In this fine collection of essays, Barbara Kingsolver writes about some of the things that matter most to her: the particularities of place, the play of the past, the challenges of parenthood, the vocation of writing, the pleasures of community, and the moral imperatives to speak out against palpable evil. The author, who trained as a biologist, writes poetically about the natural world whether in Kentucky, Hawaii, the Canary Islands, or her own back yard in Tucson.

Kingsolver can and does have fun. Check out her whimsical account of a book tour and her delightful response to playing in an all-author rock band. The best pieces are those in which she speaks out forcefully against the Gulf War, the continuing expenditures on the American war machine, and censorship and violence in the media. Kingsolver is a national treasure.