Photographer takes readers on unforgettable journey through Florida’s River of Grass.
The Bookworm Book Club was honored to host award-winning conservation photographer and naturalist Mac Stone as the debut speaker for The Distinguished Florida Author Series. His just-released book “Everglades: America’s Wetland” is the stunning product of five years of living and breathing every aspect of the Everglades from Lake Okeechobee south to the rivers, creeks and swamps that feed into it.
The cover photo of the endangered snail kite swooping in to pick up an apple snail is just an appetizer for the feast contained within this book’s pages. Every photo in this 304-page book is a delicacy for the eyes and the soul.
As Stone captures the flora, fauna and weather of this magnificent Florida treasure, the reader is struck by the blend of hauntingly beautiful scenes, delightfully cute baby birds, glorious rare flowers, towering trees and frightening predators.
“Everglades” is more than a nice book of pictures; it is a prayer for the restoration of the most diverse ecosystem in the world. Stone shines a spotlight on the intense beauty of the area, but also explains the complex interdependence of all the species, including man, who is trying to survive and prosper in this vast River of Grass.
A foreword by Michael Grunwald, Time magazine senior national correspondent and a resident of Miami, pleads the case that the economic health of Florida depends on the health of the Everglades. In an age when water will become even more precious than oil, the restoration of the Everglades is imperative.
Stone also chronicles the invasion by exotic species that threaten the ecology. Most of us are aware of the menace the Burmese python has created in the Everglades, but those huge snakes are only one problem. Stone likewise asks us to consider more than 500 non-native invasive species the state spends millions of dollars to remove, including melaleuca trees from Australia, crocodiles from Africa and hundreds of other animals and plant species that have hitchhiked here from all over the world. In this global society, he asks us to realize that our actions can have long-lasting and often unintended, dire consequences.
Stone grew up in Gainesville, with backwater creeks, wetland prairies and freshwater lakes serving as his playgrounds. At Virginia Tech, he majored in international politics, Spanish and environmental studies with a minor in biology. He never formally studied photography, but he shoots like he has. Stone’s camera has carried him to Ecuador and Honduras, but his love of Florida drew him back home.
The only thing better than having this book to enjoy and reflect on was having Mac Stone in person to give us a behind-the-scenes look at this heroic undertaking. Striding into the recreation center, Stone looked like he just graduated from high school. But as soon as he began to speak, the audience knew this was no child in front of them. Listening to him describe the trials and triumphs of this endeavor were riveting.
The audience asked Stone about how he processes his photos. He made this point, “Although I use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to process and edit every image, I have not added or removed subjects, except for the dust that occasionally clings to my camera’s senor.” Through his photography, Stone strives to start new conservations and expose the dynamic relationship between mankind and the natural world.
This is not an ordinary coffee table book, but one that you will treasure and surely wear out as you gaze time after time at the brilliant photos.
The Next Meeting
The Bookworm Book Club will meet April 15 to discuss “The Book Club” by Mary Alice Monroe. Club chairwoman Kathy Porter can be contacted at 352.259.8196 or email@example.com.