Readers expecting a detailed account of urban coyotes may be surprised by Gavin Van Horn’s new book. The Way of Coyote blends memoir and ecological research in a work of creative non-fiction that explores Chicago’s wilderness and how we live alongside it. The beauty and wonder of urban nature are treated in much the same style as traditional, wilderness-focused nature writing, and Van Horn acknowledges on the first page that his “Plan A” was to live in a cabin somewhere with no cell reception. That plan fell through, however, and instead of lions or wolves, Van Horn finds beauty in the birds and butterflies that call Chicago home.
Indian Ridge Marsh is not one of the Chicago Park District’s flashiest properties. It doesn’t have a basketball court, a field house, or any of the other features that draw people to parks like Marquette or Calumet. While a small gravel lot provides a few parking spots, no sidewalks lead to the park, and the nearest bus stop is nearly a mile away. Indian Ridge is a new type of park, focused on restoring the natural areas that once covered this part of Chicago.