For Tom Springer, the usual four seasons can’t begin to describe the mini-solstices of a Midwestern year: “Does summer really begin on June 21? No, the first ripe Michigan strawberries say summer to me … just as a sumac that flames crimson in an August fencerow sends up the first semaphore flag of autumn. While these milestones aren’t measured by celestial reckoning, learning to know and observe them can greatly enrich a life.”
The Star in the Sycamore takes readers on a journey of rare insight and local discovery. In the ecstasy of a dusk feeding frenzy, Springer catches a slew of fat bass and toothsome pike in “a little river gone wild in the city.” In his love for country dogs, un-pampered on their beds of barn straw, he sees an ancient link to musky, wild pleasures that “fur babies” will never know. In his quest to learn dozens of star constellations, he reveals a striking connection between stars, trees and souls.
Along the way, he meets people forever changed and healed by wildness. A combat soldier on a flight home, whose agitated demeanor grows calm and joyful as he describes an upcoming leave in the north woods. A burned-out nonprofit executive who becomes a native plant herbalist to cure herself and then the bodies and psyches of others. Through it all, Springer weaves humor, grace and a luminous sense of the ordinary.