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The Strangler Fig and Other Tales Field Notes of a Conservationist
978-0-7591-0676-5 • Hardback
December 2004 • $85.00 • (£51.95)
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978-0-7591-0677-2 • Paperback
November 2004 • $32.95 • (£19.95)
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Pages: 208
Size: 7 x 9
By Mary A. Hood
 
Nature | Environmental Conservation & Protection
AltaMira Press
Hood's travel memoir is a lyrical journey to places of great natural beauty and biological importance. As a poet and a scientist, she uses the language of both to recapture our human connection to nature. Her stories of tropical rain forests, deserts and prairies reveal the vulnerability of natural places and the consequences of unsustainable exploitation and urbanization. These essays are an act of conservation, to preserve places encountered and cared about, as part of our biological and historical heritage. This inspiring and informative work will be valuable for those interested in nature or travel memoirs, creative writing, ethnographic writing, and for all who are concerned with our broader sense of place in the global environment.
Mary A. Hood is professor emerita of biology at University of West Florida.
Part 1 Preface
Part 2 Acknowledgments
Part 3 Part I The Beginnings of an Ecological Ethics
Chapter 4 1 Louisiana: The Barge
Part 5 Part II Some Last Great Places
Part 6 South America: Introduction
Chapter 7 2 A Wilderness: Patagonia
Chapter 8 3 Highlands: Patagonia Revisited
Chapter 9 4 Drylands: The Atacama Desert
Part 10 Central America and Mexico: Introduction
Chapter 11 5 Tropical Places: Costa Rica, the Yucatan, and Panama
Part 12 Part III Nature as Connection
Chapter 13 6 Kinship with the Natural World: Mitchellsville Gorge Trail, New York
Chapter 14 7 Social Connections: Osprey Nature Trail, Iowa
Chapter 15 8 Belonging to Place: Life Birds, Vermont
Part 16 Part IV Sanctuaries
Chapter 17 9 Private Lands: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Chapter 18 10 National Refuges: A Festival of Cranes, New Mexico
Chapter 19 11 Preserves: Prairies of Iowa and Louisiana
Part 20 Part V Eco-Myths
Chapter 21 12 South Sea Island Paradise: Bali and Lombok, Indonesia
Chapter 22 13 Survival of the Fittest: Survival Camp in New Jersey
Chapter 23 14 Africa as Wilderness: Kenya and Tanzania
Part 24 Part VI The Legacy of Corporatization
Chapter 25 15 Sprawl: Ft McDowell in Arizona
Chapter 26 16 Impoverishment: Hudson Bay, Canada
Chapter 27 17 Extinction: In Praise of Trees, Washington
Chapter 28 18 More Extinction: A Pygmy Owl in Texas
Part 29 Part VII Bioregionalism: The Ethics of "It all Begins and Ends at Home"
Chapter 30 19 Home as Region: A Southern Fringe, the Gulf Coast
Chapter 31 20 Home as Personal: The Home Place, Florida
Part 32 References
Part 33 Index
Part 34 About the Author
This is a delightful natural history of some of the most enticing places in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling to these destinations and viewing the magic of the flora and fauna of these locales through the eyes of an accomplished scientist and naturalist.
Mary Swander, Iowa State University


Part travel memoir, part nature guide, part social justice musings, this book is a beautifully written journey through some of the last wild (and not so wild) places on earth. As a microbiologist and ecologist, Mary Hood is eminently qualified to observethe natural world, from the penguins of Antarctica to the towering trees and tiny limpets of the Pacific Northwest and the plants and birds of her own Florida backyard. As a poet, Hood is wonderfully adept at translating her observations into lyrical, readable prose. Throughout the book, Hood uses the notion of a 'sense of place' to connect her stories together. She argues that until humans develop a more encompassing sense of their place within the world's ecosystems, we will continue to lose habitat andbiodiversity at alarming rates. A useful tool for naturalists is Hood's inclusion of scientific as well as common names for most of the flora and fauna she encounters. Another bonus is her bibliography of well over 100 items by naturalists, nature lovers, birders, scientists, poets, and travel writers. This book is a lovely read?I recommend it to anyone with an interest in beautiful descriptions of the natural world and humanity's place in it.
Ann Hibner Koblitz, Arizona State University


The Strangler Fig and Other Tales hugs the reader from beginning to end while providing continuous enchantment. Mary Hood shows us what it means, both aesthetically and ethically, to care about 'nature' and its wonders. Hers is a welcoming tale that offers a spacious place for the least as well as the most ecologically minded readers. By taking us with her on journeys to several American regions—the south, the midwest, the northeast—as well as to South America, Central America, and Mexico, Hood's rich narrative draws dense, moving connections between our own well-being and that of the world we share with other life forms.
Mary Rogers, University of West Florida


Mary Hood's book is entertaining, factual, and philosophical. The travelogue slant to the book is appealing, particularly for places that I had traveled myself, especially Tierra del Fuego. I readily recommend the book to those who enjoy nature and travel—there is much to entertain both the amateur and the expert.
Rita R. Colwell, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland, College Park and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public


Part travel memoir, part nature guide, part social justice musings, this book is a beautifully written journey through some of the last wild (and not so wild) places on earth. As a microbiologist and ecologist, Mary Hood is eminently qualified to observe the natural world, from the penguins of Antarctica to the towering trees and tiny limpets of the Pacific Northwest and the plants and birds of her own Florida backyard. As a poet, Hood is wonderfully adept at translating her observations into lyrical, readable prose. Throughout the book, Hood uses the notion of a 'sense of place' to connect her stories together. She argues that until humans develop a more encompassing sense of their place within the world's ecosystems, we will continue to lose habitat and biodiversity at alarming rates.A useful tool for naturalists is Hood's inclusion of scientific as well as common names for most of the flora and fauna she encounters. Another bonus is her bibliography of well over 100 items by naturalists, nature lovers, birders, scientists, poets, and travel writers. This book is a lovely read—I recommend it to anyone with an interest in beautiful descriptions of the natural world and humanity's place in it.
Ann Hibner Koblitz, Arizona State University


 
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