A recently-retired University of Iowa professor is publishing her first book, which she says is a combination of memoir and an environmental call to action.
Maureen McCue has worked as a physician, educator and researcher in countries around the globe, but says her quiet lifestyle in Oxford — just outside Iowa City — affords her time to enjoy the beauty of nature, while also observing unsettling changes in those surroundings.
“Living on a low-maintenance road right here in Johnson County, I realized how many of the challenges are really similar around the world,” McCue says. “So I look at climate, food, water, extinctions, mental health, all of those sorts of things that define our existence today.”
Her book explores the connections between rural and urban life in eastern Iowa and her experiences in Ecuador, India, Haiti, Bangladesh and elsewhere. The animals are key indicators, she says, in displaying harbingers.
“I’ve lived here 35 years which is a small-time geologically speaking but long enough to notice the change in their numbers, in their relationships,” McCue says. “Yes, they are important to me. When I don’t hear the frogs, I get nervous. Where are they all going? We all know about water pollution.”
In the book entitled “Birds in the Morning, Frogs at Night. Sharing Life Along the Road,” McCue discusses how humanity is integrated into nature and she urges people to become more aware of the connection between our lives and the land.
“If nothing else,” McCue says, “get to know your food producers, become engaged with what’s happening with your local water, and in some way recognizing that we are connected and that connection really calls us to begin to reassess our lifestyle and what’s important.”
People around the world are facing similar challenges, she says, whether they live in the city or the country.
“By using real examples as opposed to making a lot of noise about politics, I’m hoping that it makes it a little bit more real to people since it is a real experience right here in Iowa, where you can see what’s happening in our environment,” she says.
McCue was a professor in the Colleges of Public Health and Liberal Arts and Sciences, and co-founded the UI’s Global Health Studies Program. The 264-page book is available now through the North Liberty-based Ice Cube Press.