Acclaimed Great Lakes author Jerry Dennis recently appeared on Minnesota Public Radio to discuss his new book, The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes (University of Michigan Press, 2011) and his abiding interest in the region. Joined by fellow nature writer Darby Nelson, Dennis spoke on his appreciation for Thoreau, the roots of his own writing, the improbable hoax of whales in Lake Michigan, and more.
"I have always been fascinated with the contradictions in human nature when it comes to nature," Dennis said on the Midday program. "As I've spent twenty-some years studying the Great Lakes and writing about them, I've seen them as a very good example of that. This is a place we love, yet we dump our sewage overflow into it. Our industrial waste for many, many years was dumped into them. We still dump billions of gallons of agricultural waste--inadvertantly in most cases, but it still ends up there. Every time we have a major thunderstorm, huge amounts of water flood our sewage treatment plants, millions and sometimes billions of gallons of untreated sewage go into our lakes. I wanted to understand this better, as well, and thought, what is our relationship with nature and why is it so central to our existence and our experience as human beings? And why are we short sighted? Why do we not take a more active role in protecting these places that we claim to love?"