Pieces of Light by Susan J. Tweit

As I’ve written before, urban nature forces us to zoom in, to look at nature on a smaller scale. Nature in the city usually exists in patches and pockets, without the grand vistas of a wilderness area. A number of the writers I’ve read and discussed so far in this series exemplify this close, attentive perspective. Perhaps none more so than Leonard Dubkin, who literally sticks his face into his lawn to watch the life of the insects and creatures hidden away there. Yet unlike those other books Tweit’s book is a book of grand scales. It is a book, as the title suggests, of light, but also of air and wind, rain, snow and thunder, it is a book of mountains and great plains, of forests and rivers. It is also about the passage of time, both on a geological scale and on the scale of a single human life.

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Top survival tips for urban nature

Steven D. Garber’s The Urban Naturalist provides an introduction to nature in the urban environment, with chapters on grasses, trees, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Although it was published in 1987, I think Garber’s book has much to teach any species thinking about moving to the city.  So, inspired by The Urban Naturalist, here’s the top 5 survival tips for would-be urbanites.

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Hunting Big Game in the City Parks by Howard G. Smith

This wonderfully titled book is a field guide to hunting for insects in the urban environment. Each chapter focuses on two or three species and the chapters have equally wonderful titles: The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the Flower Garden, Ruthless Bandit Kings and Hungry Tigers, Man-Eating Kangeroos and Music-Playing Warriors. With a keen sense of curiosity and wonder and a lot of patience Smith explores urban parks, swamps and his own back garden to uncover the often hidden and rarely seen lives of wasps, bees, ants, grasshoppers and beetles, amongst others. His adventures are beautifully illustrated by Anne Marie Jauss.

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