Gift season book

Peter Rauch anamaria at GRINNELL.BERKELEY.EDU
Sat Nov 22 14:30:37 CST 1997

Another year, another book. Here's one that I finally got around to
reading. You might find it a nice gift for someone this holiday

Some quotes:
"And Nature is inordinately more intricate than the human mind can even
begin to perceive." (pg 36)

"Writing a book is therefore very satisfying to me because I can present
more of the thoughts and richness and complexity of detail that make the
[pursuit of scientific discovery] alive, interesting, and, I hope, also
more real." (pg 94)

"On the way back, we stop in Saint Johnsbury at the diner to mull over
and digest events. We wonder how anyone could possibly be interested in
the many mundane and often artificial things that seem to absorb so many
people, when nature is so _exciting_ and so available. We observe that
the excitement is hard won; it requires tremendous energy and
persistence.  ...  Nature is entertainment -- the greatest show on
earth."  (pg 221)

"When you get many observations, some of them often seem totally
incomprehensible and seemingly contradictory; but if you later find an
underlying pattern that unites them all, you see beauty! The more
observations the pattern pulls in, the greater the beauty." (pg 259)

"There has never yet been a day I've watched ravens when I didn't see
something new. This is what keeps me going." (pg 274)

"This day is a happy one for another reason. The paper I wrote on my
work over the last four winters has just appeared in _Behavioral Ecology
and Sociobiology_. All of that work reduced to fourteen pages of text!"
... A biological detective story differs from others in that the more
you find out, the more you know you don't know. ... My efforts will be
repaid if someone feels enriched by getting acquainted with an exciting
fellow creature that is accessibe to so many but known to so few." (pg

"This book is about a riddle: ...  In the body of the book I have
described the _process_ of exploring an exciting biological puzzle." (pg

And, so, Bernd Heinrich indeed tells of the "tremendous energy and
persistence" he invested in studying "Ravens in Winter". Anyone who does
field studies will recognize the excitement, work, and quiet rewards
that Bernie so artfully depicts in his book.  --a good stocking stuffer.

"Ravens in Winter", Bernd Heinrich, 379pp, Vintage Books edition 1991,
originally published 1989.

This and some of the books I mentioned last year might also be of
interest to the lawyers who want to understand what is the complexity of
biological/environmental systems that they bring to bear in courtroom
expert witness testimony.


Last years list of book stocking stuffers are as good today as they were

> Date:         Sun, 27 Oct 1996 07:59:02 PST
> Subject:      The Naturalist's Spirit
> All the discussion about the plight of taxonomy, systematics, and
> what many naturalists face is refreshing.
> The holiday season is upon us, so if you want to give yourself a real
> lift, or lift the spirits of some friends, give them one (or more!) of
> these books. They're full of fun and energy and competence and power
> and images and visions and nostalgia that is bound to move you and
> them, and they're all about what systematists and kindred souls do.
> Cheers,
> Peter
> Wilson, Edward O. "Naturalist". Warner Books 1995, xii+380pp.
>      originally published 1994 Island Press.
> Carr, Majorie H., Ed. "A Naturalist in Florida / A Celebration of Eden /
>      Archie Carr".  xxiii+264pp. 1994 Yale U.
> Weiner, Jonathan. "The Beak of the Finch". Vintage Books (Random House) 1995,
>      xvi+332pp.  originally published 1994 Knopf.
> Heinrich, Bernd. "One Man's Owl". x+224pp. 1987 Princeton U.
> Heinrich, Bernd. "A Year in the Maine Woods". 259pp. 1994 Addison-Wesley.

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