Compelling portrait of the not-so-lazy days of summer in an overlooked area of the Jersey shore.
In this second installment of his series exploring the seasons in different geographical zones of the United States, acclaimed nature writer and renowned birder Dunne (Prairie Spring: A Journey into a Heart of a Season, 2009, etc.) teams with his photographer wife Linda to capture the many wonders of land and sea surrounding their home in the vastly uncharted Delaware Bayshore region of New Jersey. With characteristic sass and occasional pointed commentary, the author captivatingly describes the many adventures he undertook from Memorial through Labor Day while experiencing firsthand the varied riches offered by his own neighborhood: birding with his wife; fishing and crabbing with local fisherman; chasing poachers with Cumberland County game wardens; picking tomatoes with undocumented workers; baling salt hay with native farmers; star- and comet-gazing by himself in the wee hours of an August morning. “One of my reasons for writing this book,” he writes, “was to try to portray and preserve something of the unique and dwindling heritage of this little-known region.” His focus on historical preservation and environmental conservation dominates the narrative, but the compact book also sports interesting trivia about the nation’s fifth-smallest state and humorous historical factoids. These range from the Supreme Court’s 1893 decision rendering the tomato a vegetable for taxation purposes, even though it is a “taxonomically certain berry,” to a chapter supporting the reasoning behind Dunne’s decision, made in July 1978, never to wear shorts again (the greenhead fly had a lot to do with it).
At once funny and moving—a provocative call for greater involvement with the natural world channeled through a riveting portrait of the author’s cherished home region.