A delicate, selective, and deeply personal natural history of Long Island Sound. When Buckles (Mammals of the World, not reviewed) found herself transplanted to the Connecticut shore some ten years back, she wanted to get to know the environment beyond its problematic reputation as a sewage-laden, pathogenic wasteland, its bounty contaminated. To her the sound was not diseased (indeed, it appeared to be on the mend), but rather ""a place inherently sacred by virtue of being alive."" So she got down on her hands and knees at the water's edge, or pottered about in her little Boston Whaler, becoming intimate with the land- and waterscapes, knitting together the specialized habitats and communities that could be seen to flow into one another ""like watercolors left in the rain."" Here she details 14 investigations of things natural that identify the sound for her: its glacial origins and geologic history, its coves and estuaries and its avian abundance--bufflehead and old squaw, mergansers, cormorants, ospreys, and many more. She marvels at the return of the oak, hickory, and tulip poplar forests, and pokes about the islands: grand Gardiners, tiny Fish, tern-colonized Falkner. She dredges for oysters, then tips back the catch, and catalogs the curious menagerie that populates a dock. And there is an extended meditation on the unique salt-marsh landscape, with its spartina, fiddlers, and pipers. Buckles's writing is careful and graceful, and she has a facility for investing the mundane with significance (barnacles, for instance) and clarifying obscure biological processes (like the mating of horseshoe crabs). Buckles tunes in to the habits and rhythms of her home shore and lets them nurture her spirit. ""Long Island Sound has a beauty and a vitality that leave me dumbfounded with love. These writings are my love letters.