In this collection of natural-history essays, biologist Joan Maloof embarks on a series of lively, fact-filled expeditions into forests of the eastern United States. Through Maloof’s engaging, conversational style, each essay offers a lesson in stewardship as it explores the interwoven connections between a tree species and the animals and insects whose lives depend on it-and who, in turn, work to ensure the tree’s survival.
Never really at home in a laboratory, Maloof took to the woods early in her career. Her enthusiasm for firsthand observation in the wild spills over into her writing, whether the subject is the composition of forest air, the eagle’s preference for nesting in loblolly pines, the growth rings of the bald cypress, or the gray squirrel’s fondness for weevil-infested acorns. With a storyteller’s instinct for intriguing particulars, Maloof expands our notions about what a tree “is” through her many asides-about the six species of leafhoppers who eat only sycamore leaves or the midges who live inside holly berries and somehow prevent them from turning red.
As a scientist, Maloof accepts that trees have a spiritual dimension that cannot be quantified. As an unrepentant tree hugger, she finds support in the scientific case for biodiversity. As an activist, she can’t help but wonder how much time is left for our forests.
- rights“The Way In” (p. 71), used as epigraph, and “I Live My Life in Growing Orbits” (p. 13), from Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, a translation from the German and commentary by Robert Bly. Copyright © 1981 by Robert Bly. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
“The Ninth Elegy,” pp. 131–35 from The Essential Rilke, translated by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebmann. Copyright © 2000 by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebmann. Introduction copyright © 2000 by Galway Kinnell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
© 2005 by The University of Georgia Press
- publisherUniversity of Georgia Press
- publisher placeAthens, GA
- restrictionsAll rights reserved
- rights holderUniversity of Georgia Press