not been seen before; that you are breathing a virgin atmosphere. To give birth to an idea, to a discovery of great thought-an intellectual nugget, right under the dust of a field that many a brain-plough had gone over before. To find a new planet, to invent a new hinge, to find a way to make the lightnings carry your messages. To be the first-that is the idea...." There are books so alive that you're always afraid that while you weren't reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river; while you went on living, it went on living too, and like a river moved on and moved away. No one has stepped twice into the same river. But did anyone ever step twice into the same book?

MARK TWAIN
The Innocents Abroad (1869)



About our Name...
The king of upland game birds, the ruffed grouse, wears the scientific name Bonasa umbellus.
     Bonasa means "like a bison," and refers to the bird's drumming mating call sounding like a thundering herd of buffalo. Umbellus describes the umbrella-like Elizabethan ruff of black feathers around the bird's neck....
OUR BOOKS & PRINTS

PRAIRIE AUTUMN

John D. Taylor • Denny Burkhart Illustrations

     What type of vegetation covers more of North America than any other? Those living east of the Mississippi River, would probably guess forest, yet prairie grasslands-not forests-represent North America's most significant type of vegetation, covering 15 percent of the continent, some 9.3 million square miles from western Canada south through Texas.
     Culturally, biologically and historically, prairie and the creatures connected to it have shaped North America's destiny and continue to do so. What is more North America than a bison, a Lakhota warrior on a prairie hilltop? Yet prairie-real prairie-is vanishing at an alarming rate: Depending on location, between 99 and 35 percent of North America's three prairie types (tallgrass, mixed grass and short grass) are gone since 1830: More than 90 percent of the tallgrass, the "sea of grass" that reached as high as a horse's belly and spread across Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri and Kansas has been destroyed. Shortgrass and mixed grass have fared somewhat better, depending on location, yet the prognosis is not good: In Manitoba, for example, 99 percent of the mixed grass is gone-in Nebraska its 75 percent, in the Dakota's nearly 70 percent, in Texas, 30 percent-and Saskatchewan has lost 86 percent of its shortgrass, Texas 80 percent, South Dakota, 35 percent.
     Prairie Autumn, John D. Taylor's fourth Bonasa Press title, takes a hard look at North America's prairie past, present and future; the wildlife and people connected to this wild space. Taylor focuses on what prairie is all about, how it was created, and why it is significant in the North American landscape, its influence on our lives. The prairie's past-specifically what was here prior to European contact-and what remains is an important focus, along with the prairie's abundant life, which rivaled, perhaps exceeded, Africa's Serengeti grasslands. Always of special interest are the prairie's birds; particularly those best explored with a brace of DeCoverly Kennels English setters, and a side-by-side-sharptails, prairie chickens, sage grouse, Hungarian partridge, pheasants and quail.
     Prairie Autumn examines why the prairie attracts some people, repels others; it considers the spiritual nature of this vast wild space, and how it influences the human psyche. Taylor compares this book to two previous efforts, Gunning the Eastern Uplands and The Wild Ones, only this time the topic is prairie. Taylor has been roaming the prairies across the course of a lifetime-including a focused effort last fall in the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas-gathering stories, in preparation for this book. Denny Burkhart will again team with Taylor to provide the illustrations for this book.
     Prairie Autumn looks to be another fascinating read from this award-winning author. The book is scheduled for a Winter 2006 publication date. Pre-publication orders will receive a 15 percent discount. A $65 limited edition and a $35 trade edition will be available.