by Mary Leister
This is a nature book with a similar feel to Pilgrim at Tinker Creek or A Sand County Almanac. It was a very pleasant surprise- especially when I discovered it describes the small wildlife inhabitants and flora of Maryland, where I recently lived. Illustrated by dated-looking but charming photographs by Robert Wirth, Wildlings is a series of nature essays from walks the author took with her dog (who has a very marginal presence in the book) through fields, marshes and woodlands. Like Dillard, Mary Leister focuses attention on the smaller things- frogs, insects, birds, flowers, mushrooms, leaf buds. Some of the more interesting thing I read were of spiders with maternal behavior, secrets of skunk cabbage regrowth, the existence of the wheel bug (I\’ve never seen them before), and mushrooms that glow in the dark. I\’ve always found tent caterpillars repulsive (we battled infestations in my mother\’s fruit trees, the only way to get rid of them was by cutting off tented branches and burning them) but she makes even these little crawlers interesting. This wonderful book was an enjoyable read that fully held my interest. It almost made me want to crawl through the grass to see the smaller creatures hidden underfoot in my own small yard.
Rating: 4/5 180 pages, 1976