If you are a reader of this blog, and if you haven’t done so already, you must drop everything and get your hands on a copy of Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s CROW PLANET: ESSENTIAL WISDOM FROM THE URBAN WILDERNESS.

Nowhere else have I heard someone articulate so clearly and eloquently a vision of urban naturalism.  I am going to be reviewing this for The Englewood Review of Books this week, so you won’t get a full review here and now, BUT I will cross-post my review this weekend.

For now, however, here’s just a taste:

In the modern urban setting, the naturalist’s way suggests an antidote to the overinfluence of specialization upon our everyday lives.  Today we leave our health to doctors, our food to agribusiness, and our knowledge of the biological realm to information received from scientists.  Such specialization, writes author Michael Pollan, “obscures lines of connection — and responsibility.”  The foundational knowledge unearthed by modern naturalists is simultaneously freeing, consoling and revolutionary (47-48).

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My friend and frequent collaborator Brent Aldrich sent me this photo and story this evening.  Thanks, Brent!

The reason that squash seed packages recommend planting different varieties of squash 1/2 mile apart is because they “will cross-pollinate.” Of course, most of us [in urban places] don’t have the rolling acres of land where this is possible, so I never consider that as even a possibility. This year, a pumpkin plant has grown out of the compost pile (which tends to happen most every year), but with the summer squash I planted in the yard, they have created this mutant vegetable. Still don’t know what to call it: a Yellow Summer Pump-Squash? A Squash-kin?… The form of a pumpkin, but the texture of a crookneck squash; I can’t wait to see what it’s like inside.