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Buy This Field Guide Whether Heading Outside or Not

In a moment when I appreciate wide open spaces more than ever, these field guides are beautiful and rewarding.

We love this Field Guide series by Laura Silverman and Gilian Rappaport. Volume 1 is Summer, volume 2 is Spring — or, now. In a moment when I appreciate wide open spaces more than ever, these books are focusing my mind on the rewards of going outside.

The guides are intended to introduce you to the nature of the Hudson and Upper Delaware Valleys, but pick them up because they introduce you to nature, period. Plants, trees, fungi, birds, mammals, amphibians/reptiles, they are around you all the time, or at the very least a short drive away, or something you grew up around. Maybe you haven’t made eye contact with nature in a while; these will get you related in a wonderful way.  

My favorite qualities of the Field Guides: they are super informative and beautiful at the same time; their size (a folded 8.5×11 so it fits in your bag, or rests nicely on top of your coffee table books); the detail of the content (you can learn so much about a plant, from how to recognize it, to its culinary and medicinal uses).

A good field guide is like an introduction to someone who you see on a  regular basis, but who has never been introduced to you. As in our relationships with other people, recognizing them is only the first step toward what can become meaningful friendships. If we never introduce ourselves, we never know what could have been. 

I’m also enjoying the “voice” descriptions. The indigo painted finch: “Only the male sings the high pitched buzzy sweet-sweet chew-chew sweet-sweet to mark his territory.” The blue heron: “Several variations on a harsh squawk.”

We have a racoon that comes to visit our doorstep in the evenings, and we have an ongoing debate in our house: safe or not safe? The Field Guide sets us straight: though cute, “racoons harbor a roundworm in their dung that is potentially fatal to humans.” Not so safe. 

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So, in these days, when hugging a human stranger is not such a good idea, go outside. Only good can come of it. And perhaps some acquaintances. Take the Field Guide to Spring with you. 

The last word comes from master herbalist Richard Mandelbaum:

“A good field guide is like an introduction to someone who you see on a regular basis, but who has never been introduced to you. As in our relationships with other people, recognizing them is only the first step toward what can become meaningful friendships. If we never introduce ourselves, we never know what could have been.”

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Patricia Garcia-Gomez
Patricia Garcia-Gomez
Patricia Garcia-Gomez is a writer and artist working with visual media and sound. She is the editor of Travel by Ageist and a contributor to the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and The Private Journal (Europe). Her work is also part of the permanent archives of the Tate Modern, the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the Buhl Collection, and The Harwood Museum in New Mexico.

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