When I was a kid, between the ages of 8 and 14, I was a budding naturalist and literally could identify every tree, bird, reptile, mammal, and insect that I came across. I still have the Golden Nature Guides that I memorized. My two specialties were birds, which I watched and identified, and butterflies which I watched, chased down, caught in a net, and killed in a jar with a little formaldehyde in it. Then I mounted them, put name tags on them, and displayed them in school science fairs and in our house. Then one day my head cleared and I thought, I don’t kill birds with a pellet gun and then eviscerate and stuff them, so why am I killing beautiful insects? I immediately gave up that hobby, but not my admiration for the butterflies and moths. This new book, which Mary Jane gave me for Christmas, is the tale of a lost–and then found–unpublished manuscript and color plates of butterflies and moths by Titian Peale. Apparently critics are now saying the Peale is to butterflies as Audubon is to birds. Take a look at these swallowtails:
This is one heck of a coffee table book for nature lovers, and a great addition to my natural history library.