Who knew that an investigation into that patch of grass in our backyards could be so fruitful-and so funny? More than 550 square miles of new lawns unfold each year in the U.S. alone. Although new research shows that these lawns aren't nearly as "unnatural" as ecologists once thought, no one has offered… More »
Who knew that an investigation into that patch of grass in our backyards could be so fruitful-and so funny? More than 550 square miles of new lawns unfold each year in the U.S. alone. Although new research shows that these lawns aren't nearly as "unnatural" as ecologists once thought, no one has offered an accessible exploration of this novel habitat. Until now... Equipped with a lawn chair and her infectious curiosity, science writer Hannah Holmes spends a year on her lawn hoping to discover exactly what's going on out there. Under her examination, the lawn teems with life, populated by a bewilderment of birds, a mess of mammals, and a range of plants that record the history of this little piece of ground. As the seasons progress, she guides us through this bustling community, inviting over biologists, ecologists, botanists, entomologists, and energy experts to further unveil the complexities of life in the 'burbs. Through this investigation, we encounter life-and-death dramas and mysteries that would make a rainforest blush-everything from the behavior of suburban crows and raccoons, to the way plants wage war, to the puzzle of baby pigeons (where are they?). Funny, smart, and refreshing, Suburban Safari introduces us to a world so extraordinary it's hard to believe it's been right in front of us all along. Hannah Holmesis the author ofThe Secret Life of Dust. Her science and travel writing has appeared in publications including theNew York Times Magazine,Outside,Sierra, and theLos Angeles Times Magazine. She lives in South Portland, Maine. The lush green lawn is a long-standing symbol of success in America, but for the past few decades it has also gotten a bad rap. Criticized by ecologists as "sterile" and "unnatural," this lovingly cultivated swath has been recast as a homeowner's guilty pleasure. Yet as science writer Hannah Holmes reveals in this funny, smart, and refreshing investigation into that little patch of grass in our backyard, there's a whole circus of activity taking place right under our noses. Equipped with just a notebook and her infectious curiosity, Holmes spent a year on her lawn to discover exactly what's going on. And what discoveries she made: Holmes here describes a world teeming with charming and not so charming animals, from alarmist crows to cheeky chipmunks, graceful spiders to sinister earthworms. As she befriends some and runs from others-skunks, for example, prove to be the sort of neighbors best kept at arm's length-she also unearths fascinating and ferocious struggles in the plant world. While native and invasive species duke it out for dominance over this tiny piece of earth, they enact a chronicle of New World versus Old World, strikingly similar to the human history of America. As the seasons progress, Holmes calls in the experts, inviting over biologists, botanists, entomologists, ecologists, and energy specialists to guide us through this bustling community of plants and animals. With their help, and through Holmes's endlessly compelling investigation, we are introduced to miniature life-and-death dramas and given the answers to remarkable mysteries-everything from the eastward expansion of fearless cougars, to the sneaky way plants wage chemical warfare, to the secret hibernation of hummingbirds. Unpredictable, enlightening, and always entertaining,Suburban Safariwill charm anyone with a backyard-and make a nature lover out of even the most confirmed city dweller. "This is not just a very funny and very informative piece of writing, and not just a squirrel's horde of interesting information about the place you live. It's also a very important book-a graceful and forceful reminder that the natural world is everywhere all around us, to be savored and to be protected."-Bill McKi« Less
a year on the lawn
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