Edwin Way Teale

The Thrill of Travel

On this day in 1942, the Freeport Journal published a delightful story about the naturalist Edwin Way Teale.

Here's what it said,

"To most of his neighbors Edwin Way Teale Is known as the man who can spend a solid day In a two-acre field without 1) being on a picnic, or (2) apparently doing a stroke of work. 
Scientists... assert that his collection of 15,000 photographs of insects—most of them taken in that same two-acre field—is an important contribution to entomology. Edwin Teale himself insists that he's just an amateur who managed to make a hobby pay. 

... In college he had majored in English; entomology was only a word to him. 

About six years ago," he recounts, "I was writing an article on fishing. I took some pictures of dry flies, and somehow that started me photographing live insects. 
Soon afterward, neighbors stared when they saw him crawling around his back yard with a magnifying glass. 

This led him to rent the "insect rights" to a nearby field which contains several apple trees, a patch of swamp and other features attractive to winged and crawling life. He estimates there are 1,800 varieties of insects in the tract. 

"It is a universe," Teale says. "Exploring it provides the thrill of travel and adventure." 

... Once he made friends with a praying mantis. He named her "Dinah" and she shared his study for weeks. Finally, Dinah devoured her own arm. Teale had just time to get the picture. Earlier he had taken her to New York City where she escaped from his pocket on Broadway. Denizens of that cynical thoroughfare were surprised to see a well-dressed six-footer frantically pursuing a bug."

A year after this article, Teale's book By-ways to Adventure: A Guide to Nature Hobbies won the John Burroughs Medal for distinguished natural history writing.  

Sadly, during World War II, the Teale’s son, David, was killed in Germany. Teale and his wife began traveling across the country by automobile. The trips help them cope with their grief and became an integral part of Teale's writing. Their 1947 journey, covering 17,000 miles in a black Buick and following the unfolding spring, led to Teale's book North with the Spring.

Additional road trips lead to more books: Journey Into Summer, Autumn Across America, and Wandering Through Winter. Wandering Through Winter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1966.
And, it was  Teale who said:

"For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad."

" Any fine morning, a power saw can fell a tree that took a thousand years to grow."

“Our minds, as well as our bodies, have need of the out-of-doors. Our spirits, too, need simple things, elemental things, the sun and the wind and the rain, moonlight and starlight, sunrise and mist and mossy forest trails, the perfumes of dawn and the smell of fresh-turned earth and the ancient music of wind among the trees.”  

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Edwin Way Teale
Edwin Way Teale


  1. Gary Lovell on December 30, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    It was not until I reread Near Horizons in 1995, that I realized that I kinda took after Mr. Teale in his Travelogues and he started my interest in singing insects, giant silk moths , mantids and gardening to attract insects.I have been keeping Journals on insects and nature since 1969.
    I have read many of his books and thank him and God for connecting us.

  2. Gary Lovell on January 11, 2024 at 9:12 am

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