Tuesday, November 27, 2007

book learnin' about ecology

in my short (and failed) quest to read more before cable started to rot my brain (too late), i had checked out 3 books from the library, two i'd heard of and one i had not. the former ones, river of grass by marjorie stoneman douglas and their eyes were watching god by zora neale hurston, gathered dust and i only got a chapter or two into each of them. river of grass was a recap of all that i knew of the everglades. a great book for me to read had i never experienced the majesty of the swamp, or one to collect dust on my bookshelf for pretentious purposes. hurston's tale was described as a seminal work of african-american fiction. a great novel. i barely made a dent in it before lee sent a walk in the woods by bill bryson. no classic american literature, but a great, fast read nonetheless.

having renewed all three books, and returning two unread, i felt obligated to at least crack open the latter of the three: janisse ray's ecology of a cracker childhood. boy, am i glad i did! much like one of my favorites a land remembered, it details a natural history of georgia's longleaf pine forests. juxtaposed next to her poor upbringing in rural baxley, it certainly is an interesting read. the descriptions of the pine lowlands in southern georgia and how mankind has raped and pillaged them were vivid and disheartening. the book ends with this call to arms:

We Southerners area people fighting again for our country, defending the last remaining stands of real forest. Although we love to frolic, the time has come to fight. We must fight.
In new rebellion we stand together, black and white, urbanite and farmer, workers all, in keeping Dixie. We are a patient people who for generations have not been ousted from this land, and we are willing to fight for the birthright of our children's children and their children's children, to be of a place, in all ways, for all time. What is left is not enough. When we say the South will rise again we can mean that we will allow the cutover forests to return to their former grandeur and pine plantations to grow wild.
The whippoorwill is calling from the edge.

if you call yourself a naturalist, conservationist, ecologist, environmentalist, Southerner, woodsman, forester, READ THIS BOOK.


wanderlust said...

when you get time go back to Zora...I highly recommend her.

Mr. J said...

I know you did, among others.