Landscape with Reptile: Rattlesnakes in an Urban World

Overview

In this marvelously original and authoritative book, Thomas Palmer introduces us to a community of rattlesnakes nestled in the heart of the urban Northeast, one of several such enclaves found near cities across the country. From this unusual springboard, Palmer plunges into an examination not only of Crotalus horridus, but of ecology, evolution, folklore, New England history, and American culture.
Just south of Boston, within view of the State House, a range of low, rugged hills...

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Overview

In this marvelously original and authoritative book, Thomas Palmer introduces us to a community of rattlesnakes nestled in the heart of the urban Northeast, one of several such enclaves found near cities across the country. From this unusual springboard, Palmer plunges into an examination not only of Crotalus horridus, but of ecology, evolution, folklore, New England history, and American culture.
Just south of Boston, within view of the State House, a range of low, rugged hills interrupts the suburbs. In these Blue Hills lives one of the last populations of timber rattlesnakes-easy enough to find if you know where, and how, to look. LANDSCAPE WITH REPTILE celebrates their survival with a kaleidoscopic journey through nature, literature, and history, a journey guided and informed by the snake's own serpentine passage through time. It includes a spirited defense of an outlaw species, a glance at the hazards of snakebite, an account of a multimillion-dollar development project halted by Crotalus, a travelogue, a collection of tall tales, and a meditation on the spectacle of life on earth. Like the best nature writers, Palmer lives and breathes with his landscape; but unlike most nature writers, Palmer finds his landscape is his own backyard.
Rarely has a book of natural history moved out in such original and unexpected ways from a focus so original and unexpected. A master craftsman, Thomas Palmer serves up a story with the authentic flavor of the woodlands it comes from, telling us everything we ever wanted to know about rattlesnakes-and much more we'd never dream to ask.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592280001
  • Publisher: Lyons Press, The
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

THOMAS PALMER is the author of two novels, The Transfer and Dream Science, as well as several species reports from local conservation land surveys. An enthusiastic amateur naturalist, he describes LANDSCAPE WITH REPTILE as the result of a childhood obsession he never outgrew. When not observing rattlers, teaching his practice of ecological preservation scales down any remaining hours in the day. He lives in Milton, Massachusetts, with his wife and their two children.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A brief look at our hero xi
1 Yankee from Atlantis: Crotalus weathers a cold snap 1
2 A Prospect: Local geography 4
3 Snake Heaven: Three ways to swallow a mouse 7
4 An Exemplary Victim: Hard times in the Bay Colony 12
5 Habeas Corpus: Why it's so difficult to get a good look at a rattlesnake 18
6 Black Arts: Rattlesnakes and Indians compared 25
7 Tree House: A modern history of the Blue Hills 31
8 Primitive War: Crotalus takes his first lumps 45
9 Joe Blow and Jake the Snake: The People vs. C. horridus 53
10 Why Calvin Grith Doesn't Live in the Woods: Several personal encounters 61
11 Family Matters: Prehistory and prehistorians 76
The Journey into the Underworld: On the origin of snakes
Eating One's Betters: A new, improved model
Becoming an American: Turn right at Siberia
The Belled Viper: Pin the tail on the rattlesnake
12 A Change of Heart: Massachusetts flirts with modernity 110
Incognito: Copperheads and Brahmins
Transmutation: A shock to the system
Elegy: Exit Crotalus
13 An Abominable Mystery: Tracking a murderer 153
14 The Country Doctor: Abel Puffer and the Strowbridge bite 164
15 First, Do No Harm: Antivenoms and amputees 183
16 A Worst-Case Scenario: Why it's a good idea not to get bitten by a rattlesnake 212
17 Four Bullets and an Ignoramus Crotalus: runs afoul of the law 230
18 Death Made Easy: The Quincy quarries 238
19 The Snake Fence: An incident from the postwar 259
20 Mother of Heroes: The rate-of-change blues 292
21 Midsummer Crotalus: after dark 306
Appendix Snakebite in the Blue Hills 313
Notes 315
Index 331
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