296 pages, colour photos
In Southern Sanctuary, retired NASA research scientist and writer Marian Moore Lewis takes readers on a journey of discovery through the Goldsmith-Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary, a 400-acre preserve in Madison County, Alabama. Writing in the voice of a knowledgeable friend and with accompanying colour photographs, Lewis introduces plants, animals, and other wildlife that reside in the preserved meadows, woods, and waterwaysulike those beloved throughout the American South. Lewis has organized this beautifully presented volume into twelve monthly chapters.
She starts her year in April after the crystalline frosts of winter have thawed. Already a bobcat has stamped a padded paw print in the lush spring muds as crossvine blossoms of magenta and lemon beckon winged pollinators nearby. Walk with her into the months of summer, when trees leaf out into a cathedral of habitats for birds, insects, and small mammals. In language naturalists of any age will enjoy, Lewis explains marvellous compound eyes, called ommatidia , of iridescent dragonflies and the homey carpentry of beavers damming a creek. As coloured reflections signal autumn, companionable songbirds migrate south while the last caterpillars of summer roll themselves into a leaf tent, or hibernaculum , to exist in diapause until next spring. In winter, Lewis admires nature at rest and rocks like chert, sought by Native Americans for arrowheads. Chert lies over bedrock of crenellated limestone, remnant of a time when an undersea Alabama reverberated with life preparing to emerge from the sea. Southern Sanctuary provides a rich compendium of useful features. Lewis uses both common and Latin names for the insects, plants and flowers, fungi, fish, reptiles, and mammals thus enriching knowledge of botany and zoology.
Her photos and descriptions make it easy for explorers of Southern Appalachian riparian habitats to use Southern Sanctuary to identify species of plants and animals near their own homes. Rounding out this astonishing work are handy guides to additional resources, taxonomy and measurements, rainfall, soil types, and native trees. Southern Sanctuary will be of value to educators and students, professional and amateur naturalists, hikers, birdwatchers, botanists, and ecologists. Infusing a wealth of useful information into an elegant design, it encourages an awareness of Alabama's rich biodiversity. Marian Moore LewisAEs Southern Sanctuary is a new classic in the best tradition of nature writing.
"On every page of Southern Sanctuary, I felt as if I were walking with the author through the preserve every month of the year, observing the plants and animals during the various seasons. The stories that are revealed throughout the book, the drama of everyday life at the Sanctuary, and the wonderful assemblage of photographs make it a work of lasting value. I would hope that naturalists throughout the country would, likewise, write about adventures in their favorite preserve."
– Robert H. Mohlenbrock, author of Where Have All the Wildflowers Gone? and "This Land" column for Natural History magazine
"North Alabama is located at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains, a well-known 'hot spot' for biodiversity that dates back to the ice ages, and it is host to a myriad of habitats, including hardwood forests, cedar glades, abundant waterways and wetlands, rich farmlands, mountains, and two-thirds of Alabama's 4,250 known caves. Marian Lewis's book on the flora and fauna of Goldsmith-Schiffman Preserve not only highlights some of these unique natural features of North Alabama in a factual way, but her outdoor journey through the seasons also encourages children, families, and adults to step outside and take a walk of discovery on their own."
– Hallie Porter, Land Trust of North Alabama
"This book will be a fundamental component of the 'Wetland Box' given to teachers each year and employed by approimately 1,500 students. Beautifully photographed, Southern Sanctuary transports the reader on a journey through the Preserve and inspires all to explore and revere this bountiful place."
– Jayne Russell, Earthscope Environmental Education Teacher, Huntsville City Schools
"Southern Sanctuary is engaging and informative. It's also fun to read. The author's writing voice is particularly invivting. She has managed to give the topics the gravitas of solid science without ever compromising her sense of excitement and wonder."
– Rusty Bynum, writer and playwright
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Marian Moore Lewis is a photographer, naturalist, and writer. A lifelong nature advocate, she was instrumental in establishing the Armand Bayou Nature Center near Houston, Texas, USA. She has received awards for fiction, nonfiction, and childrenAEs writing, and published over a hundred research papers in scientific journals. Her photographs have been included in the Sanctuary Artists: The Art of Nature exhibitions in venues throughout north and central Alabama, USA.