With wonder and a sense of humour, Nature Obscura author Kelly Brenner aims to help us rediscover our connection to the natural world that is just outside our front door – we just need to know where to look.
Through explorations of a rich and varied urban landscape, Brenner reveals the complex micro-habitats and surprising nature found in the middle of a city. In her hometown of Seattle, which has plowed down hills, cut through the land to connect fresh- and saltwater, and paved over much of the rest, she exposes a diverse range of strange and unknown creatures. From shore to wetland, forest to neighbourhood park, and graveyard to backyard, Brenner uncovers how our land alterations have impacted nature, for good and bad, through the wildlife and plants that live alongside us, often unseen. These stories meld together, in the same way our ecosystems, species, and human history are interconnected across the urban environment.
Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has explored much of the region while investigating the local flora and fauna. After earning a degree in landscape architecture in 2009, Kelly founded The Metropolitan Field Guide and continues to write on her website about urban nature, books, poetry, folklore, and a variety of other natural history topics. She has been published in Crosscut, National Wildlife Magazine and The Open Notebook, among others. She is active on Twitter where she shares nature observations and photos and hosts regular science games.
"Nature Obscura reveals the living city through delightful encounters with natural neighbors we all ought to know. An attentive, fun, and thoroughly engaging guide, Kelly Brenner will help you become a better naturalist every day."
– Robert Michael Pyle
"Gorgeously written and deeply felt, with rigorous research and information at its core."
– Jeff VanderMeer, author of Dead Astronauts
"A warm-hearted meditation on the natural wonders that we city dwellers overlook every day, such as the western pondhawk (a dragonfly), licorice ferns, and the charming Anna's hummingbird, her heart beating 1,250 times a minute – and the perhaps less charming ant-decapitating fly and, yes, Fuligo septima, a.k.a., dog-vomit slime mold [...]" Once you read this book you'll step more carefully, to avoid damaging the myriad tiny worlds that add color and texture to our world"
– Erik Larson
"With observant eyes and beautiful prose, Kelly Brenner draws us all into the hidden depths of the urban wilderness. Hummingbirds, dragonflies, ferns, and even slime molds come to vibrant life alongside stories of the humans who keep watch over the nature that surrounds us. Nature Obscura inspires everyday wonder, adventure, and wisdom about our changing earth."
– Lyanda Lynn Haupt