Horn of Plenty
Seasons in an Island Wilderness
An inspired history of Horn Island, a spectacular natural treasure and a demanding environment
Several miles off the Mississippi coast, Horn Island rises out of the sea. A wilderness of slash pine, sea oats, and osprey, the barrier island stirs the imagination, nourishes the spirit, and challenges the soul. It is as unforgiving as it is lovely, with a story that unfolds as a natural pageant of sand, water, and wind.
Walter Anderson, artist and naturalist, fell under Horn Island's spell and painted myriad watercolors of its crabs, fish, birds, and butterflies in some of his most vivid and memorable work. Anderson's retreat and April Newlin's refuge weave together in a rich and intimate portrait of this seductive and mythic landscape. In a series of encounters over seasons and years, Newlin captures the island's intricate details from the terror of raging wind to the tickle of a snail's foot. She camps on the edges, hikes the interior, and wades the lagoons, immersed entirely in fourteen rugged miles of woods, ponds, and marsh. In her prose, the island begins to coalesce as an intense and transformative place, a wilderness beyond the grip of mainland sprawl.
Over the years, Horn Island has been ignored and abused as well as studied and enjoyed. Today, it is protected as a result of a devoted few who fought development and won. Donald Bradburn—naturalist, physician, and inaugural winner of the Sierra Club's Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography—was one of those on the front lines. His photographs of Horn Island were instrumental in securing the public's understanding and commitment.