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Suburban Safari: A Year on the Lawn
ISBN 1582344795 / 9781582344799 / 1-58234-479-5
Publisher Bloomsbury USA
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When science writer Hannah Holmes decided to spend a year studying the inhabitants of her 0.2-acre patch of ground in suburban Portland, Maine, she went about the task with an ecologist's enthusiasm and a scientist's compulsive eye for detail. The result is an entertaining and effortlessly compelling examination of nature's stubborn (and successful) struggle to exist in the face of daunting manmade challenges. Holmes's lawn, unfertilized and rarely mowed, turns out to be a surprisingly diverse ecosystem of bird, mammal, and insect life--a self-perpetuating, constantly evolving community of chipmunks, ladybugs, spiders, slugs, and crows. These creatures, and the complex relationships between them, are the raw material for Holmes's incisive reflections on natural history, urban ecology, and the ignominious story of the over-irrigated, pesticide-laced American lawn--rolling out, Holmes notes, at a rate of one million acres per year. What drives Holmes is not just concern for the natural environment but a ravenous curiosity about every aspect of the world around her, from the sex lives of dragonflies and squirrels, to the murderous tendencies of the English sparrows that have colonized her land, to the survival strategies of the mosquitoes, sow bugs, and slugs that inhabit her yard by the hundreds. Holmes is an environmentalist to the core, but she never sermonizes. With Suburban Safari, an intimate, wry, and often challenging look at a world most of us never bother to notice, she ably demonstrates humanity's responsibility to a natural world that exists all around us--even in our own backyards. --Erica C. Barnett [via]