Wintergreen: Rambles in a Ravaged Land, by Robert Michael Pyle
Challenge: A book based in your current town or region (Willapa Hills is close enough to Seattle, right?)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Review: This is a lovely book. I have now purchased a fine hardback copy for myself, and I suggest you do likewise. I feel it has earned some rereadings. On my first reading of it, I find Pyle’s writing some of the most compelling among naturalists – he takes you along on his lifetime of drizzly forest walks, canoe trips, quiet musings in the glade. A knowledgeable biologist, he conveys much about animal behavior, post-logging vegetation, and seasonal ecology. Yet despite that fact that you have the nagging feeling you are learning something, you’re also strongly reminded of Tolkien. Pyle captures the magical feeling brought on by beds of moss and springy ferns sparkly with dew, and marries it to the concepts of ecology: old-growth and epiphytes (my new word from this book); moisture, rot, and regrowth.
I could probably write a book on how much I love this book – he talks about the constant political struggles in the NW: logging, litter, land management; he talks about the people: “urban naturalists” and “countrymen,” hunters and gatherers, natives and non-natives; he has entire chapters devoted to stumps, essays suggesting the creation of words to describe the different types of rain; he takes you on a tour of salamanders, of tailed frogs (which, as far as this book tells, I have caught WAY more of than he has).
This book is basically an ode to the Pacific Northwest. Read it. It’s great.