I’ve decided it is time to stop keeping a gem to myself. My grandmother gave me a copy of Notes on a Lost Flute: A Field Guide to the Wabanaki several years ago for Christmas. It has since become one of my favorites. I re-read occasionally simply because it puts me in a good mood.
Notes on a Lost Flute is a book exploring the pre-contact (with the Europeans) culture of northern New England (Maine, in particular). Kerry Hardy, the author, obviously writes from a deep interest in and love for pre-contact culture. He is an ecologist by training, and he considers the relationship between the land and the people. He presents the Wabanaki as an integral part of the land, burning to maintain fertility and living well off the richness of the land. It is an amazing insight into what it must have been like to be part of the land.
One of my favorite chapters about the Wabanaki “food year”. It is amazing to see how much food the Native Americans had access to without recourse to intensive agriculture. To realize that many food plants and trees still grow wild gives me hope that someday we will be able to develop a similarly close relationship with the land. It also inspires me to learn about how to find free wild food in my own area.
Kerry Hardy makes the Wabanaki come alive as insightful naturalists with a keen sense of humor. Hardy himself has a sense of humor, and excerpts passages from missionaries and other people who were in contact with Wabanaki culture that are rather amusing at times.
Overall, Notes on a Lost Flute is one of my favorite books of all time. The pictures and artwork are amazing. Kerry hardy is an engaging writer and while the book is informative, it is not dry. Notes on a Lost Flute was not written to turn the reader into an expert on Wabanaki culture, but to give the reader a sense of what life was like. Kerry Hardy does this very well. Notes on a Lost Flute is definitely worth the read.