Great Explorers Need Great Guides

By | August 7, 2013

This week I’ve been reading a classic in the area of ecology writing, May Theilgaard Watts’ book, Reading the American Landscape. I was going to rave about the book and the way it so deftly elucidates the way native species have been pushed to the edges in North America. I was going to go on ad nauseum about how it’s a great tool for interpreting the natural and human history of a place. I like that about the book a lot. Some thought went into the book, but it’s not all heady. Lots of practical information too.

May Theilgaard Watts, Trees, Tree Finder, ReviewThen, just this afternoon, I realized that Theilgaard Watts was also the author of two of the handiest books you’ll ever find for identifying trees: Tree Finder and Winter Tree Finder! As anyone who has tried to id deciduous trees after they have all shed their leaves, the latter book is a God-send.

A lot of my reading on nature topics seems to be motivated by a desire to not look like an idiot when I am out hiking. So far, it’s not been terribly successful, but there’s no shame in consulting a guide, and these two slim pocket-sized volumes are a lot more convenient than finding a chatty naturalist to follow you around.