Monday, July 26, 2010

Book Review: Following the Water

I have found a new naturalist to read: David Carroll of Warner, NH. Following the Water is a journal of Carroll's observations and meditations as he follows the water in his bog from ice out until the first snow in the autumn. It is a fascinating account. This book is where I first learned of the predilection of otters to mutilate turtles while the turtles hibernate in winter. I first learned of canary grass here, which is on the invasive species watch list in Vermont. I learned that in New Hampshire, a blow down is called a wind throw, and a root ball is called a root hold. 

This is a quiet, lovely book that saddened me as Carroll explained the importance of unrestricted habitat for wildlife. In northern Vermont our forests are so large that we lose sight of the broken habitat in the lower forty-five states. Life needs unrestricted access to all types of habitat to survive and granting wildlife a few acres in the midst of a condo development doesn't cut it for successful living.  Carroll uses personal anecdotes to demonstrate this need for space and he is very effective. 

I have written about this book twice already: my turtle and otter post and my ebony jewelwing post. Carroll is able to capture the essence of animals in his writing. But I have to admit that Carroll was a challenge for me as a reader. He sent me to the dictionary several times for carr, scroll pond, procrypsis, coign, spates and zugunruhe. I leave you to find the definition of these words yourself.  

I have an agenda for next spring: I want to find a Blanding's turtle (or any turtle, for that matter, here in the Kingdom), and I want to follow the life cycle of mayflies. Just as when I read Bernd Heinrich, I want to photograph what I read about in these books. I have already bought another of Carroll's books: Swampwalker's Journal. Buy Following the Water. It's a book to reference often in the future.

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