In the High Peaks

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Bookshelf Travelling in Insane Times #9: NATURE!

Note:  This Post Is Not Complete--I Will Add Tomorrow.
At home we've been madly dashing about to accomplish all manner of outdoor tasks before the black fly swarms start devouring us. In the midst of this over-exuberance, I overdid a bit, and that's why I am so impossibly late with my post this week.

I need to announce two things:
We  have a new blogger (or two) joining our Bookshelf Adventure Travel. Contributing for the past two weeks is Staircase Wit (also listed in the sidebar). Welcome! 

This Week: Nature Writing
I have just recently recovered from my phobia of ticks. As you may know, ticks in the northeastern U.S. cause a multiple of dreadful diseases. Multiple (at least five) horrible diseases, and not only Lyme Disease.
So, I follow the tick-preventative protocol and have just recently ventured forth after avoiding the woods for a couple of years. In my total bliss of interacting with nature once again, I've found I'm drawn close to my many bookshelves replete with nature books. I own lots of birding books as most birders do, because each birding book offers a unique view and perspective and features for identifying birds.
I own lots of wildflower identification books, and plant identification books, and loads of tree identification books, including one entitled Bark, that is about identifying trees solely from their bark. (Really useful in the winter.)
Of course, the nonfiction nature books relating to identification pertain solely to the Northeastern U.S., and are not of much interest to people residing in other areas of the country and the world. I own books with titles like The Eastern Forest, Eastern Butterflies, Dragonflies, etc.

However, I'm also interested in writing that depicts adventures in nature, memoirs about the same, whether in North America or Europe. There are not enough of these around to match my appetite for them. I loved Cheryl Strayed's Wild, about her trial by fire hiking the grueling, epic, entire Pacific Crest Trail solo. This is, I think, great adventure reading no matter where you live on the planet. There's Bill Bryson's book about hiking the Appalachian Trail, and the recent book Epic Solitude by Katherine Keith, set mostly in Alaska, though she, too, like Strayed, writes about her experiences hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Keith reveals her experiences living within the Arctic Circle in Alaska, participating in the Iditarod and in other premiere  dog-sled races in northern Canada and Alaska.

Then there are memoirs/books of people's encounters with nature that date back to an earlier era.
Hal Borland is one of my favorite nature writers from the 1950s and 1960s. I own several of his books.


  1. I live on Eastern Long Island. Our woods are infested with ticks. I also love walking in the woods. I have had Lyme Disease. I actually showed no symptoms but tested positive. I went through the antibiotic treatment. Unfortunately, having had it confers no immunity.

    Sorry to hear that you have such a problem with the black flies

    I also have a lot of nature identification guides for birds and plants in the North Eastern United States. I think my mushroom one is the most interesting.

    Nature oriented memoirs and travel books can make for very satisfying reading.

    1. Yes, Brian, you are in a place that ticks consider their heaven! So, too, was the case when we lived in eastern Massachusetts. Our vet told us in 1999 that 78 percent of Greater Boston residents test positive for Lyme antibodies, whether they've been sick or not.
      When we first moved here, there were zero ticks, then for years just a few ticks, and now lots of people testing positive for tick diseases.
      One of my dogs tested positive for ehrlichiosis, which at the time, was supposed to only be present in the southern tier of NY, not the Adirondacks. It's very scary, I think. Fortunately there are great sprays to spray on one's boots, and on one's clothing if one wishes, and tick repellent clothing. It's not a cure-all by any means.

  2. I hate ticks! I haven't had any fortunately but our cat has. Last year she had two - and one was on her lip. We didn't feel confident to remove it ourselves, so had to take her to the vet.

    I love nature books two and have read Bill Bryson's book about hiking the Appalachian Trail but none of the other books you mention. Wild sounds most dramatic!

    Here's the link to my Bookshelf post -

    1. I would definitely recommend Wild, if you are a reader who enjoys reading about ultimate, extreme adventures. Quite riveting. I read it when I was in the hospital with a broken leg in 2012. It was diverting, to say the least.

  3. Black flies (and other things) are why I don't like nature - except in books! I once persuaded a couple to go to Prince Edward Island for their honeymoon (they asked for drivable destinations) and their arrival coincided with the black fly season and the groom never spoke to me again.

    1. I think that was very nasty of him, frankly! Actually, it's surprising how one becomes accustomed to bugs. Not that I like them--hell, no! But there are good repellents and hats and ways around them. In summer we're pestered by mosquitoes and deer flies, but in a dry summer they're not too bad, and in a wet summer, one prepares for them. As long as you keep moving, it's not too, too bad.

  4. Nature books, especially this time of year and during pandemic, seem perfect.

    When we had indoor/outdoor cats and our lot was wooded I found 2 ticks on me, and, yes, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease (about 15 years ago). Fortunately, I got to doc early & was treated with antibiotics and I never had any long-term consequences after the initial high fever etc.

    1. Hi Diane,
      Massachusetts is so ultra-loaded with ticks, that's for sure. So glad you didn't suffer any long-term effects. I have one nephew who appears to have permanent neurological damage from Lyme. He is able to work at some jobs, but he can't drive due to his visual disturbances. He can't work full-time. He has some memory issues and cognitive issues. Unfortunately, he got Lyme and was not diagnosed for a very long time.
      But today there are so many tick preventative protocols--anti-tick clothing, anti-tick spray (excellent for hiking boots and pants, etc.), and the whole stripping and laundering immediately, and showering, etc.
      And I also agree that there are so many ways to enjoy nature without going into extremely tick-infested sites.
      I hope you can enjoy the spring without worry about ticks.

  5. It doesn't surprise me that you like nature books and related writing. The closest I come to that are books about trees, which I have always liked. My father used to do tree identification for scouts. Glen recently read Alta California about a man who walked from San Diego to San Francisco.

    1. Hi Tracy,
      Oh, there are so many fantastic fiction and nonfiction books about trees that have been published in the past few years. I've got to get to them. They're in my house, so I should go forth.
      I've studied trees intensively since we moved here 15 years ago. It's a fascinating subject.
      Interesting about the man who walked from SD to SF. Did he walk on trails? I'm very curious about that.

  6. Ew, ticks, yuck! Both my dogs have had one but me, never. They're not so common here, thank goodness! They must be so prevalent because of some sort of imbalance in nature, I would think.

    I love the woods and I'm so glad you're able to walk in them again. There is a book called We Took To The Woods that might interest you. I haven't read it yet, but it looks good. I almost put it on my summer list.


    1. Hi Cleo,
      Yes, I own a copy of We Took to the Woods, and it is one of many books I own that I haven't read. Gasp! It's startling to realize sometimes.
      I'm glad the ticks haven't found you yet!

  7. I too share your aversion to ticks. They are the unwelcome traveler that is hard to avoid if you want to be out in nature. I remember my wife and daughter walking through some tall grass one early spring to get to a nature trail. All of a sudden we were covered, and I do mean covered, with baby ticks. Thankfully we were the only ones there as we stripped down in the parking lot to de-tick one another.

    Also, I wanted to mention that I participated in the Book Traveling adventure for the first time with a post up today.

    1. Hi Carl,
      What a startling experience! Some springs are like that with ticks. Somehow or other (knock on wood), the ticks so far haven't been so everpresent, from my observations. Of course, this can change at any time. We had a very cold spring and I expect due to our temps of 82 degrees today, they'll be popping or doing whatever it is ticks do.
      If you don't mind my asking, what state do you live in? (This is a tick question.)
      I live in northern New York and ten years ago ticks were not an issue, but they have moved in big-time.
      I'm so glad that you're joining in on the Bookshelf Travels.

  8. Also forgot to mention that I would recommend Upstream, the essay collection by Mary Oliver. It is very good.

    1. Oh, gosh, yes! I own this volume of essays, and can't believe I haven't read a single essay yet. Thanks so much for the reminder!