This time around, veteran nature-writer Wallace (The Klamath Knot; The Turquoise Dragon) meanders through Bulow Hammock, a fertile subtropical woodland close by Daytona Beach, while ruminating with his usual grace on his favorite topics--ecology and evolution. Wallace first clapped eyes on the Hammock as a young boy, and was struck immediately by its smell, ""a perfumey sweetness"" that reminded him of ""hotel lobbies and cocktail lounges."" Returning as an adult, he finds much else to remark on--notably, the lush fauna of golden silk spiders, white ibis, ""timid, confiding"" alligators, armadillos, ticks, musk turtles, and giant stick insects that spray him with noxious liquid. His repeated forays bring him up against the Hammock's ""unyielding blankness""--the mystery at the heart of nature that forces him to see this wilderness in its own right, not as he expects it to be. The Hammock seduces his touch (he feels ""leprous"" from humidity, heat, and itchiness); it also sends his mind racing pleasantly over such disparate subjects as the role of dreams, forest phobia, the evolution of flowers, and the inherent wisdom of newborns--all raising many questions but no definitive answers. A charming, unfocused ramble.