A Field Guide to the Natural World of the Twin Cities

Buy two copies of this book. One for yourself, the other a gift.

Wear it out. Mark pages, write notes (space provided), underline, fold back corners, stick a couple of book marks inside to save favorites.

Here is proof that you need not go beyond the boundaries of the metro area to find new and exciting natural places to visit, and fascinating to see.

Author John J. Moriarity has divided the book into landscape sections — prairie, savannah, Big Woods, Oak woods, wetlands and marshes and swamps, fens and bogs, lakes, rivers, urban and suburban. Examples of what you can find in each are given. It's an eclectic variety.

He finds special places everywhere, then sharp-focuses on the plants and animals to meet there. All are illustrated with excellent photographs taken by Siah St. Claire.

Moriarity is senior manager of wildlife for the Three Rivers Park District. The book's dust jacket describes him as a"genial expert on the remarkable diversity of plants and animals in the region's habitats." That's perfect.

St. Claire formerly was director of Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley for 35 years. His photos give tightly focused attention to all subjects.

This came to mind: the books highlights not only birds and reptiles and trees and flowers, but also worms and seeds and mussels and beetles.

I was particularly pleased to see shrews, mice, mudpuppies, begger ticks, and reed canary grass given their due.

This is not an all-inclusive guide. This book, with its fine maps, guides you to places where you can explore for what interests you, or what might catch your interest once you meet it. The selections highlight your visits, giving you and your curiosity a head start.

Here's a challenge — consider the book the list of a lifetime nature-based scavenger hunt.

Visit the woods and swamps and prairies. Find everything the authors have featured. (The prize will be self-evident once you begin the quest.)

Here's an opportunity to discover the wonders of places you might never seen even though they are short drives away. No site is more than 60 miles from downtown Minneapolis.

(University of Minnesota Press, durable binding, 412 pages, index, stuffed with excellent color photos, large, detailed maps by F&H Geograpics, $29.95 wherever interesting books are sold.)


7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, Barnes & Noble HarMar, 2100 Snelling Ave, St. Paul. Discussion and signing.

1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, Magers & Quinn Booksellers, 3038 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. Holiday signing only.

7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, Bell Museum of Natural History, 2088 Larpenteur Ave. W., St Paul. Discussion and signing.

7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 13, Common Good Books, 38 Snelling Ave. S., St Paul. Discussion and signing.