This book offers the reader a delightful collection of first-hand, wildlife encounters. Nancy Rivest Green has lived in the lap of wilderness for years and has traveled to fascinating places where wildlife was the main attraction. Add wonderful, descriptive writing to such settings and experiences and suddenly you find yourself right in the middle of humorous, and sometimes frightening, encounters with a diverse array of creatures.
Each story of a personal encounter is followed by facts about that particular animal, which makes the book both fun and educational. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience; and I now have a strong urge to book a trip to some exotic place where animals abound. Treat yourself to a good read.
– Bonny R. Carney, PhD, author of “Living Large in the Land of the Incas” and “Honking Your Way toward Enlightenment” (in press)
With a lifetime of experience and a knack for keenly observing the natural world, Nancy Green brings readers on a smooth, idyllic journey in her second book, Dragonfly. Being in part a zoological resource, part personal memoir, and every bit a good piece of nature writing, Green merges descriptions of her personal encounters with the Southwest’s iconic wildlife with curious and informative particulars gleaned from numerous scientific accounts. All of it is set upon the compelling landscape that Green inhabits with her retired Park Ranger husband in the scented pine forests, the semi-arid deserts, and deep canyons of northern Arizona. The combination is too good to miss.
I’ve lived here most of my life and thought I knew something about the curious creatures who long ago adapted to the “Sierra Sinagua,” the land without water. But who knew that elk can jump 8 to 10 feet while standing next to a fence, or that condors use urohydration as a self-cooling system? Thanks goodness for Dragonfly, with its 24 chapters each highlighting a different animal, first with a personal recollection of an experience associated with that animal, and a second verse in the chapter that fleshes out the most pertinent and interesting details about them all. I liked this organization since it wasn’t gooey, drippy prose nor was it a bland or technical recitation of gestation periods or life expectancy.
Like the day she watched two elk playing “tag” on the playground at the Grand Canyon School: “I looked outside one day to see 2 gangly young elk chasing each other around the swing set. One raced madly in one direction, the other in pursuit. Abruptly, the lead elk turned around, lowering his antlers. The second elk now became the leader, racing to catch the rear end of the first elk. They continued this game for about 20 minutes, when I realized it was nearly time for recess. I had to call the office. “Better tell maintenance to clear the playground before the children emerge.” I wonder if that was listed on the maintenance workers’ job description – “chase elk off playground when necessary.”
How many teachers or kids do you know who could look out their classroom widows within a National Park and see elk frolic in the schoolyard playground beneath old growth pines? Not many I’ll guess and that is what makes this relatively short read such a good one as well. For sure, it takes talent to write like this but even more, it takes a sharp eye and awareness – to be in the moment – to record and capture the scene for some later time when fingers hit the keyboard and pound out a heartfelt and accurate recreation of what was seen.
Green does not limit herself to the ringtail cats, mountain lions and coyotes of the Southwest but also takes us on a journey’s to South America where we learn about alpaca’s, Alaska’s humpback whales, and sea turtles in Hawaii. Since their retirement, the Greens have now visited many far-flung localities, including Antarctica.
I can imagine people from teenagers to retired folks finding something of interest in this book. For in the end, it is not where we’ve been or how many countries we’ve visited, but rather what we see, what we learn, and what we feel about it all that matters most. Nancy Green has seen a lot and learned a lot but more than that, she looks deeply into the critters that pass before her so that we can know something about them as well.
– Wayne Ranney, Geologic Educator, Author, Lecturer http://www.wayneranney.com/