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I am a country man, raised in the fields and woods of rth-central Georgia. I do t care for cities, and so I live in the forest on a ridge over Wildcat Creek, a bold stream that flows, half a mile away, into the Oconee River. . . . Our house is halfway down the ridge, just before it plummets sharply to the creek. I have found archaic chert scrapers on our property, more recent potsherds with intricate decorations. I say that we own these seven acres, but we're really just passing through.With his opening lines Philip Lee Williams defines the territory of this intricate and lyrical memoir: life with his young family on the ridge, his coming of age, and the legacy of his southern family. That legacy, which includes a love of literature, a passion for music, and an insatiable curiosity about the natural world, also includes a defective heart valve.Crossing Wildcat Ridge combines the drama of Williams's open-heart surgery with contemplative essays on the natural world. The gentle counterpoint between the two elements illuminates both in remarkable and profound ways. Confronting his mortality, the author struggles to determine his place in the world. His sober consideration of things left undone is juxtaposed with the contemplation of a mound of fire ants: There is uncertainty in that world; each kws his job, doesn't kw why, can't ask. None kws he will die. As the author slips into depression during his postoperative recovery, he studies the flora and fauna of the ridge, its lights and shadows, the dunes beneath the waters of the creek. With poetic imagery, he shares t only his crystalline observations of nature but also their healing effects--how he learns to receive the gift of a mockingbird's song, how the tracks of elusive woodland creatures bolster his faith in the existence of things we cant see, how sensory memories reconnect him to the boy he was and the man he hopes to be.All thinking, feeling adults search for the right path to self-discovery. Philip Lee Williams's lumius account of his journey is one satisfying and effective road map.
Philip Lee Williams is the author of fourteen books, including The True and Authentic History of Jenny Dorset (Georgia) and a volume of poetry, Elegies for the Water. His most recent novel is The Campfire Boys. He is a winner of many literary awards and a Georgia Governor's Award in the Humanities and will be inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2010. He lives with his family in Oconee County, Georgia.