A lively blend of memoir, natural history, and mindfulness practices, Zooburbia makes the case for being compassionate stewards—and students—of the wildlife with whom we coexist. With lessons on industriousness, perseverance, presence, exuberance, gratitude, aging, how to let go, and much more, each chapter shares the happy fact that none of us is alone—our teachers are right in front of us.
To be alienated from animals is to live a life that is not quite whole, contends nature writer Tai Moses. Urban and suburban residents share our environments with many types of wildlife: squirrels, birds, spiders, and increasingly lizards, deer, and coyote. Many of us crave more contact with wild creatures, and recognize the ways animals enrich our lives, yet don’t notice the animals already around us.
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A light, pleasing meditation on the joy of mindfully observing nature.—Kirkus Reviews
Throughout this collection of essays, Moses writes in an engaging style of prose, applying self-deprecating humor, righteous anger, or even Zen philosophy as the material requires. She describes nature and animals beautifully and simply. This is the memoir of a writer who has put real thought into how she relates to the natural world, and readers will find those thoughts worth considering. —Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Magazine
Meet your neighbors! Zooburbia serves as a fine introduction to some of the most interesting creatures you’re likely to encounter. —Bill McKibben, Eaarth and The End of Nature
I would buy this lovely book for the sentiments, for the illustrations, and for this sentence alone: ‘The mole is the most misunderstood of animals. Living alone in the gloom of darkness, unsociable and virtually sightless, the mole never gets a chance to set the record straight.’ —Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie About Love
In Zooburbia, Tai Moses writes with great power and imagination about an urban wildlife corridor where humans and animals overlap. This is a poetics of suburbia—of animals flying above us, sharing our houses, gardens and streets. Zooburbia will delight readers who love language and stay with them long after they’ve finished reading. There is something contagious about Moses’s joy and the mindful attention she brings to her encounters with animals. Zooburbia shows us that what we consider ordinary is actually an enchanted kingdom. —Thaisa Frank, Enchantment and Heidegger’s Glasses
While Zooburbia shares an extraordinary glimpse into the natural world, it even more brilliantly gives you insight into the human condition, and through the eyes, mind, and heart of one of the most thoughtful, passionate, and perceptive humans you will ever encounter. —Thom Hartmann, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight
With moving anecdotes and incisive knowledge Tai Moses uncovers the natural world within our urban landscape. What a relief for us city dwellers, to know that wilderness is all around, resilient and beautiful, if only we would peer a little closer. While these plants and animals cannot offer flour or hold the extra house key, Moses shows us with humor and pathos that they are among the best of our neighbors. After reading Zooburbia I see my back garden anew, as not just a place for me, but a haven and a home to insects, birds, raccoons and possums. This book is a delight. —Caroline Paul, Lost Cat
Wise, witty, compelling, and true, each of these closely-observed essays is a perfect gem! Thank you, Tai Moses, for showing us the blessings our animal teachers give us in wild abundance, right in our own backyards. —Sy Montgomery, The Good Good Pig and Journey of the Pink Dolphins
Zooburbia has the power to quietly change the way you see the world. On every page, Tai Moses offers readers a way to reinterpret the ordinary, revealing that the world we humans have built is an even stranger place than we imagined, yet she reminds us of the beauty that lies beneath our human bumbling. This is a strange and beautiful book—a book about animals that is really a book about being a person. —Robert Jensen, Arguing for Our Lives
Zooburbia is a loving encounter between an animal adventure story, a Buddhist scripture, and Winnie the Pooh that serves to remind us we are among sentient beings here on Earth. —Chellis Glendinning, My Name Is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization
My Green Mansions
We plan our lives according to a dream that comes to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans—Ben Okri
My chief preoccupation when I was a girl growing up in the heart of Los Angeles was to find a way to get out of the city and go live alone in the wilderness with wild animals and maybe a loyal dog. The air in LA was so polluted that we had smog-alert days when kids weren’t allowed to play outside. When I took a deep breath my eyes stung and my chest burned. During recess and lunchtime we had to stay in the classroom and put our heads down on our desks to rest. I still remember how soothing that laminated surface felt against my cheek, so cool when everything else was so hot.
I knew things weren’t supposed to be this way. Air was supposed to be pure and breathable. Skies should be clear and blue, not hazy and orange. Rivers weren’t supposed to be sheathed in concrete, their bends straightened and rapids muzzled. With a freeway on one side and railroad tracks on the other, the Los Angeles River was as eager to escape its concrete prison as I was to escape the city. Cattails, rushes, and reeds took root in the riverbed; tiny green frogs hopped up and down the algaed banks. In the rainy season, torrents of muddy water thundered down the channel, sweeping along shopping carts, tree trunks, tires, and sometimes even an unfortunate person.
I dreamed of woods, creeks, and mountains. I dreamed of wild animals and of wildness—wildness in the true sense of the word, untamed and free. At the public library, I haunted the nature section, checking out books that taught me the names of birds and mammals, flowers and trees. I memorized animal tracks and cloud formations. Certain words ignited fiery particles in my imagination: Prairie. Forest. Grizzly. Waterfall. Mustang. Eagle. Arroyo. I loved the very sound and shape of these words. I pored over my dog-eared copy of How To Stay Alive in the Woods. I even assembled my own moccasins with a kit I got from the Tandy leather factory.