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BOOK NOTES WILD

"At night, after a long day of cruising through lakes, running rapids, and making portages, his bodily wants satisfied, with nothing ahead but rest and peace under the stars, the full realization comes to him, and then he understands why men go into the wilderness."

Sigurd F. Olson 

"Though to modern man the music seems to have changed, he still listens to the ancient rhythms. His are the old fears as well as the basic satisfactions, and because of them there is a powerful nostalgia for the wild. While the great silences are now shattered by the roar of jets, the cities he has built vibrating with noise, natural smells replaced by those of combustion and industry, senses bombarded with new and violent impressions, he is still attuned to woods and fields and waters. He has come a log way from the primitive, but not far enough to forget. Were it not for a nature steeped in a racial experience that knew nothing of these things, his adjustment might be swift, but adaptations take eons of time, and mental and physiological processes that have been maturing slowly for a million years cannot be ignored at will. Man of the Atomic Age and its conflicting technologies is still part of the past."
Sigurd F. Olson
"It was ironic that before being captured I'd seen three orchids in flower, a pathetic amount, but now I was a prisoner I was finding them everywhere. I suppose that's the trick: if you want to find the best stuff, get taken hostage."
Tom Hart Dyke



"At night, the boundaries of our bodies fade into darkness, and we become pure feeling extended into space. The substance of the world fades, too, leaving only sense impressions -- the sweetness of the trees, the dampness of the air. Lying in the boat, I am perception and speculation linked by moving air to the universe."roosting bats in older forest stands."
Kathleen Dean Moore
"Oaks have a long history as the premiere useful and sacred tree in much of Europe. Within the great oak forests that once covered much of the continent, ancient peoples used the wood, subsisted on acorns, worshipped in their shade, and buried their dead in hollow oak logs."
Kit Anderson


"Mutualism may be the best word available to characterize these relationships with charismatic trees (and many other species). It implies an interdependence between two species, each giving something of value to the other. Mutualism, like friendship, involves two active participants, rather than one who acts, and one who is acted upon. The best outcome for both is to continue the relationship indefinitely, through changes and difficult times."
Kit Anderson


Bird Breeding Atlases
  • Kentucky
  • Kansas
  • Colorado
  • Missouri
  • Tennessee
  • Links to Breeding Bird Atlas sites

  •    Wild Turkey
    Meleagris gallopavo
    A success story of modern wildlife management, this species was nearly extirpated from Oklahoma by 1920. Turkeys have been reintroduced into many areas, where they are now fairly common. The male, or gobbler, gobbles in the early morning to call the hens. The turkey flies strongly for only short distances and prefers to avoid danger by running.

    Brown Watersnake
    Nerodia Taxispilota
    ...has many common names, including the following: aspic, brown water snake, moccasin, pied-bellied water snake, southern water snake, water moccasin, water pilot, and water rattle (or rattler). Few outside the fields of scientific or amateur herpetology refer to N. taxispilota as the brown watersnake.

    Geographic Distribution
    Nerodia Taxispilota are found throughout the Coastal Plain and into the Piedmont along major rivers from eastern Alabama to eastern Virginia and have been reported from saltwater and brackish waters... Whether the range of this species is expanding or contracting in certain areas remains uncertain and is in need of further study.



     
    Spirit of the North: The Quotable Sigurd F. Olson, edited by David Backes. 180 pp. University of Minnesota Press, 2004. 

         Drawing from the speeches, letters, journals, articles and books of the famous wilderness advocate, Sigurd Olson's biographer has compiled a selection of quotations that give voice to the life and beliefs of the man in a condensed form.

         "I want to give a sense of his development over time as a person, a writer, a conservationist, and a wilderness philosopher," David Backes explains.

         The quotes are arranged in chapters by topic -- "A Strange and Violent World," "Wilderness," "The Power of Wonder," etc. -- and presented chronologically within the chapter to show the evolution of the Olson's ideas. Backes begins each chapter with a preamble that provides some historical context for the quotes that follow. 

         "Sigurd Olson believed humans have a biological attachment to nature formed during the course of our evolution," Backes points out in foreword to 'The Power of Wonder' chapter. "The psychological and spiritual restlessness so evident in modern society is due in part to the instinctual longing we still feel for the intimate connection to the earth that our species once enjoyed. He call this longing 'racial memory,' and it formed the biological underpinning to his later ideas about wilderness as a key component of mankind's continuing spiritual evolution."

    The Cloud Garden: A True Story of Adventure, Survival, and Extreme Horticulture, by Tom Hart Dyke and Paul Winder. 336 pp. The Lyons Press, 2004.

         "We crossed the river and were ordered to kneel on the floor opposite each other. Paul's face was sheet white. Then I saw a series of rectangular beds of overgrown plants and vegetation. They looked like graves. In all, there were about a dozen. That confirmed it: we were going to be shot."

          And so begins British botanist Tom Hart Dyke's account of a Central American orchid-collecting expedition gone terribly awry. For nine months Dyke and an intrepid explorer, Paul Winder, were held hostage by revolutionaries and survived through a combination of gutsy endurance, ingenuity, and rare good fortune.

         "I always felt jealous of the early pioneers and explorers: they had an uncharted world to investigate," explains Winder, a young investment banker whose accounts of the adventure alternate with Dyke's. "I wanted to get off the beaten track, too. Nowadays it is far more difficult." 

         Dyke and Winder met for the first time in northern Mexico shortly before setting off through the infamous Darien Gap cloud forest along the Panama-Colombia border, a lawless place that even armies avoid, and it's little wonder that they were captured. How they survived and what they discovered about themselves and the cloud forest during the ordeal makes the tale a persistent page-turner.

    The Pine Island Paradox, by Kathleen Dean Moore. 251 pp. Milkweed Editions, 2004.

         This collection of short personal essays, linked by the island as a metaphor for nature and the human condition, confronts the dissonance of our philosophical divisions and finds renewed faith in nature's interconnected harmonies.

         "In this book, I want to take the measure of three insulae, three separations drawn onto the worldviews of the Western world," Kathleen Dean Moore explains. "The first is the claim that human beings are separate from, and superior to, nature." The other two separations are the divides between what is near in time and space and what is far away (near/far) and the split between the mundane and the sacred ("the idea that we live in a material world that has only instrumental value, apart from the sacred, the intrinsically valuable, which exists on a different plane, if it exists at all").

         But while Moore's intent is scholarly, the style of her essays is accessibly down-to-earth, finding bridges for the divides in stories about witnessing the mating dance of grouse on the high desert, discovering nature at home rather than far away, recognizing redemption in the charred embers of a wildfire.

    Nature, Culture, and Big Old Trees: Live Oaks and Ceibas in the Landscapes of Louisiana and Guatemala, by Kit Anderson. 192 pp. 
    University of Texas Press, 2004.

        The product of a three-year study of live oaks in Louisiana and ceibas in Guatemala, this work of cultural geography examines the roles of the two long-lived species in their natural environments and how they have rooted themselves in the lives of the humans around them. 

         "I believe that in interactions with trees, Homo sapiens' closest counterparts in the plant kingdom, humans express fundamental relationships with the nonhuman that help define who we are. The dividing line between humans and trees can become thin," author Kit Anderson explains. "People have married trees, condemned them for murder, and given them legal standing. Trees in children's literature love to give advice."

         The live oak is an icon of the American South, appearing on postcards and in movies surrounding plantation homes or lining walks and lanes. The tree is common to Louisiana community centers and gathering places like plazas and parks. The ceiba occupies a similar role in the cultures of Latin America. Known as the "World Tree of the Maya," it is the official national tree of Guatemala.

         Anderson's book shows how these trees sprouted and thrived in the midst of human development and intertwined their histories with people that have come to cherish their existence

    Oklahoma Breeding Bird Atlas, by Dan L. Reinking. 519 pp. University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

         Oklahoma has now joined some 40 other states in compiling a Bird Breeding Atlas with thick and impressive volume that describes, illustrates and details the distribution of 212 species of breeding birds within its borders. This information, combined with similar records from other states, not only improves ornithological understanding of species distribution but also provides an invaluable reference for birders and others interested in Oklahoma's birds.

         Dan Reinking, a lifelong birder and professional ornithologist, edited the results of a five-year inventory of Oklahoma's nesting birds by more than 100 volunteers and researchers. Thirty-four separate authors, many of them volunteer birders as well, contributed to the 212 two-page species accounts that comprise the bulk of the atlas.

         This inventory covers the entire state of Oklahoma, from its panhandle to the Arkansas border. Organizers divided the state into 573 10-square-mile blocks of land and assigned staff and volunteers to monitor and keep records on species sighted and nesting in each block. The results are tabulated with a map for each species designating confirmed, probable and possible nesting locations across the state.

         Birders can utilize this atlas to plan birdwatching expeditions to proven or likely locations in Oklahoma that will add to their species lists. 

    North American Watersnakes: A Natural History, by J. Whitfield Gibbons and Michael E. Dorcas. 438 pp. University of Oklahoma Press, 2004.

         This impressive reference covers much of what is currently known about the natural history of the genera Nerodia, Regina and Seminatrix in North America -- collectively referred to as "watersnakes" because of their common habitat. It does not include semiaquatic snakes found near or in water that are not dependent on wetland habitat for food and protection.

         Range maps down to the county level are provided for each species covered in the text, including sources of distribution records.  The cumulative range for the three genera includes 38 U.S. states, one Candian province, Cuba and 11 Mexican states.

         Drawn from their own studies and nearly 1,800 references, authors J. Whitfield Gibbons and Michael E. Dorcas cover every aspect of watersnake natural history, from evolution and fossil records to reproduction, predation, captive maintenance and conservation efforts. They also discuss research questions, hypotheses and opportunities associated with each species.

         Gibbons is a professor of Ecology at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Lab and author of Their Blood Runs Cold: Adventures With Reptiles and Amphibians. Dorcas is an associate professor of biology at Davidson College in North Carolina.
     

    1000 Great Rail-Trails

    Trail Guides

    The trail listings in 1000 Great Rail-Trails: A Comprehensive Directory (Globe Pequot, 2004). include succinct descriptons of endpoints, mileage, surface, location, wheelchair accessibility, and contact information, including Web sites.

    Johnny Molloy's Day & Overnight Hikes: Kentucky's Sheltowee Trace (Menasha Ridge Press, 2004) is the ultimate resource for all levels of hikers traversing the national recreation trail named in honor of Daniel Boone (Sheltowee, meaning Big Turtle, was the name given to Boone when he was adopted into the Shawnee tribe). 

     


    Field Guides

    The Pocket Naturalist Activity Books by James Kavanagh (Waterford Press, 2004)feature games, interesting facts, illustrations and quizzes relating to nature study for kids of all ages. Books in the series include Dinosaurs, Rocky Mountain Wildlife, Ducks, Birds, Mammals, Pond Life and Seashore Life.

    Wildflowers of Wyoming by Diantha States and Jack States (Mountain Press Publishing Company , 2004) helps botanists, naturalists, and hikers identify most of Wyoming's multitude of flowering plants.
     


    Natural Histories

    Australia has never been invaded by foreign armies, but it has suffered numerous bioinvasions from exotic plants and creatures that have been just as devastating. Feral Future: The Untold Story of Australia's Exotic Invaders, by Tim Low (University Of Chicago Press, 2002) provides a stirring chronicle of Australia's exotic invasions and ponders the frightening likelihood of ecological calamities around the world.

    Skywatch West: The Complete Weather Guide
    by Richard A. Keen (Fulcrum Publishing, 2004) describes the wide variety of weather found in the U.S. West — from calm and predictable cycles to dramatic and unpredictable events.

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