Self-Portrait with Turtles: a Memoir by David M. Carroll

David Carroll likes to spend long stretches of time in ponds, wetlands, and forests. Turtles are his favorite but he is attentive to the other creatures and plants. He refers to his early nature learning as aboriginal, learning from submerging himself in the ponds he discovers and taking the time for patient observation. Though Carroll can, on occasion, be a little too taken with himself, his memoir is lyrical and lovely. His turtle explorations are mostly in the Northeast. School, home life, art instruction, wife, children, and teaching filter into the story but most is on the turtles and their surroundings.

I took a bike ride and walk from Gallup Park to Bandemer Park on the Border to Border Trail while I was reading this book. I felt more attentive because of the book. On a walk through Furstenberg Park, I saw two turtles swimming in the marsh, seven herons hunting fish, and two deer. Along the Huron River by Bandemer Park I saw two muskrats, a snake, and nineteen turtles sunning on logs.

David M. Carroll’s Swampwalker’s Journal was awarded the John Burroughs Medal, given annually to the author of a distinguished book of natural history.

Some recent winners are:

The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific by Julia Whitty
Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild by Ellen Meloy
The Singing Life of Birds: the Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong by Donald E. Kroodsma
Gathering Moss: a Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Liquid Land: a Journey Through the Florida Everglades by Ted Levin
Eye of the Albatross: Visions of Hope and Survival by Carl Safina
Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds by Bernd Henrich

A complete list is available on the John Burroughs Association website.