Having experienced the Berkeley "revolution" of the '60s, Carolyn Hawley, a young, tenured college music instructor, fled with her two young children to the remote wilderness of northern California. There, without a "male-head-of-house" they lived as modern day pioneers, building a home, and surviving the elements. It details relationships between human and animal lives, including many nature experiences.
There are "how-to" tips regarding developing virgin land, and various adventures along the way. There are contrasts of opposites of all kinds, including balancing the cultured intellectual life as a concert artist with that of an adventurer/farmer.
Among the contrasts is that of the "hippie"-"redneck" cultures, both prevalent in the back hills of the "emerald triangle" and the drug culture. When isolated from the rest of the world of man for long periods, one senses a different reality; one in which the illusions of romantic love, fame and riches are all dispelled by the intrusion of truth, beauty, and love, seen and felt while living in the bosom of mother nature.
Then in the chapter "Return of the Aging Woodnymph", the book depicts a similar adventure in the wilderness, but as experienced 30 years later, with the added wisdom (and short comings) of age.
The contrast between the two adventures fades, and becomes Zen-like, showing that though everything changes, everything also stays essentially the same.
What is gained, and what is lost is unimportant. Being alive, and living to the fullest becomes the ultimate goal of life.