This Week In Booklists

Significant Dates for the Week of September 18-24

On Wednesday September 21st put on your best tie-dye for International Peace Day!

On Friday September 23rd be ready for a twofer because it is both:
Native American Day- Get ready by reading up on Native American history and lore.
And
The Autumnal Equinox- Celebrate that Fall is finally here with some fun reads on the season and its most important harvest.

Hooray for fall!!

If you're like me, you can't wait for the Autumnal Equinox on September 23rd to roll around so you can officially say It's Fall! for those that are excited for the cooler weather and changing colors, check out the Michigan.org website for information about the changing colors and where and when to go to get the best view. Also be sure to check our catalog for books about fall/autumn in the aadl.org catalog!

Traverwood / Stapp Invasives Removal

Thursday, September 15 | 6:00-7:30 PM | Traverwood | Grade 6-Adult

Wear your outdoor work duds/gloves and with the help of Ann Arbor’s Natural Area Preservation (NAP) staff, identify and pull invasive plants on the grounds of Traverwood or nearby Stapp Nature Area. Meet just outside the front door of the Traverwood Branch.

Birds of North America Online ~ New Ways to Birdwatch @ AADL

A project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birds of North America Online includes contributions from researchers, citizen scientists, reviewers and editors and image and video galleries showing plumages, behaviors, habitat, nests and eggs, and more. BNA now features recordings of the songs and calls of their species from the extensive collection of Cornell's Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds.

You can access BNA Online 24-hours a day from home through our Database Page. I like putting in keyword terms like "black billed" or "blue throated" and seeing the results. Amazing what great background music bird calls provide to a day indoors.

Chasing the Taiga's Tale

I just finished The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, an Orion Book Award finalist about the hunt for a man-eating tiger in remote eastern Siberia in 1997. On one level, it's your basic hair-raising thriller about a rogue beast and the brave and frightened men who track it. There's plenty of grisly forensic evidence, a few spine-chilling moments, and on more than one occasion the hunter becomes the hunted. Along with the trackers, the reader is drawn into the physical and psychological realm of this near-mythic and elusive creature whose calculating intelligence and patience allows it to outmaneuver its captors while remaining virtually invisible in the forest.

But it's the forest itself, the tiger's domain, the strange land of the Siberian taiga and the people who live there, that elevates this story from man vs. beast to an intimate exploration of the natural world and its relationship with contemporary culture. By drawing attention to their interdependence, author John Vaillant renders the setting every bit as compelling a character; the tiger and taiga are indivisible. The land defies conventional description, so he dubs it a "boreal jungle" to evoke its exotic mix of flora and fauna. It's the sort of ragged wilderland you might expect to wander through in Middle Earth, but instead of elvish villages it's dotted with hunting shacks and charmless Soviet-era outposts, an aesthetic of metal boxes at odds with nature where villagers are laid low by poverty and the lawlessness wrought by perestroika. And the occasional man-eating tiger.

Capturing the strange beauty of this region has been a goal of some of our greatest filmmakers. Werner Herzog, always on the hunt for the strange and beautiful, recently teamed up for a documentary about the hunters of the taiga titled, of all things, Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, which I hope to see on DVD soon. Further back, in 1975, Akira Kurosawa brought this haunting landscape to life in one of my all-time favorite films, Dersu Uzala, which was adapted from the writings of the well-known Soviet explorer, Vladimir Arseniev, about his friendship with the trapper he hires to accompany him.

In 2014, The Tiger (and the taiga) will come to the big screen again, with no less than Darren Aronofsky at the helm and a screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga, who also wrote Amores Perros and Babel. The lead tracker will be played by Brad Pitt, whose film choices have gotten more and more interesting lately. His is not the sort of face you expect to find in the Siberian wilderness, but then I felt the same way about Robert Redford in Jeremiah Johnson and got over it fast.

Until then, your can discover more about the taiga and its tigers in Peter Matthiessen's Tigers in the Snow and National Geographic's Tigers of the Snow.

Take a hike @ Furstenberg Nature Area

Thursday, August 18 | 7:00-8:30 PM | All Ages

Join us for a nature walk through Furstenberg Nature Area with the City of Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation staff. We’ll walk through prairie and woodlands viewing native plants and trees, and learning about the ecological restoration going on at this site. Mosquitos are likely to be abundant so bring along some protection.

Park in the lot off Fuller Road (across from Huron High School). We’ll meet near the restrooms.

Best Nature Writing

Orion magazine honors each year the very best in writing about nature and its relationship with art and culture. The Orion Book Award is given to one winner and four finalists – this year we own all five books. The winners are chosen for their fresh and timely presentation of cutting-edge science blended with an intimate and adventurous understanding of the natural world. The winner this year is, Insectopedia, by Hugh Raffles, and the four finalists:
About a Mountain by John D'Agata
Deep Blue Home: An Intinate Ecology of Our Wild Ocean by Julia Whittly
The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant
Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram

Here you can find an archive of past winners and a list of other notable books that the awards committee especially liked in 2010. We carry Orion magazine on the 2nd floor Downtown. It always offers a thoughtful and provocative critique of our modern relationship to the natural world and a profound commitment to exploring ways to preserve the future of nature which is, after all, our future too.

Traverwood / Stapp Invasives Removal

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Thursday, July 21 | 7:00-8:30 PM | Traverwood | Grade 6-Adult

Wear your outdoor work duds and with the help of Ann Arbor’s Natural Area Preservation (NAP) staff, identify and pull invasive plants on the grounds of Traverwood or nearby Stapp Nature Area. Meet just outside the front door of the Traverwood Branch.

What are invasives? These are plants that do not naturally occur in southeast Michigan woodlands, wetlands, and prairies. Invasive plants DO NOT provide the food and habitat needed by our native animals.

Teens, this is a VOLUNTEER opportunity. Just complete NAP’s Volunteer Form and bring it along with you to the event.

BONUS - For lending a hand at this event you can earn maximum points to add to your AADL SUMMER GAME totals! Just ask for the game code.

Outdoor Survival Training 101 With Bivouac

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Malletts Creek Branch: Program Room AB

Ever wondered what to do during emergency situations while camping, hiking and exploring out in nature?

Outdoor experts from Ann Arbor's Bivouac Outdoor Clothing and Gear store will give you the basic survival tips and tricks to keep yourself alive if stranded - rain, snow or shine. They'll also talk about extreme survival tips for the most dangerous scenarios.

Be sure to attend and be prepared for your next wilderness adventure!

Running Inspiration at Western States 100

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This weekend, several hundred lucky ultrarunners toed the starting line at the Western States 100 mile trail run, one of four Grand Slam 100-mile events, the others being Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run, Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run, and Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run.

According to the Western States website, "the run is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 100 miles. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn. Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters."

Ellie Greenwood, a dominant ultrarunner competing in her first 100 mile race, overcame early hamstring tightness as well as a twenty-minute deficit with 22 miles to go when she surged into first place at mile 95, en route to a victory that set the second fastest women's Western States time ever. Spaniard Kilian Jornet won for the men, setting the third-fastest men's time in course history. Simply amazing.

Looking for more distance running inspiration? Check out AADL's collection of run training books, as well as the trail running specific books, Runner's World Complete Guide to Trail Running and The Outdoor Athlete.

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