Irreverent Musings on Nature

Print cover frontHere’s a new review of The Absurd Naturalist, posted on Amazon by writer, editor, and reviewer Don Martin. Like all authors, I enjoy reading reviews (especially good ones), but this one is particularly entertaining in the way it creatively weaves together some of my essays in a playful, irreverent tone befitting the essays. Thanks, Don!

on August 16, 2015
This handsome volume contains 43 essays tangentially related to the subject of naturalism, or if you prefer, the avocation of being a naturalist. I use the term ‘tangentially’ very loosely here, because I am just not so sure. Maybe if you stretched it a bit, but that would be fine because the stories are quite good.Where else might you read about the evolution of the toaster oven, and which naturally-selected physical traits you should look for when considering a replacement model? Or, have you recently considered the question of same-species marriage? No matter where you come down on the issue I think we’d all agree that procreation should be limited to an intra-species affair. When you start to cross-breed, say, people and cats, or maybe dolphins and polar bears, you can never really be sure what you’ll get. And the author treats us to what he claims is the first X-rated naturalist essay, which would be an oddity indeed! Unfortunately he strays badly afield and we never really get to the juicy good parts.Perhaps you may be considering becoming a naturalist yourself. Why you would ever want to do that I just don’t know, but no worries! Contained herein are two companion essays, ‘The Well-Dressed Naturalist’ and ‘The Well-Equipped Naturalist.’ Careful study of those chapters will allow you to at least pretend to be a naturalist, and do a convincing job of it, even though you probably have no formal training in the science and have certainly never studied it.And, of course, you’ll need to know how to keep javelinas out of your garden, which you can never actually do, so the best bet there is just to peacefully coexist with them. Which is not the recommended approach when it comes to packrats. Packrats mean an all-out war, man on rat, to the death! You will not win that one either. After considering the various animal species you will certainly, as a pseudo-naturalist, want to move on to the world of plants. And you’ll certainly need some legal advice on how to file wrongful-death lawsuits on behalf of your dearly departed zinnias. You know those ones. The ones who looked perfectly green and healthy at the nursery, but which suddenly expired of some mysterious ailment as soon as you bought them, brought them home, and lovingly planted them in your garden?

This book sits right on the line between humor and satire, and it sits there very well indeed. Good satire is becoming a lost art, and it’s refreshing to see someone who knows his way around it. I guarantee you that you’ll at least smile as you read these short essays, and I’d be willing to bet you’ll even catch yourself laughing out loud at times. They really are that good! The Absurd Naturalist is quite entertaining, and is very highly recommended.         Buy a copy here: Amazon

New Review of The Absurd Naturalist

Check out this new review of my latest book “The Absurd Naturalist.” Available at Amazon…/…/1502977281
A Fun ReadPrint cover front
By Niche on March 2, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Gene has a naturalist’s focus and curiosity – he combines his observations in nature with wry twists on the wide variety of topics his essays cover. Open this book, pick an essay, and you will find yourself smiling as well as gleaning some insights into the natural world in the process.

Have an Environmentalist for Lunch

I had been invited to lunch with a group of fellow enviros at a posh downtown restaurant.  The atmosphere at least started out casual and friendly.  There was no indication from the topics discussed—the usual banter on overpopulation, global warming, resource depletion and mass extinctions—that things might get ugly.

As I recall, it was about the time we started ordering from the menu that the group’s good mood began to subtly change.

“Let’s see … you know, I haven’t had a good steak in a long time,” said the Sierra Club member at the end of the table.  “I’ll have the eight-ounce sirloin.”

“Surely you jest!” I blurted in spite of myself.  “You could serve up to fifty people each a cup of cooked cereal from the feed cost of your eight-ouncer.  It’s right here on page 14 of Diet for a Small Planet.”

“I guess you’re right,” he muttered.  “I’ll just have a hamburger.”  Then he turned and whispered something to the Earth First person on his left.  I’m not sure but I think it was: “Who invited this guy?”

Unfazed by his rudeness, I tried as best I could to hold up my end of the conversation. If you really believe that more of Central and South America’s precious rain forests should be converted to rangeland just so you can buy a cheap hamburger, go ahead—enjoy.  Just remember that with every bite there will be less diversity of fauna and flora on this planet.”

I never did get to hear what the Sierra beefeater said.  I was much too busy listening to what the Greenpeacer next to me was ordering.

“Waiter, I’ll have the swordfish.  It’s not often you find grilled swordfish at this price.”

“If we keep on over-fishing the oceans, pretty soon you won’t be able to find swordfish at any price,” I scolded, pointing my breadstick at him.  “With the world fish catch already estimated to be at or beyond its maximum sustainable level, and with world population still increasing, the per capita fish catch is actually going down.  And, meanwhile, the number of commercially extinct species of fish continues to grow.”

Parrying my breadstick with his own, the Greenpeacer tried to shut me up and take the higher moral ground with a quick switch to fettuccini, but it was too late.

“And what about biological magnification?” I continued in high spirits, trying to remember the last time I had so thoroughly enjoyed a conversation.  “You know as well as I do how dangerous pollutants like mercury can become increasingly concentrated as they are passed through higher levels of the ocean food chain to predatory fish such as tuna and swordfish.  Have you had your daily dose of mercury today?”

“I’ll just have an omelet,” said the Audubon woman to my right.  Then she slowly turned toward me and asked with totally uncalled for sarcasm, “I presume eggs are all right?”

“Hey, it’s all right with me,” I said, “… if you want to squander energy.  Kilogram for kilogram, it takes almost twelve times as much energy to produce eggs as it does to produce soybeans.  Not to mention, of course, the ethical dimensions of keeping all those poor birds locked up in tiny cages.”

“Oh, for Pete’s sake—let’s just all go have the salad bar,” growled the Sierra Club member.  “I’m so hungry I could eat a … oops, sorry.  Wild horses must be on your list, too.”  He glared at me in a way that only a man deprived of his steak could glare.  In fact, the whole group was now glaring at me and seemed strangely poised for my next reply.

“Well, what are you all waiting for?” I asked.  “I’m sure the salad bar is just great.  I wonder, though … do you know if it is organic produce?  One cannot be too cautious, these days, what with pesticide residues and …”

It was precisely at this point that my formerly friendly associates all grabbed their knives and forks and began advancing toward me in menacing fashion.  Leaving behind my precious underlined copy of Diet for a Small Planet, I made a hasty, somewhat undignified retreat through the back door of the restaurant.

All I can say is, Barry Commoner was right.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.                                © Gene Twaronite 2012