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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Language of Landscape

Air Date: Week of September 25, 2009

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Living on Earth continues its series exploring features of the American landscape. It’s based on the book “Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape,” edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney. In this installment, Donna Seaman explains the term “chop hills.”

Transcript

CURWOOD: The landscape out in the West where the aspens are dying is stark, beautiful and idiosyncratic. The particular and iconic features of American geography inspired the book “Home Ground, Language for an American Landscape.” And that, in turn, inspired us to bring you occasional definitions from the book. Today, writer Donna Seaman describes Chop Hills.


SEAMAN: Chop Hills. Nebraskans use the term ‘chop hills’ as an alternative to sand hills; both refer to a ridge of sand, or sand dune, in a region containing a series of hills, either composed of or covered with sand. Nebraska’s Sand Hills form a body of sandy landforms north and northwest of the confluence of the North and South forks of the Platte River and include the marshes the hills nourish. The famed sandhill cranes, wading birds averaging four feet in height with gray plumage, a trumpeting call, and elaborately choreographed mating rituals, frequent the chop hills as a way station on their annual migrations.

CURWOOD: Donna Seaman is a writer and editor based in Illinois. Her definition of Chop Hills comes from the book “Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape,” edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney.

 

 

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