Monday, May 20, 2019

Bruce Beehler's "Natural Encounters"

Bruce Beehler is a research associate in the Division of Birds at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Natural Encounters: Biking, Hiking, and Birding Through the Seasons, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Encounters is, indeed, typical of the book, offering up a handsome text illustration of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker perched on a tree trunk as well as a short bit of text singing the praises of this unusual migratory woodpecker. A snippet of text from page 99 is indicative:
...the herky-jerky staccato drumming produced by the territorial male is both memorable and amusing—it sounds as if the bird is sending a signal in some kind of drunken Morse Code...
This in-the-field description captures the intent of the book, which is to take the reader on a twelve-month-long walk through the woods—down to the river, over the hill, and then back home, taking note of the seasonal ebb and flow of the lives of plants and animals from month to month. The narrative, in places, lets the creatures do the talking, and attempts to situate the reader in amongst it all—summer, fall, winter, spring, in all their natural glory.

Moreover, the narrative leads the reader not only to green spaces near the Nation’s Capital, but also takes the reader to special places up and down the East Coast where nature rules. The point of the discussion of nature near and far is that the smart nature lovers among us use nature as a guiding principle for their recreational movements, a weekend here, and summer jaunt of ten days there. Always to some place offering the best that nature has to offer. And that is the seasonal plan—to be there when the wild things are in full celebration. Be along the Potomac for the runs of shad and herring. Be on the sands of the Outer Banks for the passage of the Atlantic Gannets in their great numbers. Camp among the Balsam Firs and spruces in northern New England when the wood warblers are singing their hearts’ out. These are the things that make for a life well lived in the bosom of nature.
Visit Bruce Beehler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue