The Field Guide to Fields: Hidden Treasures of Meadows, Prairies, and Pastures

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National Geographic Books, 2010 - Nature - 223 pages
For millennia, fields in their myriad forms have been among the most fundamental elements of the landscape of human civilization. Illustrated with 300 photographs and handsome linocut-style prints, the book explains how different landscapes, climates, and cultures produced a variety of field types, from the terraced rice paddies of Southeast Asia to the impenetrable hedgerows of Northwest Europe, each reflecting both ancient traditions and agricultural progress. We see how Old World methods were adapted to new environments like the American prairie, the Australian outback, the African veldt, and the Argentinean pampas. We trace the development of the implements we’ve devised to work our fields, from hand tools to modern tractors and mechanical harvesters.

And as we learn to recognize various types of fields, we also explore their characteristic flora--wildflowers, grasses, and nourishing plants like grains, herbs, mushrooms, fruits and berries-- and fauna, from tiny but indispensable bugs to field-mice, sheep, cattle, and more. Detailed identification guides catalog a wealth of plant and animal life, and wide-ranging sidebars discuss everything from how to plow a field and sow seeds to how to plant a hedge, build a dry stone wall, and shear a sheep.

Here too the rich diversity of field folklore, from rural superstitions, fairy rings, and crop circles, to local legends, weather lore, folk remedies, and more. Both a thoughtful and colorful gift and a practical, informative reference, The Field Guide to Fields portrays an intriguing no-man’s-land between true, chaotic wilderness and the orderly arrangement of human communities.

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