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Published: Saturday, June 9, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

New book pokes fun at ferries

I am acutely familiar with ferry lines, ferry waits, ferry overloads, ferry characters, ferry schedules, ferry design flaws, ferry mishaps, ferry rust, ferry breakdowns, ferry price hikes and ferry peccadilloes.
So this expert can testify that cartoonist Adrian Raeside has nailed the ferry system in "No Sailing Waits and Other Ferry Tales" ($10).
Raeside lampoons the B.C. Ferry system but, trust me, it could have been about Washington State Ferries, particularly in the San Juan Islands.
It's a great gift for ferry riders.
And what better way to pass the time than with a nature-related book as your ferry plows through the beautiful Salish Sea.
"What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World" ($22). Jon Young, founder of the Wilderness Awareness School, offers us the "bird language mode" in which a whole new world opens up.
Young has studied bird behavior and vocalizations for much of his life. He encourages readers to adopt the routine of invisibility, expand your area of awareness, and to watch, listen and interpret birds as many animals do.
This is an excellent beyond-the-identification approach that offers behavior choices for the reader in order to maximum the learning and pleasure in the field.
An audio section in the appendix focuses on multiple voices of common bird language, with a link to an online site that provides the audio.
"Young Birders Guide to Birds of North America" ($16). Kid-tested and kid-approved (Bill Thompson III's son and daughter and their elementary school classmates helped select the content), "Young Birders" is perfect for beginners of any age as well.
Thompson has left out the minutia and selected the most important starter information and complemented it with color photographs, black-and-white drawings and a map.
Each bird has a short paragraph each on what to look for, what to listen for, and what to remember, as well as a WOW! section with an interesting tidbit on matters besides identification.
"Wild Delicate Seconds: 29 Wildlife Encounters" ($17). Charles Finn turns brief encounters with wildlife into gems of simile without a wasted word and with grace and dignity.
After watching the commonplace great blue heron, Finn creates the uncommon: "A ballerina could not walk more delicately. A bomb disposal expert more carefully ... the pewter water reflects pewter sky and I watch how this flower-bird stalks, horror and beauty are at one in the dawn."
It's a little pricey for a slim paperback but, on the other hand, it's a price worth paying for priceless prose.
"Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America" ($29). Peterson guides have long moved into species other than birds, the latest being this guide to moths. I know, it says "Northeastern," but sometimes you can't wait for the version closer to home.
The 1,500 moths, some as beautiful as butterflies, shine in the color plates, species with such names as ghost, moss-eater, fairy, twirler, slug and leaf-blotch miner moths.
"Trees" ($8). Take this with you on your next outing and learn as you go. The four-color fold-out guide to 26 different trees is not only handy but gives specific identification information for each tree plus an interesting fact.
For instance, the yellow cedar (Alaska cedar) is the longest-living tree in the region, commonly reaching 1,000 to 5,000 years.
"Le Road Trip: A Traveler's Journal of Love and France" ($24). This is an absolutely delightful book whether you've been in, are going to or will never make it to France.
Even if you don't want to go to France, go along with author and illustrator Vivian Swift as she captures the spirit and visuals of her beloved France.
Swift avoids detailed lists of activities, places, restaurants and lodgings while embracing people, history, architecture and idiosyncrasies.
Her sketches are more warm and inviting than photographs could be on this particular journey.
Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.

Story tags » BooksOutdoor RecreationFerriesWildlife Watching

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