Deeply and thoughtfully, it explores the "ancient theme" of how human beings fit into the great web of life ... To his immense credit, Chaskey is never preachy and avoids lamentation ... Though Chaskey is a fine writer, a composer of gemlike paragraphs and poems, his images and ideas often tumble breathlessly over one another, making it difficult to track the winding threads of his meditations ... But the journey through the winds and waves of his words is well worth the demand it makes on our attention.
Elegant and spirited ... Soil and Spirit is a sensuous and serious collection of nature writing, replete with passages about the layered wonders of the natural world. It is also unwavering in stressing the imperative of working to undo the environmental damage that imperils all human beings.
For all the loveliness of the agricultural and literary practices Chaskey surveys, Soil and Spirit sometimes risks appropriating the sentimental aesthetics of the places he visits. In this, Chaskey risks missing the political and cultural nuances constituent to a local and specific sense of place ... Despite its nods to Indigenous environmental efforts, the reflexes of Soil and Spirit feel steeped in the settler colonial rhetoric that pervades the history and literature of American environmentalism ... This may seem like a harsh assessment, but part of why this harshness seems so necessary is that there is much to love in Chaskey’s pages. His journeys and meditations are emblematic of an entire era of American environmentalism ... In the face of Anthropocene suffering, Soil and Spirit allows us to imagine solace and interconnectedness between nature, the people of the world, and the past.