Today we begin a series of conversations with authors featured on our UPR Booklist. Julia Corbett's new book, "Seven Summers: A Naturalist Homesteads in the Modern West" (University of Utah Press) is the story of a naturalist-turned-professor (Corbett) who flees city life each summer with her pets and power tools to pursue her lifelong dream: building a cabin in the Wyoming woods. With little money and even less experience, she learns that creating a sanctuary on her mountain meadow requires ample doses of faith, patience, and luck. The task also involves a gradual and sometimes painful acquisition of flexibility and humility in the midst of great determination and naive enthusiasm.
For her, homesteading is not about wresting a living from the land, but respecting and immersing herself in it — observing owls and cranes, witnessing seasons and cycles, and learning the rhythms of wind and weather in her woods and meadow. The process changes her in unexpected ways, just as it did for women homesteaders more than a century ago. Julia Corbett is a Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah. With a background in journalism and environmental studies, she writes both academic research and creative nonfiction about human relationships with the natural world. She authored one of the first texts in environmental communication, "Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental Messages." Her environmental nonfiction essays have been published in Orion, High Country News, and OnEarth magazine. Before receiving her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, she was a reporter, a park ranger, a naturalist, a natural resources information officer, and a press secretary.