Cover image for How to catch a mole : wisdom from a life lived in nature
Title:
How to catch a mole : wisdom from a life lived in nature
ISBN:
9781771644792
Physical Description:
206 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm.
Added Author:
Summary:
Kneeling in a muddy field, clutching something soft and blue-black, Marc Hamer vows he will stop trapping moles--forever. In this earnest, understated, and sublime work of nonfiction literature, the molecatcher shares what led him to this strange career: from sleeping among hedges as a homeless teen, to toiling on the railway, to weeding windswept gardens in Wales. Hamer infuses his wanderings with radiant poetry and stark, simple observations on nature's oft-ignored details. He also reveals how to catch a mole--a craft long kept secret by its masters--and burrows into the unusual lives of his muses. Moles, we learn, are colorblind. Their blood holds unusual amounts of carbon dioxide. Their vast tunnel networks are intricate and deceptive. And, like Hamer, they work alone.
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Summary

Summary

"A small book of many things. In quiet, crystalline prose, it blends memoir, keen observations of nature, and ruminations about life, aging and death."
--Wall Street Journal

At once a highly original memoir and an ode to the outdoors, this unexpected--and delightfully strange--book reveals, at its core, a rare vision of the natural world.

Kneeling in a muddy field, clutching something soft and blue-black, Marc Hamer vows he will stop trapping moles--forever. In this earnest, understated, and sublime work of nonfiction literature, the molecatcher shares what led him to this strange career: from sleeping among hedges as a homeless teen, to toiling on the railway, to weeding windswept gardens in Wales.

Hamer infuses his wanderings with radiant poetry and stark, simple observations on nature's oft-ignored details. He also reveals how to catch a mole--a craft long kept secret by its masters--and burrows into the unusual lives of his muses.

Moles, we learn, are colorblind. Their blood holds unusual amounts of carbon dioxide. Their vast tunnel networks are intricate and deceptive. And, like Hamer, they work alone.


Author Notes

Marc Hamer was born in the North of England and moved to Wales more than thirty years ago. After spending a period homeless, then working on the railway, he returned to education and studied fine art. He has worked in art galleries, marketing, graphic design, as a magazine editor and taught creative writing in a prison before becoming a gardener and mole-catcher.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This informative and effortlessly readable work from poet Hamer is at once an educational primer on the titular species, and a sensitive look at his own life in the unlikely profession of molecatching. Long employed by homeowners and farmers in Llandaff, Wales, to help them eradicate animals generally regarded as pests, Hamer explains that he stopped after becoming "tired of hunting, trapping and killing." However, he also shares a sense of gratitude for "a life that encourages a passion for nature, for its functional beauty and its violent brutal energy-even for its decay." His writing conveys this passion with closely observed descriptions, such as of how moles dig tunnels, helped by their "dark, blue-black hair... soft and velvety [and which] brushes just as easily backwards, forwards and sideways." Hamer also peppers the narrative with personal history, referencing experiences with homelessness, when like a mole he "perfected [his] hiding skills and went underground," surviving outdoors and avoiding contact with other people. Ultimately a reflection on humanity's fraught but sustaining relationship with nature and on life's "intertwining rhythmic cycles that thump along," Hamer's heartfelt work should have far wider appeal than its niche subject might suggest. With b/w illustrations. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Creatures that burrow in the deep, dark soil are a mystery to most of us, but, to Hamer, they are his livelihood. This charming memoir of a rambler-turned-mole-catcher speaks of the small wonders found in nature, the interdependence of life, and a smattering of mole facts for the mole-curious. The rarely glimpsed mole is an industrious marvel of the underground, with immensely strong paws and a solitary nature. Hamer shares what he has learned during his many decades of putting an end to their tunneling through field and garden, while simultaneously leading the reader through his teenage years of wandering the countryside with scarcely more in his bag than a wool blanket. Poems are scattered throughout the book for a dreamy ambience, which is juxtaposed with the ever-present existence of its subterranean subject. Lessons learned from a life outdoors encourage the reader to dwell in the small, mostly ordinary but sometimes extraordinary, moments that make up an existence. The reader discovers how to catch a mole, but will question: Should they be caught?--Alice Burton Copyright 2010 Booklist


Table of Contents

Prologuep. 13
Daybreakp. 17
Scything a Meadowp. 25
Golden Moles, Star-nosed Moles and Famous Molesp. 41
Molehills - Leaving Homep. 49
Earthp. 57
Tunnels and Sleepingp. 69
Getting Old and Walkingp. 85
Reproductionp. 99
Oxygenp. 107
Gas and the Dead Pastp. 119
Poison and Winterp. 129
Deterrentsp. 135
Mole Traps and Breaking Thingsp. 143
Finding and Kneelingp. 149
Setting the Traps and Leavingp. 157
Killingp. 167
The Fortress and the Worm Larderp. 173
The History of Molecatchingp. 179
The Futurep. 189
Epiloguep. 195
Acknowledgementsp. 205