Recommended Environmental Readings

Recommended Environmental Readings

If you just want my book recommendations, skip to the end of the blog. If you want to know why I am recommending the books, then I guess you need to read the post!

My graduate course on Environmental History is almost over. It has been a whirlwind tour of the last several centuries worth of changes in how we, as Americans, perceive the wilderness and how we have managed it.  There has been a great deal of reading, accompanied by a paper each week. Starting with Thoreau and the transcendentalists, up through Muir and the Westward Expansion, including the formation of our National Park System, and forward to Aldo Leopold, the birth of the science of ecology and influence science has on helping us monitor our environment, it has been a large volume of information to digest, assimilate, summarize, and ponder. We ended our course readings with William Cronon’s twenty page 1996 essay on “The Trouble with Wilderness“. Cronon is an environmental historian with a dossier as long as a cross-country trek, hailing from the esteemed institutions of Yale and University of Wisconsin, Madison. If you have a chance to read this, or any of his other prolific works, I would highly recommend it. He is a gifted writer.  But, be ready for your head to spin!

Most, if not all, of this literature and these authors were new to me. Of course, I knew who these historical figures were, but not what they stood for or what inspired them to write some of the classic literature they delivered. Through all of them, I was able to form some connections to the way I feel about nature and the our wilderness today.  Given their time in history, one could at least partially understand why they undertook certain actions. Thoreau, being Emerson’s protege, was adept at his prose and conveying the connection some of us feel with our earth home. However, few of us could. or would want to, live in the wild for an extended period of time such as Thoreau did on Walden Pond.  It left an odd impression as I am sure it did for some of his countrymen at the time.

We probably owe our National Park System to John Muir, to a great extent.  He definitely fought for the early parklands and developed political connections, such as Theodore Roosevelt, to help his cause.  Certainly, the few National Parks I have visited including Haleakala Volcano, Rocky Mountain National Park, The Everglades, and The Badlands inspire awe – even if it had been during their most travelled and civilized state.  I can only imagine what Yellowstone or Yosemite looked like a century or two ago.  I am thankful there was someone to fight for the wilderness in the past.

I found myself connecting to Leopold, as  I read an excerpt from his classic, A Sand County Almanac, through his love of science, ecology, and botany. He was an original citizen scientist – collecting phenology data on plants near his shack in  a rural Wisconsin county near Baraboo, over many years. Believe it or not, his data is even still being used today to help determine the effects of climate change and global warming on plant adaptations such as an earlier bloom time. It made me feel like documenting my own observations on Monarch migration and spring arrival since 2006 is a worthwhile thing to continue to do.

We had only a slight exposure to Rachel Carson, author of the famous, Silent Spring, in the 1960’s.  I think we owe a debt of awareness and citizen action to her, even before being I am really cogniscent of what she wrote.

The course highlighted the social injustices that have occurred in America during acts of wilderness conservation and preservation. While not much as included from the views of the indigenous peoples, it is obvious they were unjustly treated by many, including our government.

So, while the course is over, I am left with a whole list of books want to read. I thought I would share this list with you.

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (1949)

Gloryland by Shelton Johnson (2010)

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)

American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (2008)  an anthology edited by Bill McKibben

Happy Reading! I hope one or more of these inspired writers inspires you to take care of our Wilderness – even if it is right in your own backyard! (Read Cronon’s essay, too!)

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A Singular Haiku

A Singular Haiku

Not much in me today. A singular haiku is all I can post. Reevaluating myself.


Frost Haiku

White covering grass

Stiff, still, silent frost comes in

Overnight to morn

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Temporary

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Temporary

Yesterday, we saw a bald eagle feasting on a carcass in the coulee (valley with only one way in or out). Although he stayed most of the afternoon, we knew his visit was temporary. It had been two years since we noticed any bald eagles near the dry creek bed adjacent to our home.  It was a temporary visit, brought forth I am sure by the eagle spying the dead animal on the ground.  In the same vein, the animal’s body he was feasting on had succumbed to a temporary life – just as we all do.

Bald eagles are majestic, as so many of my Facebook friends have said. Fortunately, their fate has become more enduring than temporary, as they faced extinction during the earlier years of my life. My husband and I commented on how we would never have expected to have a bald eagle literally fly through our back yard when we were growing up in New York State.

Much of my afternoon was spent watching and photographing this beautiful bird, the symbol of our country.  It was a temporary interruption to my planned schedule for the day. But, one well worth it. Enjoy some shots of my Temporary Visitor, the Bald Eagle.







Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek

Here are my submissions for this week’s Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek.

If you hover over the photo, the caption will come up and will give you some information about how I interpreted the word peek for each of my photos! Enjoy!

IMG_9232via Photo Challenge: Peek

A “peek” into the geocache box found on an island near our lake cabin.
George is always watching over us. And Lincoln “peeks” through the trees.                                         © Carol Labuzzetta, 2010
“Peeking” in Custer State Park, South Dakota, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2010.
The sun “peeks” over the clouds on Christmas Day, 2015, atop Haleakala Volcano, Maui.                   © Carol Labuzzetta, 2015
A peek out the window of the Washington Monument yields this view. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2015
Hoo, Hoo, Hoo Hoo Hoo…….

Hoo, Hoo, Hoo Hoo Hoo…….

This morning, I woke to this sound coming faintly from outside our bedroom window at 4 a.m.  It made me smile. Our resident Great Horned Owl was back in the coulee, probably looking for a meal. The wide, dry creek bed adjacent to our property was occupied by grazing cows up until this time last year. There are a few downed trees, as well as two, less than healthy looking, oaks still standing.  I am assuming any of the tree branches, now loosing their leaves, would make excellent perches for the owl.

Over the years, after moving to the midwest, I have been able to listen to different sounds in the early morning. First, I listened to a train whistle, far off in the distance, being blown as the engine and cars approach one of the many small towns next to the Mississippi. It was always a comforting sound.  Then, the first shots of duck hunting season, being heard from the marshes and fields, before those were replaced by houses, and the people within.  The gun shots were not welcome sounds, as we do not have hunters in our family. Still, they marked the time of year, for many years to come.

We have lived in a house now for ten years that backs up to a valley and a dried up creek bed. The owl’s sounds, once he returns, are always welcome by me. It tells me that there is still nature outside my window. The cycle of life, continuing for bird and prey, the hunter on his perch, looking for a meal.  Nothing is as natural as that. So, when I hear the Hoo-hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo in the early morning before it is light, I smile.  I just wish I could get a glimpse of him someday.  PC: Pixabay, No Attribution Required.

If you would like more information about owls and their sounds, check out these websites:

Cornell – All about – Owls

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Great Horned Owl

Journey North – Listen to Owls: Audio Clips

This post is part of a community of writer’s encouraged by the TwoWritingTeacher’s  Blog and Slice of Life Tuesdays.


Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Scale

Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Scale

For my scale photo challenge submissions, you will find how large bamboo can be, as compared to humans (Kauai, 2013).


2) How small chairs in an outdoor cafe in Den Haag look compared to trees and skyscrapers. (The Netherlands, 2016).


3) Bricks, people, new skyscrapers, streetlights, and centuries old Trinity Church in New York City (NYC, 2013).


4) The tiniest of monarch caterpillars _ there are four – on huge leaves, next to my fingers.  (Summer, 2017). And, next to a dime (Summer, 2017).

threelarvaetiny2017two very early larva 2017

5) Kiragami Graduated Pinwheel set. (2012).


6) The same lighthouse near and far on a North Sea Beach in The Netherlands. (2016). This shows how proximity influences scale.

7) Humankind and our structures are small, in the grand scheme of things.                (Summer, 2017).


8) Proximity of Gibbs Hill Lighthouse on Bermuda influencing scale. (August, 2017).

8) Big river, small river. Big Barge, small barge. It all depends on how you look at it.  (Effigy Mounds National Monument overlooking the Mississippi River, 2016).


This scale and how I see it.  Inspired by the Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Scale.

All photographs are copyright protected by Carol Labuzzetta, with all rights reserved and no permission to reproduce. Thank you.

Silent Sunday: Buddleia, Painted Ladies, and Dahlias, Oh My!

Silent Sunday: Buddleia, Painted Ladies, and Dahlias, Oh My!