Monday, January 02, 2006
During the Month of January the Blog Reading Group, of which I am a member, called Whorled Leaves is reading and commenting on Bernd Heinrich's Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival. If you have any interest, feel free to join in on comments on the Whorled Leaves blog. Here is the introduction that I put up yesterday. (I chose the book for January.)
I first encountered Bernd Heinrich in his book Ravens in Winter. It was a wonderful look at raven behaviour and Bernd behaviour too. His approach to the world of nature is unique, interesting, and enlightening. I am sure that you will enjoy his shorter notes on the variety of animals he looks at in Winter World.
I found it interesting that Bernd starts his book with references to Jack London's "To Build a Fire" on page one of his introduction. If you've missed reading that short story by Jack London, try to find it and give it a read. It's a fine introduction to an attempt of human survival in bitter, biting cold. It was the cold of the Yukon and much colder that I have ever tried to endure. I think that I, like Bernd, was a bit obsessed by Jack London when I was a youngster. It never occurred to me that I would ever face cold like that but it has happened to a lesser degree. I took part in a winter survival course and spent the night outside in a snow shelter at -30 C on one occasion and was out cross-country skiing at wind chills of -40 C on another. I am not sure that Bernd's book would have helped much on either trip but it would have given me more to look at and think about during those times. Bernd looks at kinglets, weasels, squirrels, turtles, beavers, frogs, insects, bats, bears and butterflies among other animals in this book. Some of the methods of staying alive will astound you and you may find yourself out in the woods looking for some of the animals in the near future. Happy reading and let us know what winter adventures you have had and what interests you about Bernd's studies.