Take a stroll through a Montana town with a singular woman - Hannah Hinchman, an artist/writer with a unique gift for description. In Hannah's little corner of this stunning land, Montana's Front, there is an expanse of prairie grassland bounded on one side by mountains where the eye is soothed by the absence of commercial development that plagues our cities. For an artist/naturalist, this place is a little bit of heaven.
Using colorful sketches and stylized hand-lettering throughout, Hinchman shares this unique land, the people and places, the animals, pets and wildlife (including the humans), in stunning illustrations that make this particular illuminated journal a memorable experience. With delicious attention to detail, the artist in Hannah creates samples of the natural habitat that sustains her soul. Page after page comes alive, awakening the uninitiated to the astonishing beauty of the Front; it is possible to imagine oneself in a scene, walking with the author as she points out the differences in the cottonwoods, the flowers, insects and spiders of the grassland, even the Augusta, Montana, rodeo, a one-day license to party.
Besides Hannah, we make a new friend, Sisu, the Finnish Spitz snow dog. Sisu is Hannah's trusted companion on her treks through this astonishing landscape of the Rocky Mountain Front. The Front distinguishes itself from the friendlier, more populated areas of Montana, with the unending arrival of newcomers to clutter up the landscape. In sharp contrast, the Front is defined by stark reefs, constant wind and an infinite variety of creatures. We visit the Sun River Game Range, which has never been touched by cows, where flowers of countless species bloom freely in 20,000 acres of grassland.
Accepted by the locals, Hannah is at odds with most of them concerning the land: they want it domesticated and productive; she values the ecological balance and sees herself as one creature coexisting among many. Lurking on this horizon, oil and gas development threatens this incredibly bountiful home to a myriad of creatures.
As natural resources dwindle and life becomes more difficult to sustain, there is direct conflict between the natural habitats of endangered species versus the big money behind resource development. Regardless how many studies are quoted, the environmental impact is predictably tragic for the Front. All the more reason to appreciate the beauty of this journal.
Defined by the author's personality and an elegant array of visual images, this small book is a gem. It is difficult to do justice to the exquisite detail and endearing personal commentary that is so delightful to read. A wonderful gift for nature lovers, you will have a hard time parting with a copy once in your hand. Best plan on ordering a few for those favorite friends.