Self-Portrait with Turtles
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Self-Portrait with Turtles

Carroll, a naturalist and an artist, discovered turtles when he was eight years old, and in this slight but charming memoir, he tells how these wetland creatures forever changed and directed his life. After his first encounter with a spotted turtle in a woodland pool near his home in a central Pennsylvania housing project, he was obsessed, wading in swamps, marshes, streams and ditches to find turtles no matter where he lived.

This infatuation led to a fascination with everything in nature, and he combined this interest with his talent for drawing and painting, attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and embarking on a brief career as an art teacher. Although he was popular with the students, especially the more unconventional ones, he was too exuberant and imaginative to last in that profession, so he and his wife, also an artist, moved to rural New Hampshire, where he could devote himself to nature studies.

Carroll has now been observing turtles for 50 years, and although he laments that their habitats are often lost to development, he continues to find them everywhere. In an especially touching final chapter, he tells of following one particular spotted turtle for 18 years and finally succeeding in observing her annual nesting ritual. Unlike his earlier book, The Year of the Turtle, this is not a natural history of turtles but rather a meditation on the author’s life as a naturalist and a paean to the intriguing creatures that lured him to that calling. Illus. by the author.  –Publishers Weekly

Swampwalker’s Journalprintable order form
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Swampwalker's Journal

Artist, writer and environmentalist Carroll completes his “wet-sneaker trilogy” (The Year of the Turtle; Trout Reflections) with this intimate and impassioned exploration of wetlands throughout the northeastern U.S. By attempting to capture the “defining essence” of these places, their hydrology, structure, signature plant and animal species, Carroll hopes to inspire both a greater appreciation of wetlands and a desire to help protect them.

An ardent student of swamps since his first childhood encounter with a spotted turtle, the author is at his best describing the often-overlooked natural dramas unfolding around him: great congresses of salamanders engaged in communal love play; doomed tadpoles searching desperately for shade and water during a drought; a painted turtle’s futile attempts to elude a determined raccoon. A patient and gifted observer, Carroll returns to the same haunts season after season in search of old friends like Ariadne, a spotted turtle he has met each spring for 14 years.

Amateur naturalists will especially enjoy his carefully detailed descriptions and line drawings, and his thorough knowledge of wetland species. Carroll’s anger about the threats facing these increasingly rare areas, and the scorn he evinces toward many environmentalists, strike the only discordant notes in an otherwise lyrical and reflective book. –Publishers Weekly

Trout Reflectionsprintable order form
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Autographed First-edition


Trout Reflections

Naturalist David Carroll leads readers through the yearly cycle of the trout and introduces them to the flora and fauna that inhabit its watery world. The reader sees what takes place beneath a river’s surface, experiences the thrill of fishing on opening day, and joins Carroll as he keeps various “appointments with the seasons.” 63 illustrations. 12 watercolors.

Carroll, author of The Year of the Turtle, here turns his attention to trout, following their annual cycle in New England streams. Like many trout fishermen, he seems to have a special affinity with nature. He writes lyrical, detailed descriptions of the countryside and woods in which trout streams are found, observing the effects of seasonal changes. Brook trout is the native fish; brown and rainbow trout are introduced species.

Discussing stocking and explaining how each species has adapted, he points out favorite places of trout, admires the brook’s coloration and observes their courtship rites in the autumn. His line drawings and watercolors illuminate a text that will appeal to readers who enjoy the outdoors. –Publishers Weekly

The Year of the Turtleprintable order form
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Autographed First-edition


The Year of the Turtle

David Carroll, artist and naturalist, has produced an interesting account of the chelonian life of a New Hampshire swamp; he brings obvious pleasure in knowing these creatures to his writing. Precise drawings of the plant and animal life to be found along with the turtles embellish almost every page of the book.

The eight color paintings of the snapping, spotted, and painted turtles about which he writes in detail are handsome and give a clear vision of the animals in their native habitat. The writing is lucid and informative, based on a firm foundation of research, and the illustrations are excellent. — Katharine Galloway Garstka, Intergraph Corp., Huntsville, Ala.

Following the Waterprintable order form
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Following the Water


In this sensuous nature journal, MacArthur “genius” award winner Carroll (The Year of the Turtle) follows the inhabitants of his local New Hampshire wetlands through a season of turtle life from March thaw, when the turtles wake from hibernation, to November, when ice puts them back to sleep, along the way celebrating such personal “holy days” as “the Return of the Red-winged Blackbird.”

Wearing camouflage and waders, he meets wildlife on its own terms. At the sudden appearance of a red doe, he wonders, “to have those senses-would I trade my thinking, dreaming, imagining mind for them for one full day… would I ever want to come back?” He watches a thirsty turtle hatchling encountering water for the first time: he “extends his neck full length, immerses his head, closes his eyes” and drinks for 21 minutes.”

Accompanied by Carroll’s own exquisite drawings, this poetic recording of his season of loving observation is subdued by Carroll’s dread of habitat destruction and nostalgia for a boyhood when “I entered waters that, if not alive themselves, were so filled with light and life that my binding with them was as much metaphysical as physical.” –Publishers Weekly