On a gray and drizzly day in 1983, writer Alice D’Alessio and her math professor husband, Laird, made their way down a curving, tree-lined driveway on their way to a picnic. They were visiting 110 acres of land in Wisconsin’s unglaciated Driftless Area that Laird had inherited from his parents. Emerging from the trees, Alice had her first glimpse of the Ridgeway valley that would become a 25-year labor of love for the couple.
This fall Alice chronicles their efforts to return the land to its natural prairie state and to manage their oak and pine woods in the new Wisconsin Historical Society Press memoir, “Tending the Valley: A Prairie Restoration Odyssey.” Along the way they joined the land restoration movement, became involved in a number of stewardship groups, and discovered the depths of dedication and toil required to bring their dream to fruition. With hard-earned experience and the evocative language of a poet, D’Alessio shares her personal triumphs and setbacks as a prairie steward, along with a profound love for the land and respect for the natural history of the Driftless.
After retiring from corporate and nonprofit communications positions, D’Alessio began writing poetry and has published four books. “A Blessing of Trees” was awarded the Posner Prize from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, and “Days We Are Given” won first place in an Earth’s Daughters chapbook contest.
“Tending the Valley” is available at your favorite book retailer or library or as an e-book. In addition, you can tour a bit of the valley with Alice in a special, shareable video on the Wisconsin Historical Society Press Facebook page.
A portion of the book’s proceeds will benefit the Driftless Area Land Conservancy.