The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Summer World, by Bernd Heinrich

We have become accustomed to thinking in terms of “the environment.” But to me, Bernd Heinrich’s Summer World is not a book about the environment. Rather, let’s go back to a term used more frequently a few decades ago and say that this book is about ecology. That strikes me as a much more accurate term in discussing this thoughtful book of one naturalist’s observations.

Summer World is retired biology professor’s memoir of his recent summers in New England. He spent much of the time outdoors, looking at bugs and leaves and tadpoles and all sorts of little flora and fauna that the rest of us ignore. This book made me realize how much I don’t see, and that it’s possible to miss the trees for the forest.

In fact, Summer World made me want to go for a very slow walk in the woods, with a notebook and a small magnifying glass, looking at the ground, tree bark, leaf edges, and insect flight patterns. Summer World made me want to pay close attention to annoying little insects. Summer World made me think about what happens to ants over the winter. Summer World made me want to re-walk several hikes at a much slower pace. Summer World was a revelation.

This is an intelligent, thought-provoking, insightful, and important book. It is not a beach book — Heinrich does not use a 10-cent vocabulary, nor does he do all of your thinking for you. I like that about it, and I can’t recommend this book strongly enough.

As for animals, this book is about animals in their natural environment, so there are good things and unpleasant things, which we always see in nature. It is therefore MOSTLY SAFE for animal lovers.

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June 5, 2010 - Posted by | animals, birds, Book Reviews, memoir, nonfiction, wildlife | , , , , , , , ,

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