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Sienna background with a painting of trees leaning over a creek with text underneath: Clear Creek: Toward a Natural Philosophy by Erik Reece

Erik Reece

Available now!
August 2023
PB 978-1-952271-90-8
eBook 978-1-952271-91-5

In Place Series


Clear Creek

Toward a Natural Philosophy


A critic once wrote that Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon was about two things: Yugoslavia and everything else. Something similar might be said about Clear Creek. In this boundary-defying work, Erik Reece spends a year beside the stream in his rural Kentucky homeplace, tracking the movements of the seasons, the animals, and the thoughts passing through his mind.

Clear Creek is a series of vignettes that calls us out of our frenzied, digitized world to a slower, more contemplative way of being. Reece’s subjects range from solitude and solidarity to the intricacies of forest communities, and from the genius of songwriter Tom T. Hall to reforestation projects on abandoned strip mines. A work of close observation and carefully grounded insights, Clear Creek articulates a nature-based philosophy for pondering humanity’s current plight.


Erik Reece is the author of five books of nonfiction, including Utopia Drive and Lost Mountain, which won Columbia University’s John B. Oakes Award for Environmental Journalism. He teaches writing and literature at the University of Kentucky.


“Reece’s reflections on inner landscapes compared to outer landscapes and on the active life versus the contemplative life are compelling, as are his profound reflections on humanity’s place in the natural world.”
Foreword Reviews 

“Erik Reece is an important writer, and his deeply observed and well-researched natural history pulses back and forth with ideas. We need more books like this out in the world, books that give us hints for how to be in a time of crisis.”
David Gessner, author of Leave It as It Is: A Journey through Theodore Roosevelt’s American Wilderness

“A wise, rambling book that is equal parts memoir, natural history, and philosophical investigation. Erik Reece leads that rarest and most important of things, an examined life. Readers of Barry Lopez and Wendell Berry will find much to admire here.”
Joe Wilkins, author of Fall Back Down When I Die

“In Clear Creek, Erik Reece distinguishes between indoor philosophy and outdoor philosophy, as I myself distinguish between indoor books and outdoor books. Since Reece has bounced his ideas off stars and clouds, sunfish and jewelweed, herons, caterpillars, campfire flames, and his wild friends Whitman, Thoreau, and Epicurus, his book is altogether an outdoor book, full of starry, grassy, fiery ideas, and is itself a wild and wise new friend.”
Amy Leach, author of The Everybody Ensemble