From Publishers Weekly
In this intimate reflection, Seidl, an ecologist, records her observations of life and ecology in the wooded Vermont hollow where she lives, depicting how human, animal and plant life is changing as the weather becomes warmer and less predictable. At Christmas, people are canoeing rather than skating; daffodils push through the ground in January; outbreaks of tent caterpillars, historically limited by winter deep freezes, stress the sugar bush. An ice-fishing derby is cancelled more times than it is run. They can't depend on the ice... to hold up. Seidl's tender descriptions of her young daughters' encounters with the natural world—skipping rocks, choosing Halloween pumpkins from the garden and gorging on the abundance of cherries picked off the tree—add personal poignancy to a subject few can stand to talk about at any length. Walking the woods with her husband and children on a Sunday morning, Seidl muses on the scale of life itself... its infinite unfolding, and how... present joy is a reflection of deep time, suggesting that, to avoid mass extinction, we evolve a new set of values... consonant with ecocentrism. (Mar.)
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Ecologist Seidl blends a well-researched environmental study with observations of small-town Vermont life, even as she reaches beyond New England by keeping her discussion of global warming artfully broadminded. Thus Mexico can easily figure into a chapter on butterflies and Japan fits nicely into a discussion of her backyard garden. But mostly Seidl remains firmly settled in Vermont, and just as Sue Hubbell so effectively draws readers into the Ozarks, this title recounts the stories of sugar-makers, farmers, and neighbors whose stalwart dedication to maintaining daily weather journals, including significant records of climate data, is reminiscent of the Old Farmer’s Almanac. The inclusion of her children in the narrative makes clear Seidl’s awareness of the work of Richard Louv, and makes the title prescient in ways that nature writers could ignore in the past. The fact of the matter is that Seidl brings her children into the story because it is their world that is so drastically changing. At once deeply personal and solidly scientific, Seidl’s chronicle manages to be concerned without being cloying. --Colleen Mondor