I marvel at how little I accomplish in my life, relative to the amazing output of others. Nature writer Mary Holland seems to be a whole team of creative and scientific experts, not just one person. Her website, books, articles and professional photographs encompass a seemingly limitless encyclopedic exploration of nature, presented in short, easy-reading, wonderfully illustrated pieces. She creates educational tools for all ages, especially children. When she’s not doing any of that, she’s spreading knowledge and wisdom in speaking engagements. You can feel her passion for natural history in her work.
(Better disclosure: I benefit nothing but pleasure by promoting the nature writers I follow. I have no investment or business interest except as their customer, I get no freebies or incentives, and I have no family connection with them — that I know of!)
Mary Holland’s qualifications root her as a naturalist with specialization in education, plus leadership in environmental and natural sciences in public and private sector organizations. Did I mention she’s a skilled, accomplished writer and photographer?
Subscribe to her blog, Naturally Curious with Mary Holland; An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide.
“Online resource” it says, and resource is definitely the word for it. It’s like a nature wiki. Search the site for a quick path to information and images that hit the spot better than you’d expect.
It’s not just routine information, either. I was tickled to see a post by Mary telling me what the heck this is, something I have here at Balsamea every winter:
She explained it in her article, Red Squirrel Sign, in April 2017, and her picture is much better than mine. Currently, the Naturally Curious website has 20 articles on red, gray and flying squirrels.
That reminds me: at Balsamea we have many of the little red squirrels. I had never seen a gray one here (distinctly bigger), until a black one showed up a few days ago. Scampering away from the house, past the car and into the woods (making me nervous it may have taken up residence in my residence or car), a medium sized black squirrel grabbed my attention but didn’t do it early enough to let me get a picture. So my first gray squirrel was black. It is the same species, just an uncommon color deviation, and a first for Balsamea.
Another example of the interesting kinds of things you’ll find in the Naturally Curious blog is a report on the discovery of Black Bear Nests in American beech trees. We have countless beech in this area, so I’m on the lookout for such a “nest” (not really a nest, but made by a black bear; click the link to find out for yourself).
I had not tried it before, but just now I searched for “hawkweed” to see if Mary had something on one of my favorite photogenic wildflowers, the orange hawkweed. (Balsamea has loads of them.) Of course she did. And I learned quickly from her concise article a lot of things I’m glad to know. For instance, they attract tiger swallowtail butterflies, which tickled me because I have a photo of such a butterfly on such a hawkweed! I’ll do a post on that flower soon.
Mary has a knack for putting just the right information into her articles; the information she knows I’ll be glad to find. In other resources, I have to read a thousand words or comb through charts and links to other pages to find three sentences of interest to me.
She isn’t just telling us about nature. She’s sharing insights and diverse ways to see and to relate to nature, from the perspective of immersive experience.
If you love nature (or want to learn to), it’s the kind of blog where you can pop in any time and poke around for a while and always be glad for every minute you spent there. I would spend more time there if not for my being so ODD (Objective Distraction Disorder, a diagnosis I made up the other day in a moment of brighter than usual self awareness).
Naturally Curious: A Photographic Field Guide and Month-by-Month Journey through the Fields, Woods, and Marshes of New England is Mary Holland’s award-winning, bestselling book from Trafalgar Square Books of North Pomfret, Vermont. This book, first published in 2010, is now available in an updated edition, featuring over 100 new photographs.
Order it from Trafalgar Square. Currently they offer 35% discount off all additional items with purchase of one at normal price. Naturally Curious is normally $32.95. A second one would be $21.42, or get another item at 35% off.
In Mary’s words on the Naturally Curious website and blog:
I am a Vermont naturalist, photographer, columnist and author, and I have had an abiding passion for natural history all my life. I was born and raised in Massachusetts on a turkey farm. I attended the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources (Naturalist Curriculum) before working as a naturalist at The Museum of the Hudson Highlands in New York state; directing the state-wide Environmental Learning for the Future (ELF) program for the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS); working as a resource naturalist for the Massachusetts Audubon Society; designing and presenting my own hands-on “Knee-High Nature Programs” for libraries and elementary schools throughout Vermont and New Hampshire; and writing and photographing a nature column (also “Naturally Curious”) for several newspapers and magazines. My articles and/or photographs have appeared in The Valley News; Northern Woodlands; “The Outside Story”; Upper Valley Life; Here in Hanover; Woodstock magazine; The Harvard Press; The Vermont Guardian; and The Rutland Herald.
More from Mary Holland’s body of work (so far):
These award-winning children’s books contain features beyond stories and pictures, for pleasure and educational use (book cover images at the top of this post). They are available in hard cover, paperback and EBook, and in multiple languages.
- Yodel the Yearling [black bear]
- Otis the Owl
- Animal Noses
- Animal Tails
- Animal Legs
- Animal Mouths
- Animal Eyes
- Animal Ears
- The Beaver’s Busy Year
- Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer
- Milkweed Visitors
If you’re not sure you would use any of Mary Holland’s books, you can be sure that your local libraries and institutions would appreciate your donating them. It’s an easy way to give yourself a big warm fuzzy.
Immersion in the experience and knowledge of Nature is one of the most important things we can do to make this a better world, especially by making it a central part of a child’s life. There is enough science on it now to make it unquestionable that nature immersion makes smarter, healthier people; mentally, physically and socially.
Regular visitors here probably know that nature immersion has made a virtual superman out of me. Proof: I can leap tall puddles in a single bound. But that kid in me doesn’t mind if I fall short. Har-har-har.
Earlier posts in the Nature Writers I Follow Series:
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#334-666: Defeat Trump.
#667-1000: Remove Trump.
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