A naturalist of note, who died as this stupendous labor of love reached its completion, Collins brought together a treasury of nature writing compassing geographically North America from ocean to ocean, and tapping resources from some 87 writers, going back to the Plymouth Colony and up to the present. Naturalists are largely represented -- but other sources include diaries, letters, travel journals, even official reports. The material is arranged under the four seasons, and roughly within these sections follows a route of the opening up of the American land. One gets passages of sheer beauty, records of changes wrought by man as well as the seasons, climate and the forces of nature. Assaults on virgin soil, alterations in the balances of nature -- and the slow approach to preserving natural sanctuaries -- add up to a unique angle to conservation. The contributors range from Thoreau to E.B. White on Walden Pond; from Washington Irving on Season of Plenty on the Columbia and Rachel Carson on Migrants of the Spring Sea. From Marquette's discovery of the father of waters- and regret that the made no Indian converts, to William O. Douglas on Wilderness Beach; from John Winthrop on Prodigies of a Great Storm to Henry Beston on Winter Visitors -- and so on.