June 08, 2006

Wild America

Hello. The weather has been so cool this week. Literally. I don't do well once it hits the mid-80s, especially when it's humid. But lately it's been a nice mix of clouds, rain, some sun and a little breeze. So I'm in a good mood. I thought I'd tell you about the book I'm reading right now. It's called Wild America by Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher. Sarah gave it to me for Christmas I think, but I've only gotten around to reading just recently. It's great! Peterson is most famous for his various field guides, Fisher is essentially his British counterpart (really into seabirds I guess). Anyway, in 1953 these two guys did a huge tour of North America, mostly centered around birdwatching but incorporating tons of other stuff as well. They were both naturalist in the fullest sense of the word (well, they weren't nudists, but you know what I mean). Birds are just a slice of the pie. They talk about flowers, trees, butterflies, mammals, fish, and bigger topics too like history, geography, population and distribution statistics, human impact on the environment, etc. I know that sounds kind of boring but it's not, trust me. The book's narrative goes back and forth between Fisher's actual journal entries during the trip and Peterson's commentary. They started in Newfoundland and are now in Florida, but I'm only on chapter 11. This was Fisher's first trip to North America and it's really neat to see his reactions to a brand new continent; things that are different, things that are familiar. The book is fascinating not only because a large part of it is about birds but also because of the time it was written. It's cool to hear a "first hand" account of America from 50 years ago. Things have really changed, it's hard to believe it's the same place. So... great book, I highly recommend it. Check it out on Amazon.com here. You might also like to check out Kenn Kaufman's classic Kingbird Highway which is more-or-less along the same lines. Well, I guess that's it for now.