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Early Spring: An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World Hardcover – March 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; First Edition edition (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807085847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807085844
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,406,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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

More About the Author

Amy Seidl is an ecologist, writer, and teacher. She is the author of Early Spring: An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World. Amy teaches at the University of Vermont and lives near Burlington with her husband and their children in a solar-powered home.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
Amy Seidel's book is a beautifully crafted glimpse of her life in Vermont.
BevE
The book does an excellent job of weaving basic ecological principals into a very readable narrative.
Amazon Customer
She often repeated her examples, and she had a lot of filler that was unnecessary in my opinion.
Hippie_Hijabi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By also known as Moira on May 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I could tell by the end of the first chapter that I would never have bought this book for myself, and my feelings are quite strong due to the writing style of the author, the lack of real content, and what seems to be an underlying philosophical difference between the author and myself. I have rewritten this review several times trying to find a reasonable way to explain what I mean.

Early Spring is an introductory gloss on the local manifestations of global warming. Seidl alternates between rather detached scientific explanations and overly sensuous descriptions of her Vermont environs as she points out that global warming is apparent in one's own backyard. She asks, and prompts those who have obviously not been paying much attention until now to ask, what global warming means for traditions, communities, the future. The book never gets much further than this- posing the question- and could stand to be a great deal shorter for all it accomplishes.

I was looking forward to Early Spring, and I have to say I'm disappointed. The subject is important enough but never actually discussed- just set up. Over and over and over again.

Early Spring is done in a literary style- Seidl aims for aesthetic expression as much as the conveying of information. Unfortunately, her inflated style quickly reaches the point of overkill, and she does not manage to add much to the subject of global warming at all. I knew much of the subject matter going in; I do not live in Vermont but neither do I live in a cave. I kept waiting for her to tie it all together and take it further, and she doesn't. Instead I get to hear about her sensuous rapture at the bounty nature created apparently for no other purpose but her pleasure, and, of course, I get to hear more about her darling children.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Brasted on June 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Early Spring is a personal reflection on potential disruption of natural ecosystems and human communities from anthropogenic climate change. Seidle asks questions that need our attention and offers informed speculation but cannot tell us the answers; nobody really knows.

Early Spring is frequently engaging. Homey descriptions of family life and modern rural Vermont society are sweet but not overly sugared. Imperiled species and the complex ecosystem interactions they depend on are elegantly unfolded.

I found potential impacts on relationships in natural systems particularly thought provoking. No element is isolated, each rare species and well-loved creature relies on a complex web of relationships. Entire natural systems will not simply shift their activities smoothly to start spring earlier. Migrants depending on day-length cues will miss food sources that rely on temperature cues. Each change to complex dynamic systems will impact other elements of the system, generating cumulative changes we cannot anticipate.

Seidle writes as much about potential impacts on the social live of her community as on natural systems. I found these sections to be a little weaker. Speculations on how local customs may alter seem rather trite at times. I felt she tried a little too hard to relate global climate change to her own life when mostly all she can report is vague worries about things that seem rather minor in the big scheme.

Throughout Early Spring, Seidle consciously echoes Rachel Carson. Carson's Silent Spring made the little-known issue of unbridled pesticide use a compelling national concern, spurring federal legislation. Early Spring, in contrast, runs over well-known ground and articulates no policy agenda. This is a more personal work, smaller both physically and in scope than Carson's. Still and all, I enjoyed this small semi-precious gem of personal nature writing on an important and timely issue.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amy Seidl lives in Vermont and wrote about her discoveries through observing her back yard and the area around her. I bought this book for my Mum and she says it's the best book on climate change and the environment she's read. It is a wonderful read. Not full of the techno-jargon that scientists and climate-change wonks love to speak. Amy's knowledge of the subject and the insight that she brings to a Vermont countryside is beautifully expressed. I HIGHLY recommend this book and place it alongside Rachel Carson's masterpieces in must-read environmental/conservation/nature books.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author did a good job of giving a very visual story, but unfortunately, the story was just that, a story. She often repeated her examples, and she had a lot of filler that was unnecessary in my opinion. It wasn't my favorite book about global chaos (global "warming"), and I certainly won't read it again, but it does give a novice example of the author's local changes due to global chaos.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary Bookhounds VINE VOICE on April 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is really about the butterfly effect and how an action miles away can wreck havoc on your environment. The author does give some great personal insights as the actions of man cause many unintended things to happen locally and on a small level that are adding up to a grim reality. I wish some people who say global warming does not exist would read this personal account of how the weather is not "normal" anymore.
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