Winter is the season that most tests our mettle. There are the obvious challenges of the weather-freezing rain, wind chill, deep snow, dangerous ice-but also the psychological burdens of waiting for spring and the enduring often false starts that accompany its eventual return. On the surface, perhaps, winter might seem an odd season for a nature book, but there is plenty of beauty and life in the woods if only we know where to look. The stark, white landscape sparkles in the sunshine and glows beneath the moon on crisp, clear nights; the opening up of the forest makes it easy to see long distances; birds, some of which can be easily seen only in winter, flock to feeders; and animals-even those that should be hibernating-make surprise visits from time to time. Appalachian Winter offers acclaimed naturalist Marcia Bonta’s view of one season, as experienced on and around her 650-acre home on the westernmost ridge of the hill-and-valley landscape that dominates central Pennsylvania. Written in the style of a journal, each day’s entry focuses on her walks and rambles through the woods and fields that she has known and loved for over thirty years. Along the way she discovers a long-eared owl in a dense stand of conifers, tracks a bear through an early December snowfall, explains the life and ecological niche of the red-backed vole, and examines the recent arrival of an Asian ladybug. These are but a few of the tidbits sprinkled throughout the book, interwoven with the human stories of Bonta’s family, as well as the highway builders and shopping-mall developers that threaten the idyllic peacefulness of her mountain. This is the fourth and final volume of Bonta’s seasonal meditations on the natural history of the northern Appalachian Mountains. Her gentle, charming accounts of changing weather and of the struggles faced by plants, animals, and insects breathe new warmth into the coldest months of the year.
Not since Edwin Way Teale's Journeys Through the Four American Seasons has a seasonal series been so compelling. Marcia Bonta is a gifted naturalist and remarkable writer who makes our most maligned northern months come alive with beauty and freshness in Appalachian Winter.
Marcia Bonta is a diligent, broad-ranging naturalist whose love for the Appalachians shines through on every page of this delightful book.
An illuminating read sure to inspire you to venture out into the snowy woods for some exploration of your own.
If you enjoy winter and nature, this is a great book. If you like nature but not winter, it still might be a great book because Bonta shows that winter is not lacking in natural delights.
Marcia Bonta is a freelance nature writer and the author of, in addition to her Appalachian seasons books, Outbound Journeys in Pennsylvania, More Outbound Journeys in Pennsylvania, Women in the Field, American Women Afield (editor), and Escape to the Mountain. She has written more than three hundred magazine articles for such publications as Birder’s World, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Living Bird, and Hawk Mountain News. She writes ÒPennsylvania Outbound Journeys for the FamilyÓ for Pennsylvania Wildlife and “The Naturalist’s Eye” for Pennsylvania Game News. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Season of Adventure: Traveling Tales and Outdoor Journeys of Women over 50 ; American Nature Writing 1996; On Nature’s Terms: Contemporary Voices; and Reading the Landscape: Writing a World . She is a popular lecturer on nature and nature writing.learn more