Kelby Ouchley, an author who also has a radio program on Louisiana Public Radio, has just come out with a masterful collection of essays on the natural history of Louisiana, entitled Bayou-Diversity (LSU Press). Even if you’re not from Bayou country, it is worth your attention as a work of literature. Nothing escapes Ouchley’s attention: ticks, lightning, stray cats, oil spills, sluggish water, snakebite myths and remedies, the origin of his great-grandmother’s rocking chair. At the heart is an acute understanding of Louisiana ecology–how it works and should work.
The essays are beautifully written: thermal wind currents are ‘bubbles of air that serve as elevators for raptors.’ In five paragraphs, Ouchley completely changed my understanding of teeth. I haven’t enjoyed or learned so much about the natural history of a place since I read Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. –Phillip Hoose