A hunt-and-peck collection of 30 pieces assembled to benefit Share Our Strength, a group dedicated to feeding the hungry. Shore (editor, Mysteries of Life and the Universe, 1992) has managed to gather a host of fine nature writers, but with mixed results. Al Gore's flimsy introduction leads with ""John Muir once wrote"" -- you can almost hear the snores rising off the page. But then there is Diane Ackerman's smart take on summer (""Summer""), with its bright and insightful appreciation of birds. The good and the not-so-good trade punches: Natalie Angier tries to get poetic as she recalls an urban childhood grappling with nature (""Natural Disasters""), but she is no Charles Simic, and the result is Kansas-flat and without humor. Then Edward Hoagland shines even as his eyesight dims (""Mind's Eyes""), and in his melancholy way he gathers a special sense of the land: learning to distinguish trees by the feel of their bark, finding walking ""such a puzzle as to be either exciting or tearful."" Ted Kerasote (""Logging"") takes the adage ""An unexamined life isn't worth living"" and beats it to death; here it is logging rather than hunting (see Bloodties, 1993) he picks apart, but, Ted, an overexamined life gets darned boring. Thankfully, Karen Pryor delivers an extraordinary throng of birds (""A Gathering of Birds"") of many different feathers which gathered on a bush next to which she sat and stared at her -- a bunch of birds out-humaning her, as it were. And so it goes. Half of the contributions are worth the trouble; .500 isn't a bad batting average, but it's not a great percentage when the quality of the authors is considered. Worth the price of admission all the same for the 15 crack nature essays gathered under one roof.