Winter is the season that most tests our mettle. There are the obvious challenges of the weather-freezing rain, wind chill, deep snow, dangerous ice-but also the psychological burdens of waiting for spring and the enduring often false starts that accompany its eventual return. On the surface, perhaps, winter might seem an odd season for a nature book, but there is plenty of beauty and life in the woods if only we know where to look. The stark, white landscape sparkles in the sunshine and glows beneath the moon on crisp, clear nights; the opening up of the forest makes it easy to see long distances; birds, some of which can be easily seen only in winter, flock to feeders; and animals-even those that should be hibernating-make surprise visits from time to time. Appalachian Winter offers acclaimed naturalist home on the westernmost ridge of the hill-and-valley landscape that dominates central Pennsylvania. Written in the style of a journal, each day's entry focuses on her walks and rambles through the woods and fields that she has known and loved for over thirty years. Along the way she discovers a long-eared owl in a dense stand of conifers, tracks a bear through an early December snowfall, explains the life and ecological niche of the red-backed vole, and examines the recent arrival of an Asian ladybug. These are but a few of the tidbits sprinkled throughout the book, interwoven with the human stories of Bonta's family, as well as the highway builders and shopping-mall developers that threaten the idyllic peacefulness of her mountain. natural history of the northern Appalachian Mountains: Her gentle, charming accounts of changing weather and of the struggles faced by plants, animals, and insects breathe new warmth into the coldest months of the year.
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