by Bernd Heinrich
I\’ve been wanting to read this one a long time, ever since I read Winter World by the same author. Somehow, it wasn\’t quite as good, but still very satisfying. Based mostly on first-hand observations made on his property in the Maine woods (and sometimes in Vermont), he goes into minute detail about how trees and wildlife prepare for and make the best of the warm summer months. The wildlife part really only covers small creatures- birds, frogs and insects- but of those I learned a great deal. Particularly the insects. There were many mentioned in this book that I never even heard of before, much less knew the particulars of how they live. Lovely details on just watching closely what is going on around us in the plant and animal world, and investigating when questions arise: why does this do this? or that the other? (although an answer is not always arrived at or given). Interesting observations on the raids of ants and laments about the loss of bees. In particular a few sentences at the very end of the book filled me with a sense of dread and fear- how warmer winters lately are killing off populations of insects that are the very basis of the food chain- and not in ways I would have expected. Not in ways that are easily overcome or undone, either. I was surprised (although I shouldn\’t be) at how the book digressed in a few places- there\’s a chapter that talks about how animals survive the desert heat in other places, and one speculating on the lives of prehistoric humans. I could see how parts of this book got developed later into the full-fledged Why We Run and Life Everlasting, but it made the latter half of Summer World feel a tad unfocused.
Books like this always make me want to go to the places where they're set and just be for a few weeks.
What a strange endorsement that is that you quoted…sounds like the author is everything but what made all the other authors famous in the first place. Reads a bit like a back-handed compliment to me.
It would be nice to visit- in the summer as this book depicts! The winter there (from his other book) sounds long, cold, and mostly survival-focused (for the wildlife).
Pretty funny, isn't it? Makes you wonder what is left that he is