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This title in other editions

Suburban Safari: A Year on the Lawn

by

Suburban Safari: A Year on the Lawn Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The suburban lawn sprouts a crop of contradictory myths. To some, its a green oasis; to others, its eco-purgatory. Science writer Hannah Holmes spent a year appraising the lawn through the eyes of the squirrels, crows, worms, and spiders who think of her backyard as their own. Suburban Safari is a fascinating and often hilarious record of her discoveries: that many animals adore the suburban environment, including bears and cougars venturing in from the woods; how plants, in their struggle for dominance, communicate with their own kind and battle other species; and that ways already exist for us to grow healthier, livelier lawns.

Hannah Holmes is the author of The Secret Life of Dust. Her science and travel writing has appeared in publications including the New York Times Magazine, Outside, Sierra, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. She lives in South Portland, Maine.
The lush green lawn is a long-standing symbol of success in America, but for the past few decades it has also gotten a bad rap. Criticized by ecologists as "sterile" and "unnatural," this lovingly cultivated swath has been recast as a homeowner's guilty pleasure. Yet as science writer Hannah Holmes reveals in this investigation into that little patch of grass in our backyard, there's a whole circus of activity taking place right under our noses.

Equipped with just a notebook and her infectious curiosity, Holmes spent a year on her lawn to discover exactly what's going on. And what discoveries she made: Holmes here describes a world teeming with charming and not so charming animals, from alarmist crows to cheeky chipmunks, graceful spiders to sinister earthworms. As she befriends some and runs from others—skunks, for example, prove to be the sort of neighbors best kept at arm's length—she also unearths fascinating and ferocious struggles in the plant world. While native and invasive species duke it out for dominance over this tiny piece of earth, they enact a chronicle of New World versus Old World, strikingly similar to the human history of America.

As the seasons progress, Holmes calls in the experts, inviting over biologists, botanists, entomologists, ecologists, and energy specialists to guide us through this bustling community of plants and animals. With their help, and through Holmes's endlessly compelling investigation, we are introduced to miniature life-and-death dramas and given the answers to remarkable mysteries—everything from the eastward expansion of fearless cougars, to the sneaky way plants wage chemical warfare, to the secret hibernation of hummingbirds.

"Witty environmentalists are as rare as shy politicians. But in Surburban Safari, Hannah Holmes laughs at herself while celebrating the wild kingdom she explores . . . Holmes is a science writer who doesn't lecture. She shares the joy of discovery."—USA Today
 
"There are no small ecologists, only small ecosystems. Hannah Holmes . . . finds as much teeming drama in 'this two-tenths-acre empire' as in any Shakespearean kingdom . . . Delightfully funny, though not so comical that we fail to appreciate how much we're learning."—Boston Globe
 
"Holmes' backyard assumes strange, oversize proportions in the course of this fascinating book."—Los Angeles Times
 
"Punchy and chock-full of strange and wonderful facts . . . Holmes makes it seem utterly commonplace to invite a chipmunk into one's home or spend the afternoon observing slugs."—Oregonian
 
"This is not just a very funny and very informative piece of writing, and not just a squirrel's horde of interesting information about the place you live. It's also a very important book—a graceful and forceful reminder that the natural world is everywhere all around us, to be savored and to be protected."—Bill McKibben, author of Enough and The End of Nature

"Hannah Holmes is a freewheeling, goofball Rachel Carson. Her obvious concern over our environmental blunderings never weighs down her brisk, charismatic prose or dampens her considerable wit. She opens our eyes to insect heroics underfoot, the complicated whimsy of crows, the secretive gore of spiders. Her curiosity and constantly questioning mind have led her to create one of the most unique, entertaining, effortlessly educational homages to nature since Euell Gibbons ate a pine tree."—Mary Roach, author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

"Suburban Safari proves once and for all that there is life in the suburbs and that it's worth thinking hard about how to handle it. Prepare to never look at an old crow the same way again."—Robert Sullivan, author of Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the Citys Most Unwanted Inhabitants

"Zippy as a squirrel racing across Main Street, and as jam-packed as a chipmunk's cheeks with facts that wow. Suburban Safari is full of absorbing drama, alarming data, and adorable critters. My 'Year on the Lawn' with Hannah Holmes passed all too quickly, but the message in these pages is powerful and lasting indeed."—Sy Montgomery, author of Seasons of the Wild

"With infectious enthusiasm and faith in nature's doggedness in the face of encroaching humanity, science writer Holmes follows the four seasons as they play out in her own micro-habitat. Raised on a farm, the author left country life far behind when she moved to New York City for several years. Now she's compromised between the two extremes, setting up house on two-tenths of an acre in suburban Portland, Maine. She's determined to immerse herself in the workings of her patch of ground, and though it isn't a lot of land, it turns out to be more than enough to nurture many varieties of insect, bird, and mammal species. All are fodder for Holmes's meditations on natural history, zoology, and the current American landscape. The writer encourages nature in her own backyard through benign neglect; she doesn't use chemical fertilizers on the grass and grows only what can survive biweekly lawn mowing. (When her lawn mower breaks in late summer, she's fascinated by the resultant growth.) Other than that, she's a typical resident, blessed with an omnivorous curiosity and a good pair of binoculars. She gets to know intimately the crows in her yard, examines all the insects she can find under the microscope, and tames a chipmunk she dubs 'Cheeky.' Even the barren branches of winter are greeted with delight: Finally, she can see what's been going on behind all those leaves. Holmes doesn't confine her interest to sentient creatures. A meditation on wolves rapidly turns into a discussion of the last ice age and how it must have manifested in her little corner of the world. The lawn itself, as a feature of the modern landscape, also comes in for a sociological and historical examination. A cracking good reminder that an appreciation of the wonders of nature need not be reserved for special occasions."—Kirkus Reviews

"For readers who believe lawns are simply something needing mowing, science writer Holmes has news for them. Spending a year in her yard in South Portland, Maine, 'was to learn how to administer this patch of ground in the best interest of all its citizens.' Depending on the season, her two-tenths-acre empire is home to birds that lived in the ornamental shrubs, an oak tree, two pines, a chokecherry tree, and some sumacs. She records her yard as home to ladybugs (as dexterous as cats), crickets (they rarely hop, but plod along like the rest of us), and ants (they stop and tap antennae with each other). There are squirrels (one mated with five females and dropped dead), chipmunks (one lived in Holmes' house, and the book is dedicated to him), mice, skunks, woodchucks, and raccoons. All these creatures are her family, she says, 'and mine to take care of, to the best of my ability.'"—Booklist

"When science and travel writer Holmes turned her attention to her suburban backyard, she discovered a community of wildlife desperately trying to survive in a sprawling world of 'Wal-Marts and White-Crowned Sparrow Estates.' Holmes manages to find signs of hope and humor amid the spread of civilization, and she reports animal activities in her yard with the fervor of Wild Kingdom's Marlin Perkins and the laconic glee of Garrison Keillor. 'I'm a bit embarrassed to report that Cheeky has become the sun around which my world revolves,' she confesses about her resident chipmunk. That small mammal is just one of the many creatures to whom Holmes gives names and personalities, but she keeps her naturalist credibility intact by inviting scientists and other experts to join her in her lawn chair vigil. With their help, she includes plenty of facts about the habits of common crows, insects, squirrels and even trees. Science and humor serve as well-managed launching points for environmental lessons. By the end of her year, Holmes has gently taught us that the American lawn is a pesticide-laden patchwork that's increasing by a million acres every year, that heating a house can produce five tons of pollutants annually and that stewardship of our own backyards is our responsibility."—Publishers Weekly

Review:

"When science and travel writer Holmes (The Secret Life of Dust) turned her attention to her suburban backyard, she discovered a community of wildlife desperately trying to survive in a sprawling world of 'Wal-Marts and White-Crowned Sparrow Estates.' Holmes manages to find signs of hope and humor amid the spread of civilization, and she reports animal activities in her yard with the fervor of Wild Kingdom's Marlin Perkins and the laconic glee of Garrison Keillor. 'I'm a bit embarrassed to report that Cheeky has become the sun around which my world revolves,' she confesses about her resident chipmunk. That small mammal is just one of the many creatures to whom Holmes gives names and personalities, but she keeps her naturalist credibility intact by inviting scientists and other experts to join her in her lawn chair vigil. With their help, she includes plenty of facts about the habits of common crows, insects, squirrels and even trees. Science and humor serve as well-managed launching points for environmental lessons. By the end of her year, Holmes has gently taught us that the American lawn is a pesticide-laden patchwork that's increasing by a million acres every year, that heating a house can produce five tons of pollutants annually and that stewardship of our own backyards is our responsibility. Agent, Michelle Tessler. (Mar.) Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"An eye-opening plunge into a fascinating, nearly invisible world." discover.com

Review:

"A cracking good reminder that an appreciation of the wonders of nature need not be reserved for special occasions." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"In Suburban Safari, Holmes reveals the intriguing, unnoticed dramas that unfold daily on suburban lawns. The book features birds, small animals and plant life immersed in a real-life plot that ranges from suspenseful to surprising, from sad to joyful." Denver Post

Review:

"From all the evidence Hannah Holmes offers in her winning and worrying Suburban Safari, humanity is turning animals into high-stakes gamblers." Newsday

Review:

"Funny, smart, and refreshing, Suburban Safari introduces us to a world so extraordinary it's hard to believe it's been right in front of us all along." Forbes Book Club

Synopsis:

The suburban lawn sprouts a crop of contradictory myths. To some, it's a green oasis; to others, it's eco-purgatory. Science writer Hannah Holmes spent a year appraising the lawn through the eyes of the squirrels, crows, worms, and spiders who think of her backyard as their own. Suburban Safari is a fascinating and often hilarious record of her discoveries: that many animals adore the suburban environment, including bears and cougars venturing in from the woods; how plants, in their struggle for dominance, communicate with their own kind and battle other species; and that ways already exist for us to grow healthier, livelier lawns.

Hannah Holmes is the author of The Secret Life of Dust. Her science and travel writing has appeared in publications including the New York Times Magazine, Outside, Sierra, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. She lives in South Portland, Maine. The lush green lawn is a long-standing symbol of success in America, but for the past few decades it has also gotten a bad rap. Criticized by ecologists as sterile and unnatural, this lovingly cultivated swath has been recast as a homeowner's guilty pleasure. Yet as science writer Hannah Holmes reveals in this investigation into that little patch of grass in our backyard, there's a whole circus of activity taking place right under our noses.

Equipped with just a notebook and her infectious curiosity, Holmes spent a year on her lawn to discover exactly what's going on. And what discoveries she made: Holmes here describes a world teeming with charming and not so charming animals, from alarmist crows to cheeky chipmunks, graceful spiders to sinister earthworms. As she befriends some and runs from others--skunks, for example, prove to be the sort of neighbors best kept at arm's length--she also unearths fascinating and ferocious struggles in the plant world. While native and invasive species duke it out for dominance over this tiny piece of earth, they enact a chronicle of New World versus Old World, strikingly similar to the human history of America.

As the seasons progress, Holmes calls in the experts, inviting over biologists, botanists, entomologists, ecologists, and energy specialists to guide us through this bustling community of plants and animals. With their help, and through Holmes's endlessly compelling investigation, we are introduced to miniature life-and-death dramas and given the answers to remarkable mysteries--everything from the eastward expansion of fearless cougars, to the sneaky way plants wage chemical warfare, to the secret hibernation of hummingbirds. Witty environmentalists are as rare as shy politicians. But in Surburban Safari, Hannah Holmes laughs at herself while celebrating the wild kingdom she explores . . . Holmes is a science writer who doesn't lecture. She shares the joy of discovery.--USA Today There are no small ecologists, only small ecosystems. Hannah Holmes . . . finds as much teeming drama in 'this two-tenths-acre empire' as in any Shakespearean kingdom . . . Delightfully funny, though not so comical that we fail to appreciate how much we're learning.--Boston Globe Holmes' backyard assumes strange, oversize proportions in the course of this fascinating book.--Los Angeles Times Punchy and chock-full of strange and wonderful facts . . . Holmes makes it seem utterly commonplace to invite a chipmunk into one's home or spend the afternoon observing slugs.--Oregonian This is not just a very funny and very informative piece of writing, and not just a squirrel's horde of interesting information about the place you live. It's also a very important book--a graceful and forceful reminder that the natural world is everywhere all around us, to be savored and to be protected.--Bill McKibben, author of Enough and The End of Nature

Hannah Holmes is a freewheeling, goofball Rachel Carson. Her obvious concern over our environmental blunderings never weighs down her brisk, charismatic prose or dampens her considerable wit. She opens our eyes to insect heroics underfoot, the complicated whimsy of crows, the secretive gore of spiders. Her curiosity and constantly questioning mind have led her to create one of the most unique, entertaining, effortlessly educational homages to nature since Euell Gibbons ate a pine tree.--Mary Roach, author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Suburban Safari proves once and for all that there is life in the suburbs and that it's worth thinking hard about how to handle it. Prepare to never look at an old crow the same way again.--Robert Sullivan, author of Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants

Zippy as a squirrel racing across Main Street, and as jam-packed as a chipmunk's cheeks with facts that wow. Suburban Safari is full of absorbing drama, alarming data, and adorable critters. My 'Year on the Lawn' with Hannah Holmes passed all too quickly, but the message in these pages is powerful and lasting indeed.--Sy Montgomery, author of Seasons of the Wild

With infectious enthusiasm and faith in nature's doggedness in the face of encroaching humanity, science writer Holmes follows the four seasons as they play out in her own micro-habitat. Raised on a farm, the author left country life far behind when she moved to New York City for several years. Now she's compromised between the two extremes, setting up house on two-tenths of an acre in suburban Portland, Maine. She's determined to immerse herself in the workings of her patch of ground, and though it isn't a lot of land, it turns out to be more than enough to nurture many varieties of insect, bird, and mammal species. All are fodder for Holmes's meditations on natural history, zoology, and the current American landscape. The writer encourages nature in her own backyard through benign neglect; she doesn't use chemical fertilizers on the grass and grows only what can survive biweekly lawn

Synopsis:

The suburban lawn sprouts a crop of contradictory myths. To some, it's a green oasis; to others, it's eco-purgatory. Science writer Hannah Holmes spent a year appraising the lawn through the eyes of the squirrels, crows, worms, and spiders who think of her backyard as their own. Suburban Safari is a fascinating and often hilarious record of her discoveries: that many animals adore the suburban environment, including bears and cougars venturing in from the woods; how plants, in their struggle for dominance, communicate with their own kind and battle other species; and that ways already exist for us to grow healthier, livelier lawns.

About the Author

Hannah Holmes is the author of The Secret Life of Dust. Her science and travel writing has appeared in publications including the New York Times Magazine, Outside, Sierra, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. She lives in South Portland, Maine.

Table of Contents

Introduction
 
Spring
1: A Flood of Feathers
2: Bugs in My Belfry
3: Lawn of Many Waters
 
Summer
4: I Love You, Now Spit Out My Azalea
5: The Army of Earth Movers
6: The Freedom Lawn
 
Fall
7: Before
8: The Stately and Scheming Trees
9: Sifting Secrets from the Air
 
Winter
10: The Thirteen Coldest Days of the Year
11: Melting Pot Blues
12: Strange Family
 
References
 
Acknowledgments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781596910911
Subtitle:
A Year on the Lawn
Author:
Holmes, Hannah
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Subject:
Ecology
Subject:
Lawns
Subject:
Urban ecology
Subject:
Urban animals
Subject:
Life Sciences - Ecology
Subject:
General Nature
Subject:
Urban animals - Maine
Subject:
Household animals - Maine
Subject:
Environmental Studies-Environment
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20060221
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.19 x 5.46 x 0.725 in

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Related Subjects


Home and Garden » Gardening » Grasses and Groundcover
Home and Garden » Gardening » Writing
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Backyard Wildlife
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General

Suburban Safari: A Year on the Lawn Used Trade Paper
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$6.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781596910911 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "When science and travel writer Holmes (The Secret Life of Dust) turned her attention to her suburban backyard, she discovered a community of wildlife desperately trying to survive in a sprawling world of 'Wal-Marts and White-Crowned Sparrow Estates.' Holmes manages to find signs of hope and humor amid the spread of civilization, and she reports animal activities in her yard with the fervor of Wild Kingdom's Marlin Perkins and the laconic glee of Garrison Keillor. 'I'm a bit embarrassed to report that Cheeky has become the sun around which my world revolves,' she confesses about her resident chipmunk. That small mammal is just one of the many creatures to whom Holmes gives names and personalities, but she keeps her naturalist credibility intact by inviting scientists and other experts to join her in her lawn chair vigil. With their help, she includes plenty of facts about the habits of common crows, insects, squirrels and even trees. Science and humor serve as well-managed launching points for environmental lessons. By the end of her year, Holmes has gently taught us that the American lawn is a pesticide-laden patchwork that's increasing by a million acres every year, that heating a house can produce five tons of pollutants annually and that stewardship of our own backyards is our responsibility. Agent, Michelle Tessler. (Mar.) Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "An eye-opening plunge into a fascinating, nearly invisible world."
"Review" by , "A cracking good reminder that an appreciation of the wonders of nature need not be reserved for special occasions."
"Review" by , "In Suburban Safari, Holmes reveals the intriguing, unnoticed dramas that unfold daily on suburban lawns. The book features birds, small animals and plant life immersed in a real-life plot that ranges from suspenseful to surprising, from sad to joyful."
"Review" by , "From all the evidence Hannah Holmes offers in her winning and worrying Suburban Safari, humanity is turning animals into high-stakes gamblers."
"Review" by , "Funny, smart, and refreshing, Suburban Safari introduces us to a world so extraordinary it's hard to believe it's been right in front of us all along."
"Synopsis" by , The suburban lawn sprouts a crop of contradictory myths. To some, it's a green oasis; to others, it's eco-purgatory. Science writer Hannah Holmes spent a year appraising the lawn through the eyes of the squirrels, crows, worms, and spiders who think of her backyard as their own. Suburban Safari is a fascinating and often hilarious record of her discoveries: that many animals adore the suburban environment, including bears and cougars venturing in from the woods; how plants, in their struggle for dominance, communicate with their own kind and battle other species; and that ways already exist for us to grow healthier, livelier lawns.

Hannah Holmes is the author of The Secret Life of Dust. Her science and travel writing has appeared in publications including the New York Times Magazine, Outside, Sierra, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. She lives in South Portland, Maine. The lush green lawn is a long-standing symbol of success in America, but for the past few decades it has also gotten a bad rap. Criticized by ecologists as sterile and unnatural, this lovingly cultivated swath has been recast as a homeowner's guilty pleasure. Yet as science writer Hannah Holmes reveals in this investigation into that little patch of grass in our backyard, there's a whole circus of activity taking place right under our noses.

Equipped with just a notebook and her infectious curiosity, Holmes spent a year on her lawn to discover exactly what's going on. And what discoveries she made: Holmes here describes a world teeming with charming and not so charming animals, from alarmist crows to cheeky chipmunks, graceful spiders to sinister earthworms. As she befriends some and runs from others--skunks, for example, prove to be the sort of neighbors best kept at arm's length--she also unearths fascinating and ferocious struggles in the plant world. While native and invasive species duke it out for dominance over this tiny piece of earth, they enact a chronicle of New World versus Old World, strikingly similar to the human history of America.

As the seasons progress, Holmes calls in the experts, inviting over biologists, botanists, entomologists, ecologists, and energy specialists to guide us through this bustling community of plants and animals. With their help, and through Holmes's endlessly compelling investigation, we are introduced to miniature life-and-death dramas and given the answers to remarkable mysteries--everything from the eastward expansion of fearless cougars, to the sneaky way plants wage chemical warfare, to the secret hibernation of hummingbirds. Witty environmentalists are as rare as shy politicians. But in Surburban Safari, Hannah Holmes laughs at herself while celebrating the wild kingdom she explores . . . Holmes is a science writer who doesn't lecture. She shares the joy of discovery.--USA Today There are no small ecologists, only small ecosystems. Hannah Holmes . . . finds as much teeming drama in 'this two-tenths-acre empire' as in any Shakespearean kingdom . . . Delightfully funny, though not so comical that we fail to appreciate how much we're learning.--Boston Globe Holmes' backyard assumes strange, oversize proportions in the course of this fascinating book.--Los Angeles Times Punchy and chock-full of strange and wonderful facts . . . Holmes makes it seem utterly commonplace to invite a chipmunk into one's home or spend the afternoon observing slugs.--Oregonian This is not just a very funny and very informative piece of writing, and not just a squirrel's horde of interesting information about the place you live. It's also a very important book--a graceful and forceful reminder that the natural world is everywhere all around us, to be savored and to be protected.--Bill McKibben, author of Enough and The End of Nature

Hannah Holmes is a freewheeling, goofball Rachel Carson. Her obvious concern over our environmental blunderings never weighs down her brisk, charismatic prose or dampens her considerable wit. She opens our eyes to insect heroics underfoot, the complicated whimsy of crows, the secretive gore of spiders. Her curiosity and constantly questioning mind have led her to create one of the most unique, entertaining, effortlessly educational homages to nature since Euell Gibbons ate a pine tree.--Mary Roach, author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Suburban Safari proves once and for all that there is life in the suburbs and that it's worth thinking hard about how to handle it. Prepare to never look at an old crow the same way again.--Robert Sullivan, author of Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants

Zippy as a squirrel racing across Main Street, and as jam-packed as a chipmunk's cheeks with facts that wow. Suburban Safari is full of absorbing drama, alarming data, and adorable critters. My 'Year on the Lawn' with Hannah Holmes passed all too quickly, but the message in these pages is powerful and lasting indeed.--Sy Montgomery, author of Seasons of the Wild

With infectious enthusiasm and faith in nature's doggedness in the face of encroaching humanity, science writer Holmes follows the four seasons as they play out in her own micro-habitat. Raised on a farm, the author left country life far behind when she moved to New York City for several years. Now she's compromised between the two extremes, setting up house on two-tenths of an acre in suburban Portland, Maine. She's determined to immerse herself in the workings of her patch of ground, and though it isn't a lot of land, it turns out to be more than enough to nurture many varieties of insect, bird, and mammal species. All are fodder for Holmes's meditations on natural history, zoology, and the current American landscape. The writer encourages nature in her own backyard through benign neglect; she doesn't use chemical fertilizers on the grass and grows only what can survive biweekly lawn

"Synopsis" by ,
The suburban lawn sprouts a crop of contradictory myths. To some, it's a green oasis; to others, it's eco-purgatory. Science writer Hannah Holmes spent a year appraising the lawn through the eyes of the squirrels, crows, worms, and spiders who think of her backyard as their own. Suburban Safari is a fascinating and often hilarious record of her discoveries: that many animals adore the suburban environment, including bears and cougars venturing in from the woods; how plants, in their struggle for dominance, communicate with their own kind and battle other species; and that ways already exist for us to grow healthier, livelier lawns.

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