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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Home Ground

Air Date: Week of

Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney. (Courtesy of Trinity University Press)

In our continuing series on language of the American landscape from the book “Home Ground” edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney, poet Pattiann Rogers of Colorado defines the term “drumlin.”


CURWOOD: Picture a place you love. What you see in your mind is more than the simple sum of its parts. There's an intimacy, a special relationship we have with the land and the forms that are dear to us, even as they change.

Writers Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney asked 45 authors to write about their geological perceptions. These accounts are part of a volume called "Home Ground - Language for an American Landscape." We've asked several writers to read from their entries. Today, Pattiann Rogers of Castle Rock, Colorado has her definition of ‘drumlin.’

"Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape", edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney.(Courtesy of Trinity University Press)

ROGERS: Drumlin. Drum is a Scottish term meaning a narrow hill or a long ridge. A drumlin, derived the Irish-Gaelic ‘druin,’ is a long, elongated oval hill of glacial drift, composed mainly of boulder clay or glacial sands and gravels. Drulins are sometimes described as having the shape of inverted spoons and though their genesis is debated, they are believed to have been formed when glacial ice, moving over the land, compressed the earth into specific patterns. The long axis of a drumlin is parallel to the direction of former ice movement, while the steep end faces the direction from which the glacier advanced. Drumlins often appear in groups called ‘fields,’ ‘pods,’ or ‘swarms.’ Three thousand drumlins lie in southern New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts and close to 11,000 drumlins lie in New York between Rochester and Syracuse, north of the Finger Lakes. Some of the drumlins in this area rise to sharp, sloping ridges and are called razorbacks, as they look like razorback hogs sleeping on the open land. ‘Watching the shifting light above the drumlins, I felt a darkening within myself,’ writes Ben Howard in his poem “Midcentury.”

CURWOOD: Pattiann Rogers’ book “Firekeeper: Selected Poems” won the 2005 Lannan Award for Poetry. Her definition of "drumlin" is in the book "Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape," edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney.

[MUSIC: Leo Kottke “The Sailors Grave On The Prairie” from ‘6 And 12 String Guitar’ (Fantasy Records—1974)]



Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape


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