‘10,000 Days in the Woods: The Beginning’


For the Recorder

Published: 02-12-2023 12:07 PM

“10,000 Days in the Woods: The Beginning”by H. Russell RichardsonDragon Brook Publishing

In 2019, Russ Richardson was hospitalized for a severe heart blockage. In the beginning of the Shelburne resident’s new memoir, he explains that he coped with the confinement of that experience by counting things.

Eventually, he calculated that he had spent 10,000 days in the woods during his 40 years as a forester.

When one of his nurses observed that he must have a lot of stories to tell, her remark set him on a new path: documenting his life and his passion for the outdoors in a series of recollections.

The first volume of stories was published last year, and it is charming. Richardson begins with recollections of the connections with nature he forged as a child growing up on his grandmother’s New England farm in the 1950s and 1960s.

Richardson recalls the sights and feelings that greeted him in that environment during each season of the year as his family tapped maple syrup, watched birds and beavers, delivered products, and learned to appreciate and occasionally fear nature.

Many of his recollections will be familiar to people in our area. Nevertheless, the book reminds us how much in our landscape and lives has changed with global warming and the decline of the family farm.

His youth imbued him with a love of nature and the outdoors. Realizing that farming, which he loved, was becoming increasingly difficult on a small scale, Richardson opted for the next best thing: he went to forestry school.

During school vacations and after college, Richardson worked in related occupations. He was a seasonal forester for the U.S. Forest Service in the American West. He worked for commercial loggers as well.

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He writes of forest fires and avalanches, of friends made on the job and colleagues lost, of working and living in areas of incredible beauty but often incredible danger.

Most of his anecdotes are just that: anecdotes. He doesn’t take the time to write about their effect on him, but he doesn’t need to. The reader senses his emotions through his candid storytelling. The arc of the book leaves him wiser on a lot of counts. It also cements his commitment to conserving nature.

The book is a quick, easy read, with lots of color and adventure to hold the reader’s attention. My only quibble (and it is a small one) is that a few grammatical errors pop up to interrupt the flow of the prose … at least for a grammar queen like me.

I look forward to Richardson’s next volume.

Russ Richardson will read from his book, talk about his adventures, and sign copies of “10,000 Days in the Woods” on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Shelburne Grange Fellowship Hall and on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Warwick Free Public Library.

The book is also available locally at Boswell’s Books and at the World Eye Bookshop.

Tinky Weisblat is an award-winning author and singer. Her new book is “Pot Luck: Random Acts of Cooking.” Visit her website, TinkyCooks.com.