Not just another cute polar bear

For a heart-warming, environmentally concerned book, try Knut: How one little polar bear captivated the world, told by Isabella, Juliana, and Craig Hatkoff, and Gerald R. Uhlich, with photographs by Zoo Berlin. The story of how Knut is rejected by his mother bear and raised by a human is well told and touching, and I also liked the tie-in at the end with polar bears and global warming. This worthy book is from some of the same people who brought us Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship about a baby hippo and a giant tortoise. I love these books -- educational (not boring), touching (not saccharine) and nurturing (not overwhelming) for young hearts and minds.

Let's Be Careful Out There

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Fire Danger is very high across Michigan right now. So make sure your campfires at our wonderful state parks are completely extinguished before your last verse of Kumbaya is sung. Then you can settle down in the tent with the Nick Adams stories, this year's Great Michigan Read choice.

Rarely Seen are Now Readily Accessible

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This is not a zigzag bladderwort, it's a Blanchard's cricket frog, one of the more than 600 rare plants and animals featured in the new Michigan Rare Species Explorer. The curious of all ages can search by habitat, location, name, best time to view or browse the beautifully illustrated entries for all the species. Kudos to the team at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory for this wonderful new resource.

Gone hiking. Please leave a message...

Did you know there is a great hiking trail just west of Ann Arbor? It's the Waterloo-Pinkney Trail. My son and I hike the trail at least once a year. It's one of the trails featured in 50 Hikes in Michigan by Jim Dufresne. Get the book, plan your trip, and then head out for the trails before the bugs get too bad.

Gary Snyder

Today, May 8 is the birthday of poet, Gary Snyder who was born in San Francisco in 1930. When he was a student, he worked as a logger, a forest ranger and a seaman. All of these experiences informed his life as a poet, drawing on his closeness to nature, concern for the environment and a respect for the primal forces that affect humanity. He first started writing while working on a trail crew in Yosemite National Park. Snyder also spent eight years in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Japan where he developed his love for solitude and all it could teach him. His poetry is characterized by its spareness and contemplative quality and use of work, family and nature as metaphors for more universal themes. Here is one that examines the origins of poetry:

How Poetry Comes to Me

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays

Alabama Moon - for Gary Paulsen Fans!

Moon's father trusts no one - particularly the government. Moon and his father live in the forest in an extreme form of off the grid living. Moon has only known a life where they hunt, grow and forage for all of their food, make clothes out of animal hides and have contact with only the owner of a local general store. When Moon's father dies, Moon follows his father's last instructions: to travel to Alaska to find others like themselves. But Moon is soon caught and entangled in a world he doesn't know or understand, apparent property of the government he has been avoiding all his life. Moon encounters constables, jails, institutions, lawyers, true friends, and true enemies - and begins to wonder if his father's way of life is the one he wants to lead... An excellent debut by Watt Key.

Earth Day Festival at Matthaei

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Sunday, April 22, will be even more beautiful when you attend the Earth Day Celebration at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. From noon to 4 p.m. take in animal demonstrations, live entertainment, hands-on activities and of course miles of nature trails and outdoor gardens. Start your visit with a nature walk at 12:30 led by the Huron River Watershed Council, then head over to the All Species Parade at 2 p.m. Admission is FREE thanks to donations from area businesses, so take this opportunity to get acquainted with Matthaei.

Bring on the Bags

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Trowels ready, rakes set, gardeners go. City of Ann Arbor weekly curbside collection of residential yardwaste resumes, Monday April 2nd. Need some compost and mulch for your spring planting? The City's Municipal Compost Center is expanding hours to include Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon during gardening season.

Going to the Birds!

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Wednesday in the afternoon on my way to work I was held up for about 5 minutes in a small traffic jam created by two lovely swans that were taking a stroll along Scio Church road. Eventually someone from one of the cars gently herded the swans into the adjacent roadside ponds. It was a nice experience that from the expressions of the other drivers was universally enjoyed.

That particular corner is a great place to view birds and attracts a lot of photographers and bird watchers. It’s just east of Parker road at Scio Church road about 8 miles west of Ann Arbor.

In case you need some help identifying the birds you see there please check out the Ann Arbor District Library’s great collection of bird books.

Pet & Wildlife Photo Contest - WINNERS!

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Our first annual Pet & Wildlife Photo Contest was a huge success! Over 40 entries were received and winners were chosen in 4 categories: Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12. Visit the Downtown Youth Department anytime during the month of March to see ALL of the entries. This evening, March 12, was the award ceremony and every winner in each category was in attendance. First place got a $25 gift certificate to Borders and Honorable Mention got a a $10 gift certificate for Borders. Without further ado the winners are…

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