Dallas Lore Sharp (1870–1929) was an American author, university professor, and librarian, best remembered for his magazine articles and books about native birds and small mammals.
"We have had a series of long, heavy rains," he begins The Lay of the Land, "and water is standing over the swampy meadow. It is a dreary stretch, this wet, sedgy land in the cold twilight, drearier than any part of the woods or the upland pastures. They are empty, but the meadow is flat and wet, naked and all unsheltered. And a November night is falling.
The darkness deepens. A raw wind is rising. At nine o’clock the moon swings round and full to the crest of the ridge, and pours softly over. I button the heavy ulster close, and in my rubber boots go down to the river and follow it out to the middle of the meadow, where it meets the main ditch at the sharp turn toward the swamp. Here at the bend, behind a clump of black alders, I sit quietly down and wait.
I am not mad, nor melancholy; I am not after copy. Nothing is the matter with me. I have come out to the bend to watch the muskrats building, for that small mound up the ditch is not an old haycock, but a half-finished muskrat house."
This classic contains the following chapters:
I. The Muskrats Are Building
II. Christmas in the Wood
III. A Cure for Winter
IV. The Nature Student
VI. The Missing Tooth
VII. The Sign of the Shad-Bush
VIII. The Nature Movement
X. A Broken Father
XI. High Noon
XII. The Palace in the Pig-Pen
XIII. An Account with Nature
XIV. The Buzzard of the Bear Swamp
XV. The Lay of the Land