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Ebook Stories and Narrative Non-Fiction
The Life of Plants: a Metaphysics of Mixture / by
Call Number: eb B105 .P535 .C633 2019
We barely talk about them and seldom know their names. Philosophy has always overlooked them; even biology considers them as mere decoration on the tree of life. And yet plants give life to the Earth: they produce the atmosphere that surrounds us, they are the origin of the oxygen that animates us. Plants embody the most direct, elementary connection that life can establish with the world. In this highly original book, Emanuele Coccia argues that, as the very creator of atmosphere, plants occupy the fundamental position from which we should analyze all elements of life. From this standpoint, we can no longer perceive the world as a simple collection of objects or as a universal space containing all things, but as the site of a veritable metaphysical mixture. Since our atmosphere is rendered possible through plants alone, life only perpetuates itself through the very circle of consumption undertaken by plants. In other words, life exists only insofar as it consumes other life, removing any moral or ethical considerations from the equation. In contrast to trends of thought that discuss nature and the cosmos in general terms, Coccia's account brings the infinitely small together with the infinitely big, offering a radical redefinition of the place of humanity within the realm of life.
Angels by the River by
Call Number: eb GE56 .S69 A3 2014
Reflections on race, environment, politics, and living on the front lines of change In Angels by the River, James Gustave "Gus" Speth recounts his unlikely path from a southern boyhood through his years as one of the nation's most influential mainstream environmentalists and eventually to the system-changing activism that shapes his current work. Born and raised in an idyllic but racially divided town that later became the scene of South Carolina's horrific Orangeburg Massacre, Speth explores how the civil rights movement and the South's agrarian roots shaped his later work in the heyday of the environmental movement, when he founded two landmark environmental groups, fought for the nation's toughest environmental laws, spearheaded programs in the United Nations, advised the White House, and moved into a leading academic role as dean of Yale's prestigious School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Yet, in the end, he arrived somewhere quite unexpected-still believing change is possible, but not within the current political and economic system. Throughout this compelling memoir, Speth intertwines three stories-his own, his hometown's, and his country's-focusing mainly on his early years and the lessons he drew from them, and his later years, in which he comes full circle in applying those lessons. In the process he invites others to join him politically at or near the place at which he has arrived, wherever they may have started.
Inventing the Christmas Tree by
Call Number: eb GT4989 .B78 2012
A colorfully decorated Christmas tree, lit with twinkling lights, provokes awe and delight. We understand the lighted tree as a central symbol of the Christmas season, but what are the roots of the tradition? Who first thought to bedeck a tree, to bring it inside? How and where did the local activity grow into a widespread tradition, and how has the Christmas tree traveled across time and continents? Bernd Brunner's brief history—enriched by a selection of delightful and unusual historical illustrations—spans many centuries and cultures to illuminate the mysteries of the Christmas tree and its enduring hold on the human imagination. Tracing various European traditions from the Middle Ages forward, Brunner finds that only in the nineteenth century did Christmas trees become common in European family homes. In North America, the imported custom soon fascinated, though some found the tree not quite compatible with a Puritan mindset. Brunner explores how the Christmas tree entered mainstream American culture and how in recent times it has become globally popular. He introduces Jacqueline Kennedy's Nutcracker Tree in the White House, trees used to celebrate the New Year in Turkey, and the world's most expensive Christmas tree, erected in Abu Dhabi. The author also considers the place of the artificial tree and the ecological dimensions of the Christmas tree trade. A book rich with anecdote and insight, Inventing the Christmas Tree will enchant a wide audience.
Georg Forster by
Call Number: eb PT1865 .F15 .G653 2019
"Marvelous. . . . Wonderfully imaginative. . . . Sparkling."--Wall Street Journal "Stunning. . . . Read this book: in equal measure it will give you hope and trouble your dreams."--Laura Dassow Walls, author of Henry David Thoreau: A Life and Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt's Shaping of America Georg Forster (1754-94) was in many ways self-taught and rarely had two cents to rub together, but he became one of the most dynamic figures of the Enlightenment: a brilliant writer, naturalist, explorer, illustrator, translator--and a revolutionary. Granted the extraordinary opportunity to sail around the world as part of Captain James Cook's fabled crew, Forster touched icebergs, walked the beaches of Tahiti, visited far-flung foreign nations, lived with purported cannibals, and crossed oceans and the equator. Forster recounted the journey in his 1777 book A Voyage Round the World, a work of travel and science that not only established Forster as one of the most accomplished stylists of the time--and led some to credit him as the inventor of the literary travel narrative--but also influenced other German trailblazers of scientific and literary writing, most notably Alexander von Humboldt. A superb essayist, Forster made lasting contributions to our scientific--and especially botanical and ornithological--knowledge of the South Seas. Having witnessed more egalitarian societies in the southern hemisphere, Forster returned after more than three years at sea to a monarchist Europe entering the era of revolution. When, following the French Revolution of 1789, French forces occupied the German city of Mainz, Forster became a leading political actor in the founding of the Republic of Mainz--the first democratic state on German soil. In an age of Kantian reason, Forster privileged experience. He claimed a deep connection between nature and reason, nature and politics, nature and revolution. His politics was radical in its understanding of revolution as a natural phenomenon, and in this often overlooked way his many facets--as voyager, naturalist, and revolutionary--were intertwined. Yet, in the constellation of the Enlightenment's trailblazing naturalists, scientists, political thinkers, and writers, Forster's star remains relatively dim today: the Republic of Mainz was crushed, and Forster died in exile in Paris. This book is the source of illumination that Forster's journey so greatly deserves. Tracing the arc of this unheralded polymath's short life, Georg Forster explores both his contributions to literature and science and the enduring relationship between nature and politics that threaded through his extraordinary four decades.
Jean Galbraith by
Call Number: eb QK31 .G16 .F54 2014
Writer in a Valley is the compelling story of Jean Galbraith (1906-1999), one of Australias most influential botanists and writers on nature, plants and gardens. As a garden writer, she was particularly notable for spreading knowledge of Australian flora and encouraging the cultivation of natives in home gardens. As a botanist she wrote accessible field guides to Australian wildflowers that made a vital contribution to the conservation of native plants. She conveyed the wonders of nature to generations of children through her child-centred stories of adventures in the natural world. Her nature writing evoked the spirit of places she knew well and introduced readers to the beauty of the Australian bush. During a writing career that began in the mid 1920s and spanned seventy years, Galbraith developed new forms of garden writing in Australia and she turned botanical writing into a literary art. During this long career, Galbraiths writing reached multiple audiences, both national and international: breathless pre-schoolers listening to her nature stories read out on the ABCs Kindergarten of the Air, gardeners in Britain and America intrigued by lyrical articles evoking the beauty of Australian flora, field naturalists who regarded her wildflower guides as glove box Bibles. This book also explores the relationship between a writer and her place, the valley of the Latrobe River in Gippsland, bordered by the foothills of the Great Dividing Range to the north and the Strzelecki Ranges to the south, where temperate rainforest can still be found in the folds of the hills. Galbraiths writing was inspired by her place: the house, garden and valley where she lived from childhood to old age. Her story, then, is an interplay between the local and the national. From her home in Gippsland, inspired by her surroundings, Galbraith put her vision of nature into words and helped Australians of all ages to see their own landscapes in new ways. Through telling Jean Galbraiths story, important themes in Australias twentieth century botanical, gardening and conservation history are explored. But also explored is the life of a gifted writer with a passion for nature and an urge to share - and conserve - the beauty around her.
Where Our Food Comes From by
Call Number: eb QK46.5.D58 N33 2009
The future of our food depends on tiny seeds in orchards and fields the world over. In 1943, one of the first to recognize this fact, the great botanist Nikolay Vavilov, lay dying of starvation in a Soviet prison. But in the years before Stalin jailed him as a scapegoat for the country's famines, Vavilov had traveled over five continents, collecting hundreds of thousands of seeds in an effort to outline the ancient centers of agricultural diversity and guard against widespread hunger. Now, another remarkable scientist--and vivid storyteller--has retraced his footsteps.In Where Our Food Comes From, Gary Paul Nabhan weaves together Vavilov's extraordinary story with his own expeditions to Earth's richest agricultural landscapes and the cultures that tend them. Retracing Vavilov's path from Mexico and the Colombian Amazon to the glaciers of the Pamirs in Tajikistan, he draws a vibrant portrait of changes that have occurred since Vavilov's time and why they matter.In his travels, Nabhan shows how climate change, free trade policies, genetic engineering, and loss of traditional knowledge are threatening our food supply. Through discussions with local farmers, visits to local outdoor markets, and comparison of his own observations in eleven countries to those recorded in Vavilov's journals and photos, Nabhan reveals just how much diversity has already been lost. But he also shows what resilient farmers and scientists in many regions are doing to save the remaining living riches of our world.It is a cruel irony that Vavilov, a man who spent his life working to foster nutrition, ultimately died from lack of it. In telling his story, Where Our Food Comes From brings to life the intricate relationships among culture, politics, the land, and the future of the world's food.
Gods, Wasps and Stranglers by
Call Number: eb QK495 .M73 S53 2016
Over millions of years, fig trees have shaped our world, influenced our evolution, nourished our bodies and fed our imaginations. And as author and ecologist Mike Shanahan proclaims, "The best could be yet to come." Gods, Wasps and Stranglers weaves together the mythology, history and ecology of one of the world's most fascinating--and diverse--groups of plants, from their starring role in every major religion to their potential to restore rainforests, halt the loss of rare and endangered species and even limit climate change. In this lively and joyous book, Shanahan recounts the epic journeys of tiny fig wasps, whose eighty-million-year-old relationship with fig trees has helped them sustain more species of birds and mammals than any other trees; the curious habits of fig-dependent rhinoceros hornbills; figs' connection to Krishna and Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad; and even their importance to Kenya's struggle for independence. Ultimately, Gods, Wasps and Stranglers is a story about humanity's relationship with nature, one that is as relevant to our future as it is to our past.
Flora Unveiled by
Call Number: eb QK827 .T359 2017
Sex in animals has been known for at least ten thousand years, and this knowledge was put to good use during animal domestication in the Neolithic period. In stark contrast, sex in plants wasn't discovered until the late 17th century, long after the domestication of crop plants. Even after its discovery, the "sexual theory" continued to be hotly debated and lampooned for another 150 years, pitting the "sexualists" against the "asexualists". Why was the notion of sex in plants so contentious for so long? "Flora Unveiled" is a deep history of perceptions about plant gender and sexuality, beginning in the Ice Age and ending in the middle of the nineteenth century, with the elucidation of the complete plant life cycle.Linc and Lee Taiz show that a gender bias that plants are unisexual and female (a "one-sex model") prevented the discovery of plant sex and delayed its acceptance long after the theory was definitively proven. The book explores the various sources of this gender bias, beginning with women's role as gatherers, crop domesticators, and the first farmers. In the myths and religions of the Bronze and Iron Ages, female deities were strongly identified with flowers, trees, and agricultural abundance, and during Middle Ages and Renaissance, this tradition was assimilated into Christianity in the person of Mary. The one-sex model of plants continued into the Early Modern Period, and experienced a resurgence during the eighteenth century Enlightenment and again in the nineteenth century Romantic movement. Not until Wilhelm Hofmeister demonstrated the universality of sex in the plant kingdom was the controversy over plant sex finally laid to rest. Although "Flora Unveiled" focuses on the discovery of sex in plants, the history serves as a cautionary tale of how strongly and persistently cultural biases can impede the discovery and delay the acceptance of scientific advances.
Call Number: eb QL673 .B786 2017
"An exquisitely beautiful book ...These stories about birds are ultimately reflections on the curious nature of humanity itself" -- Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk There is no denying that many people are crazy for birds. Packed with intriguing facts and exquisite and rare artwork, Birdmania showcases an eclectic and fascinating selection of bird devotees who would do anything for their feathered friends. In addition to well-known enthusiasts such as Aristotle, Charles Darwin, and Helen Macdonald, Brunner introduces readers to Karl Russ, the pioneer of "bird rooms", who had difficulty renting lodgings when landlords realized who he was; George Lupton, a wealthy Yorkshire lawyer, who commissioned the theft of uniquely patterned eggs every year for twenty years from the same unfortunate female guillemot who never had a chance to raise a chick; George Archibald, who performed mating dances for an endangered whooping crane called Tex to encourage her to lay; and Mervyn Shorthouse, who posed as a wheelchair-bound invalid to steal an estimated ten thousand eggs from the Natural History Museum in Tring. As this book illustrates, people who love birds, whether they are amateurs or professionals, are as captivating and varied as the birds that give flight to their dreams.
Call Number: eb RA1270 .P4 .D38 2014
Silent Spring catalyzed an environmental movement in the 1960s and achieved a ban on DDT, but are the alternatives any less toxic? Rachel Carson's eloquent book Silent Spring stands as one of the most important books of the twentieth century and inspired important and long-lasting changes in environmental science and government policy. Frederick Rowe Davis thoughtfully sets Carson's study in the context of the twentieth century, reconsiders her achievement, and analyzes its legacy in light of toxic chemical use and regulation today. Davis examines the history of pesticide development alongside the evolution of the science of toxicology and tracks legislation governing exposure to chemicals across the twentieth century. He affirms the brilliance of Carson's careful scientific interpretations drawing on data from university and government toxicologists. Although Silent Spring instigated legislation that successfully terminated DDT use, other warnings were ignored. Ironically, we replaced one poison with even more toxic ones. Davis concludes that we urgently need new thinking about how we evaluate and regulate pesticides in accounting for their ecological and human toll.
Call Number: eb S451 .I2 F86 2013
In Thomas Jefferson’s day, 90 percent of the population worked on family farms. Today, in a world dominated by agribusiness, less than 1 percent of Americans claim farm-related occupations. What was lost along the way is something that Evelyn I. Funda experienced firsthand when, in 2001, her parents sold the last parcel of the farm they had worked since they married in 1957. Against that landscape of loss, Funda explores her family’s three-generation farming experience in southern Idaho, where her Czech immigrant family spent their lives turning a patch of sagebrush into crop land. The story of Funda’s family unfolds within the larger context of our country’s rich immigrant history, western culture, and farming as a science and an art. Situated at the crossroads of American farming, Weeds: A Farm Daughter’s Lament offers a clear view of the nature, the cost, and the transformation of the American West. Part cultural history, part memoir, and part elegy, the book reminds us that in losing our attachment to the land we also lose some of our humanity and something at the very heart of our identity as a nation.
Call Number: eb S590.7 .M66 2007
Dirt, soil, call it what you want--it's everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it's no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations explores the compelling idea that we are--and have long been--using up Earth's soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. A rich mix of history, archaeology and geology, Dirt traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America, and the American push westward. We see how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soil--as society after society has risen, prospered, and plowed through a natural endowment of fertile dirt. David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.
French Dirt by
Call Number: eb SB320.8.F7 G66 2002
A story about dirt--and about sun, water, work, elation, and defeat. And about the sublime pleasure of having a little piece of French land all to oneself to till. Richard Goodman saw the ad in the paper: "SOUTHERN FRANCE: Stone house in Village near Nimes/Avignon/Uzes. 4 BR, 2 baths, fireplace, books, desk, bikes. Perfect for writing, painting, exploring & experiencing la France profonde. $450 mo. plus utilities." And, with his girlfriend, he left New York City to spend a year in Southern France. The village was small--no shops, no gas station, no post office, only a caf#65533; and a school. St. Sebastien de Caisson was home to farmers and vintners. Every evening Goodman watched the villagers congregate and longed to be a part of their camaraderie. But they weren't interested in him: he was just another American, come to visit and soon to leave. So Goodman laced up his work boots and ventured out into the vineyards to work among them. He met them first as a hired worker, and then as a farmer of his own small plot of land. French Dirt is a love story between a man and his garden. It's about plowing, planting, watering, and tending. It's about cabbage, tomatoes, parsley, and eggplant. Most of all, it's about the growing friendship between an American outsider and a close-knit community of French farmers. "There's a genuine sweetness about the way the cucumbers and tomatoes bridge the divide of nationality."--The New York Times Book Review "One of the most charming, perceptive and subtle books ever written about the French by an American."--San Francisco Chronicle
Olive Odyssey by
Call Number: eb SB367 .A548 2014
When Julie Angus visits her relatives in Syria, where they continue a centuries-old tradition of making olive oil, she understands that the olive is at the very core of who they are. Her curiosity piqued, she begins to wonder about the origins and history of this fruit that has meant so much to them. Angus, her husband, and their ten-month-old son embark on a Mediterranean voyage to retrace the route of the Phoenicians and discover who ate the first olive and learned to make oil from it, why it became such an influential commodity for many of the greatest civilizations, and how it expanded from its earliest roots in the Middle East. As they sail the dazzling waters of the Mediterranean, Angus and her husband collect samples from ancient trees, testing them to determine where the first olive tree originated. They also feast on inky black tapenades in Cassis, nibble on codfish and chickpeas creamed in olive oil in Sardinia, witness the harvesting of olives in Greece, and visit perhaps the oldest olive tree in the world, on Crete.
Snowball Oranges by
Call Number: eb SB370 .O7 K47 2000
It's the stuff of dreams: a Scottish family giving up relative sanity and security to go and grow oranges for a living in a secluded valley in the mountains of the Mediterranean island of Majorca. But dreams, as everyone knows, have a nasty habit of not turning out quite as intended. Being greeted by a freak snowstorm is only the first of many surprises and "experiences," and it isn't long before they realize that they have been sold a bit of a lemon of an orange farm by the wily previous owners.However, laughter is the best medicine when confronted with consuming a local dish of rats, the live-chicken-down-a-chimney technique of household maintenance, and attending a shotgun wedding. The colorful set of Majorcan neighbors (including an eccentric old goatherd who eats worm-ridden oranges to improve his sex life) restores the family's faith in human nature and helps them adapt to a new and unexpectedly testing life in this deceptively simple idyll of rural Spain. Snowball Oranges is hilarious and revealing, full of life and color, set against a backdrop of the breathtaking beauty of Majorca. (6 1/4 x 9 1/4, 240 pages)
Pecan, Tuscaloosa, Alabama: The University of Alabama Press, 2017. by
Call Number: eb SB401 .P4 .W455 2017
Written in a manner suitable for a popular audience and including color photographs and recipes for some common uses of the nut, Pecan: America's Native Nut Tree gathers scientific, historical, and anecdotal information to present a comprehensive view of the largely unknown story of the pecan. From the first written record of it made by the Spaniard Cabeza de Vaca in 1528 to its nineteenth-century domestication and its current development into a multimillion dollar crop, the pecan tree has been broadly appreciated for its nutritious nuts and its beautiful wood. In Pecan: America's Native Nut Tree, Lenny Wells explores the rich and fascinating story of one of North America's few native crops, long an iconic staple of southern foods and landscapes. Fueled largely by a booming international interest in the pecan, new discoveries about the remarkable health benefits of the nut, and a renewed enthusiasm for the crop in the United States, the pecan is currently experiencing a renaissance with the revitalization of America's pecan industry. The crop's transformation into a vital component of the US agricultural economy has taken many surprising and serendipitous twists along the way. Following the ravages of cotton farming, the pecan tree and its orchard ecosystem helped to heal the rural southern landscape. Today, pecan production offers a unique form of agriculture that can enhance biodiversity and protect the soil in a sustainable and productive manner. Among the many colorful anecdotes that make the book fascinating reading are the story of André Pénicaut's introduction of the pecan to Europe, the development of a Latin name based on historical descriptions of the same plant over time, the use of explosives in planting orchard trees, the accidental discovery of zinc as an important micronutrient, and the birth of "kudzu clubs" in the 1940s promoting the weed as a cover crop in pecan orchards. **Published in cooperation with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ellis Brothers Pecan, Inc., and The Mason Pecans Group**
The Fruitful City: The Enduring Power of the Urban Food Forest by
Call Number: eb SB453 .M663 2018
Our cities are places of food polarities — food deserts and farmers’ markets, hunger and food waste, fast food delivery and urban gardening. While locavores and preserving pros abound, many of us can’t identify the fruit trees in our yards or declare a berry safe to eat. Those plants — and the people who planted them — are often forgotten.
In The Fruitful City, Helena Moncrieff examines our relationship with food through the fruit trees that dot city streets and yards. She tracks the origins of these living heirlooms and questions how they went from being subsistence staples to raccoon fodder. But in some cities, previously forgotten fruit is now in high demand, and Moncrieff investigates the surge of non-profit urban harvest organizations that try to prevent that food from rotting on concrete and meets the people putting rescued fruit to good use.
Ghosts in the Garden by
Call Number: eb SB455 .K449 2005
National Book Award nominee Beth Kephart's new book is an enchanting midlife meditation on aging, identity, and memory set against the backdrop of Chanticleer garden in Pennsylvania. On the morning of her forty-first birthday, Kephart -- a mother, a wife, and a writer pressured by deadlines -- finds herself at Chanticleer, one of the world's most celebrated pleasure gardens. She knows little of the language of flowers. She cannot name the birds in the trees. She is a stranger among the gardeners and the people passing by. And yet she understands that she has somehow found her way to a place that can teach her about life and growth, about the past and the future. Week after week, she returns to Chanticleer -- recalling her childhood self, mulling over legacy and soul, striking up friendships with gardeners and conversations with other visitors. Succored by the seasons and the weather, she finds the grace in approaching middle age. There are lessons in seeds, and she finds them. There are lessons in letting go. Kephart writes about questions we all ask ourselves: How do we remember who we used to be? How do we imagine who we'll become? Have we lived our lives as we set out to? What legacies do we wish to leave behind? The book spans a two-year cycle, and each chapter is accompanied by a gorgeous black-and-white photograph of Chanticleer by William Sulit. Ghosts in the Garden pulses with possibility and purpose, with wisdom that is ageless and transcendent.
One Writer's Garden by
Call Number: eb SB466 .U65 J334 2011
By the time she reached her late twenties, Eudora Welty (1909-2001) was launching a distinguished literary career. She was also becoming a capable gardener under the tutelage of her mother, Chestina Welty, who designed their modest garden in Jackson, Mississippi. From the beginning, Eudora wove images of southern flora and gardens into her writing, yet few outside her personal circle knew that the images were drawn directly from her passionate connection to and abiding knowledge of her own garden. Near the end of her life, Welty still resided in her parents' house, but the garden-and the friends who remembered it-had all but vanished. When a local garden designer offered to help bring it back, Welty began remembering the flowers that had grown in what she called "my mother's garden." By the time Eudora died, that gardener, Susan Haltom, was leading a historic restoration. When Welty's private papers were released several years after her death, they confirmed that the writer had sought both inspiration and a creative outlet there. This book contains many previously unpublished writings, including literary passages and excerpts from Welty's private correspondence about the garden. The authors of One Writer's Garden also draw connections between Welty's gardening and her writing. They show how the garden echoed the prevailing style of Welty's mother's generation, which in turn mirrored wider trends in American life: Progressive-era optimism, a rising middle class, prosperity, new technology, women's clubs, garden clubs, streetcar suburbs, civic beautification, conservation, plant introductions, and garden writing. The authors illustrate this garden's history--and the broader story of how American gardens evolved in the early twentieth century-with images from contemporary garden literature, seed catalogs, and advertisements, as well as unique historic photographs. Noted landscape photographer Langdon Clay captures the restored garden through the seasons.
Far Flung by
Call Number: eb SB481.6.K57 .K573 2019
Cassandra Kircher was in her twenties when she was hired by the National Park Service, landing a life that allowed her to reinvent herself. For four years she collected entrance fees and worked in the dispatch office before being assigned as the first woman to patrol an isolated backcountry district of Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park. There, Kircher encountered wonder and beauty, accidents and death. Although she always suspected the mountains might captivate her, she didn't realize that her adopted landscape would give her strength to confront where she was from--both the Midwest that Willa Cather fans will recognize, and a childhood filled with problems and secrets. Divided and defined by geographic and psychological space, Far Flung begins in the Rockies but broadens its focus as Kircher negotiates places as distant as Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, Russia's Siberian valleys, and Wisconsin's lake country, always with Colorado as a heartfelt pivot. These thirteen essays depict a woman coming to terms with her adoration for the wilds of the West and will resonate with all of us longing to better understand ourselves and our relationships to the places and people we love most.
Wicked Bugs by
Call Number: eb SB931 .S83 2011
In this darkly comical look at the sinister side of our relationship with the natural world, Stewart has tracked down over one hundred of our worst entomological foes--creatures that infest, infect, and generally wreak havoc on human affairs. From the world's most painful hornet, to the flies that transmit deadly diseases, to millipedes that stop traffic, to the "bookworms" that devour libraries, to the Japanese beetles munching on your roses, Wicked Bugs delves into the extraordinary powers of six- and eight-legged creatures. With wit, style, and exacting research, Stewart has uncovered the most terrifying and titillating stories of bugs gone wild. It's an A to Z of insect enemies, interspersed with sections that explore bugs with kinky sex lives ("She's Just Not That Into You"), creatures lurking in the cupboard ("Fear No Weevil"), insects eating your tomatoes ("Gardener's Dirty Dozen"), and phobias that feed our (sometimes) irrational responses to bugs ("Have No Fear"). Intricate and strangely beautiful etchings and drawings by Briony Morrow-Cribbs capture diabolical bugs of all shapes and sizes in this mixture of history, science, murder, and intrigue that begins--but doesn't end--in your own backyard
Boll Weevil Blues by
Call Number: eb SB945 .C8 G54 2011
Between the 1890s and the early 1920s, the boll weevil slowly ate its way across the Cotton South from Texas to the Atlantic Ocean. At the turn of the century, some Texas counties were reporting crop losses of over 70 percent, as were areas of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. By the time the boll weevil reached the limits of the cotton belt, it had destroyed much of the region’s chief cash crop—tens of billions of pounds of cotton, worth nearly a trillion dollars. As staggering as these numbers may seem, James C. Giesen demonstrates that it was the very idea of the boll weevil and the struggle over its meanings that most profoundly changed the South—as different groups, from policymakers to blues singers, projected onto this natural disaster the consequences they feared and the outcomes they sought. Giesen asks how the myth of the boll weevil’s lasting impact helped obscure the real problems of the region—those caused not by insects, but by landowning patterns, antiquated credit systems, white supremacist ideology, and declining soil fertility. Boll Weevil Blues brings together these cultural, environmental, and agricultural narratives in a novel and important way that allows us to reconsider the making of the modern American South.
Comanche Marker Trees of Texas by
Call Number: eb SD383.3.U6H68 2016
In this unprecedented effort to gather and share knowledge of the Native American practice of creating, designating, and making use of marker trees, an arborist, an anthropologist, and a Comanche tribal officer have merged their wisdom, research, and years of personal experience to create Comanche Marker Trees of Texas.
A genuine marker tree is a rare find—only six of these natural and cultural treasures have been officially documented in Texas and recognized by the Comanche Nation. The latter third of the book highlights the characteristics of these six marker trees and gives an up-to-date history of each, displaying beautiful photographs of these long-standing, misshapen, controversial symbols that have withstood the tests of time and human activity.
The Tanoak Tree by
Call Number: eb SD397 .B4 .B69 2015
Tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus) is a resilient and common hardwood tree native to California and southwestern Oregon. People�s radically different perceptions of it have ranged from treasured food plant to cash crop to trash tree. Having studied the patterns of tanoak use and abuse for nearly twenty years, botanist Frederica Bowcutt uncovers a complex history of cultural, sociopolitical, and economic factors affecting the tree�s fate. Still valued by indigenous communities for its nutritious acorn nut, the tree has also been a source of raw resources for a variety of industries since white settlement of western North America. Despite ongoing protests, tanoaks are now commonly killed with herbicides in industrial forests in favor of more commercially valuable coast redwood and Douglas-fir. As one nontoxic alternative, many foresters and communities promote locally controlled, third-party certified sustainable hardwood production using tanoak, which doesn�t depend on clearcutting and herbicide use. Today tanoaks are experiencing massive die-offs due to sudden oak death, an introduced disease. Bowcutt examines the complex set of factors that set the stage for the tree�s current ecological crisis. The end of the book focuses on hopeful changes including reintroduction of low-intensity burning to reduce conifer competition for tanoaks, emerging disease resistance in some trees, and new partnerships among tanoak defenders, including botanists, foresters, Native Americans, and plant pathologists.
Tending Fire by
Call Number: eb SD421.3 .P96 2004
Provides a remarkably broad, sometimes startling context for understanding fire. Traces the ancient alliance between fire and humanity, delves into the role of European expansion and the creation of fire-prone public lands, and then explores the effects wrought by changing policies of letting burn and suppression.
The Fire Outside My Window by
Call Number: eb SD421.32.C2 .Y68 2013
The Fire Outside My Window reveals the story of the Cedar Fire, the largest fire in California's recorded history, which ravaged the San Diego area in late 2003, burning nearly 280,000 acres, destroying more than 2,200 homes and hundreds of other buildings, and killing 15 people. Leaving her doomed home the night of the catastrophe, the author, Sandra Millers Younger, drove through flames and, along with her husband, was saved by a bobcat that showed her the road she couldn't see through dense smoke. With this revealing narrative, she takes readers into the heart of an epic firefight, telling the stories of fire managers and air tanker pilots trying to combat a catastrophe bigger than they had ever imagined, and recounting both survivors' and victims' desperate efforts to escape flames moving faster than fire engines could drive. And she tells the story of the hapless hunter who got lost in the backcountry, with little water and no cell phone or GPS device, and started a signal fire that caused the calamity.
A Book of Bees by
Call Number: eb SF523 .H83 2017
A New York Times Notable Book: "A melodious mix of memoir, nature journal, and beekeeping manual" (Kirkus Reviews). Weaving a vivid portrait of her own life and her bees' lives, author Sue Hubbell lovingly describes the ins and outs of beekeeping on her small Missouri farm, where the end of one honey season is the start of the next. With three hundred hives, Hubbell stays busy year-round tending to the bees and harvesting their honey, a process that is as personally demanding as it is rewarding. Exploring the progression of both the author and the hive through the seasons, this is "a book about bees to be sure, but it is also about other things: the important difference between loneliness and solitude; the seasonal rhythms inherent in rural living; the achievement of independence; the accommodating of oneself to nature" (The Philadelphia Inquirer). Beautifully written and full of exquisitely rendered details, it is a tribute to Hubbell's wild hilltop in the Ozarks and of the joys of living a complex life in a simple place.
Fruit from the Sands: The Silk Road Origins of the Food you Eat by
Call Number: eb TX351 .S646 2019
"A comprehensive and entertaining historical and botanical review, providing an enjoyable and cognitive read."--Nature The foods we eat have a deep and often surprising past. From almonds and apples to tea and rice, many foods that we consume today have histories that can be traced out of prehistoric Central Asia along the tracks of the Silk Road to kitchens in Europe, America, China, and elsewhere in East Asia. The exchange of goods, ideas, cultural practices, and genes along these ancient routes extends back five thousand years, and organized trade along the Silk Road dates to at least Han Dynasty China in the second century BC. Balancing a broad array of archaeological, botanical, and historical evidence, Fruit from the Sands presents the fascinating story of the origins and spread of agriculture across Inner Asia and into Europe and East Asia. Through the preserved remains of plants found in archaeological sites, Robert N. Spengler III identifies the regions where our most familiar crops were domesticated and follows their routes as people carried them around the world. With vivid examples, Fruit from the Sands explores how the foods we eat have shaped the course of human history and transformed cuisines all over the globe.