Terrie’s passion for the outdoors is infectious

“Seeing the Forest: Reviews, Musings, and Opinions from an Adirondack Historian,” by Philip Terrie”

—Philip Terrie has been wandering the Adirondacks for 50 years and writing about it for more than 30. His books “Contested Terrain” and “Forever Wild” were instant classics when they came out in the 1990s, and necessary primers for anyone interested in the history of our region. Long a contributor to the Adirondack Explorer, Terrie has written book reviews, profiles, policy analyses, and opinion pieces. “Seeing the Forest” captures the range of these thoughtful articles in one volume.

Instead of reading it cover to cover, I found pleasure in leafing through, finding a sentence that captured my attention, and reading the attendant article, thus moving back and forth through these highly readable, engrossing essays. The sentence, “He often climbed peaks by the light of the moon,” led me to an article on the life of painter and St. Hubert’s resident Harold Weston. “It’s the American wilderness at its mythic finest …” was inside a discussion of artist renderings of Lake George and a larger meditation on the shifts in cultural attitudes toward wilderness.

I found myself vicariously with him on Round Pond when I stumbled on the phrase, “Hiking out there was a personal pilgrimage …,” but his recollections of that pilgrimage spiraled outward into thinking about cultural approaches to wilderness, the creation of the Forest Preserve, and the actions of journalist Samuel Hammond and Bob Marshall to make that happen.

Issues of preservation and the balance of wilderness and civilization are constant themes in his thinking, as they are for all who concern themselves with the Adirondacks region. He does not hide his biases. In the article “Wilderness,” he states: “There are millions and millions of acres out there from which the irritating whine of the gasoline engine will never be absent. Can we keep a few spots here and there, and maybe even add a few, where we can escape it?”

Whether you agree with his opinions or not, these articles are consistently informative, rich in detail, often including some personal experience of his own, and are steeped in the wide range of reading and thinking he has done about the region. Indeed, this is a reader’s reader, for almost every article references other books, books old and new that informed and spurred his own thoughts and questions. You might find yourself, as I did, going off in search of some of these titles because Terrie has made it all sound so fascinating. His passion is infectious.