Here we are, coming to the close of perhaps the biggest gift-giving season of each year.

There are so many of them now, blurring the underlying reasons for the observations. Presidents Day, Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas — even New Year’s Day. Another day off or an excuse to party. Why, I remember when George Washington had his own day and kept it until it became less an observation than a chance for stores to clear out winter goods to get ready for spring.

Which somehow brings me to what I’d like to discuss today. I mentioned here a few weeks ago that I’d hope to plug books as last-minute Christmas gifts. Books are always desirable gifts. Mostly my plan was to suggest some books by local authors that I’ve read, seen or heard about, all the while recognizing that I’ll undoubtedly irritate somebody inadvertently. Sorry about that in advance.

Some tasks don’t get done on time ... or ever. So now we’re down to just a couple of shopping days. Last-minute, perhaps, yet enough minutes. Thus, here’s a greatly shortened list of books for your consideration. I’ve come up against my last-minute deadline; here comes a bare-bones-minimum, simple listing of some books for you to consider. Books don’t spoil, and they make nice gifts or acquisitions all year long.

“Green Fire: Stories from the Wild,” Earle F. Layser

“Travels with Max: In search of Steinbeck’s America Fifty Years Later,” Greg Zeigler

“Wildlife on the Wind: A Field Biologist’s Journey and an Indian Reservation’s Renewal,” Bruce L. Smith

“The Wolverine Way,” Douglas H. Chadwick

“Jackson Hole Ski Atlas: A Collection of Aerial Photographs,” Angus M. Thuermer Jr., et al.

“The Hockey Stick Illusion,” A.W. Montford

“Birds of Sage and Scree,” Greg McHuron and Bert Raynes

Anything by Ken Thomasma, Tim Sandlin, Ted Kerasote, John Byrne Cooke, Henry Holdsworth, Tom Mangelsen, Becky Woods, Susan Marsh, Charlie Craighead, Broughton Coburn

“High Altitude Winter Gardening,” Marilyn Quinn

“Go Green: How to Build an Earth-Friendly Community,” Nancy Taylor

“Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone: A Mountaineering History and Guide,” Thomas Turiano

“Teton Shadow Deer,” John B. and Pamela D. Mortensen

I am fortunate to know or to have met many local published authors and aspiring talented writers. The above list doesn’t even hint at how many published authors there are in our immediate region. Thus, there’s no doubt I’ve neglected a lot of them, for which I can only apologize at this time. Mea culpa.

Field Notes: By the time this is published, the Jackson Hole annual Christmas Bird Count will be history. Weather hasn’t ever canceled a local count, although perhaps should have once or twice. Conditions really hard on people are harder on birds. Results will take a little time.

Don’t stop reporting your sightings this winter, please. What and where birds and animals do and live in winter reveals their needs for survival and, then, can tell us how we can help them to live and thrive.

If you are a trained nature mapper, you know how to enter your observations at www.naturemappingjh.org. If you’re not, get trained. It’s rather fun.

The following Nature Mapping training sessions have been arranged in the hope that most people who wish to take part will find one of the dates and times works for them: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 1, Jan. 18 and Jan. 19, all at Teton County Library, 125 Virginian Lane.

You should bring a laptop computer that has wireless capability, and a pen and paper. You will use the computer to access the Nature Mapping web-based tools. If you need a computer, say so in advance, and an attempt will be made to get one for you.

It is important to register in advance. Your name and e-mail address will be used to create an account in the Nature Mapping system in advance of the training. You can register by e-mailing Sue Colligan, executive director of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation, at info@jhwildlife.org, or by calling her at 739-0968.

If you are not yet trained, your bird and animal reports are still appreciated. Call Susan Patla, 733-2321, and tell us.

Season’s greetings and a healthy new year for all.

© Bert Raynes 2010

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Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.

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