Book Notes: Hartland Naturalist Compiles Regular Blog Posts for New Book

  • Mary Holland sits in the woods behind her home in Hartland, Vt., with her dog, Emma, on Nov. 2, 2016. (Valley News- Sarah Priestap) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — Sarah Priestap

  • Essayist Michael Caduto will read and discuss a new collection of essays at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 at Norman Williams Library in Woodstock. Courtesy photograph — Greg Nesbit

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/3/2016 11:58:29 PM
Modified: 11/4/2016 2:57:27 PM

If a bingeing bear, um, deposits a heaping helping of digested corn in the woods and Mary Holland finds it, you can count on her to take a picture and post it in all its bright-yellow glory with observations, and with no reservations, on her Naturally Curious blog.

And the Hartland-based naturalist sees just one drawback to such instant gratification.

“Now it just kills me!” Holland said on Monday. “I’ll find something, and it’s just great, but it’s too late for Naturally Curious Day by Day.”

That would be the book that Holland recently assembled from her blog posts of recent years. It follows up on Naturally Curious, the 2010 book, subtitled A Photographic Field Guide and Month-by-Month Journey through the Fields, Woods and Marshes of New England, in which she shared examples, some published in her column that the Valley News used to carry, of the evidence of wildlife she finds on rambles off the beaten track.

“Three years ago, I realized that I had accumulated a lot of posts,” Holland said. “A lot of people requested a guide based on the day-to-day.”

Holland estimates the readership of the blog ( at “around 3,000 followers.” As of the middle of this week, more than 2,800 followers had “liked” her Facebook page. Many of those followers call to alert her to what they’re seeing in and near the Upper Valley, generating more ideas for the blog.

And now, she said, “my fingers are crossed that people who bought the first Naturally Curious will be interested in seeing this book.” She added that it took time to make sure that she didn’t duplicate information from the first book.

“I worked hard on it for a couple of years,” Holland said. “I have a brother-in-law telling me that I should do a Naturally Curious hour-by-hour next.”

Not likely, given that Holland is still adjusting to digital communication. Then there’s the matter of all of those wild neighbors going into hiding for the winter.

“There’s a little pressure this time of year to come up with material to write about every day, because it’s not as easy to find things,” Holland said. “The amphibians and reptiles pretty much disappear, and there are no flowering plants.”

The slide into the dark months, especially the period before snow cover reveals the tracks of animals who are out and about, is giving Holland a bit more time to do presentations with her photographs and specimens, to promote the new book, and to work on follow-ups to her series of children’s books, among them Animal Eyes, Animal Legs, Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer and The Beavers’ Busy Year.

“Children, still, you don’t have to work at all to keep their interest,” Holland said. “They’re born curious.”

Hartland author-naturalist Mary Holland reads from, and answers questions about Naturally Curious: Day to Day at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 at the Hartland Public Library and at 5 p.m. on Nov. 18 at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich.

To reserve copies of the new book for Holland’s appearance in Hartland, call 802-436-2473 or email by Thursday of next week. To learn more about her appearance at the Montshire, visit

Special Collections

The Friends of Philip Read Memorial Library in Plainfield will celebrate the completion of almost two decades of renovations on Sunday afternoon by unveiling the library’s new meeting room and rooms for juniors and teens, and opening and dedicating the Nancy Norwalk Special Collection Room.

Norwalk, who directed the library for 40 years before switching her focus last summer to special collections, led the efforts to acquire land and raise money for the addition, the upstairs part of which was completed in 2004.

The downstairs room named for Norwalk was recently finished. With more than $500,000 from town voters, and years of grant applications, book auctions, book and bake sales, raffles and other fundraisers, the Friends amassed almost $730,000 for the project.

The reception begins at 1, and presentations will start at 2. To learn more, email or call 603-675-5494.

Author Readings

Poet Alice Lyons recited from her new collection, The Breadbasket of Europe, on Thursday afternoon at 4:30 at Woodstock’s Norman Williams Library. Harvard University’s Radcliffe Fellow in Poetry recently returned to the United States after living and working for 17 years in the northwest of Ireland.

Michael Caduto will read from and answer questions about his new collection of essays, Through a Naturalist’s Eyes: Exploring the Nature of New England, on Nov. 21 at the Norman Williams Public Library in Woodstock. The reading by Caduto, who directs the Justin Morrill State Historic Site in Strafford, begins at 4:30 p.m.


The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction is accepting applications for enrollment in its master of fine arts and certificate programs beginning in fall 2017.

On Nov. 12, the center will hold an open house, to which applicants and students considering enrollment are welcome to bring portfolios and sketchbooks for an admissions review.

Aspiring cartoonists aiming to formally enroll need to submit the following:

Comic stories of at least two pages, in plain black-and-white on paper or in the form of a ’zine or a mini-comic with the characters including the artist, a snowman, a robot and a piece of fruit.

Four samples of work in all media, including comics, computer art, video, paintings and drawings.

An essay of two to three pages, typed and double-spaced on one of these topics: “Cartoonists are like that” or “The Future.”

A curriculum vitae

Official school transcripts snail-mailed to: Admissions, The Center for Cartoon Studies, P.O. Box 125, 94 South Main St., White River Junction, Vt. 05001.

A letter of recommendation.

An application fee of $50.

Applications and materials also can be emailed to or faxed to 802-295-3399.

Space is limited for the open house on Nov. 12, so attendees should RSVP to

David Corriveau can be reached at and at 603-727-3304.

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