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The Altamaha rises dark and mysterious in southeast Georgia. It is deep and wide bordered by swamps. Its corridor contains an extraordinary biodiversity, including many rare and endangered species, which led The Nature Conservancy to designate it as one of the world’s last great places.
The Altamaha is Ray’s river, and from childhood she dreamed of paddling its entire length to where it empties into the sea. Drifting into Darien: A Personal & Natural History of the Altamaha River begins with an account of finally making that journey, turning to meditations on the many ways we accept a world that contains both good and evil. With praise, biting satire, and hope, Ray goes looking for wisdom and finds a river.
Though commemorating a history that includes logging, Ray celebrates “a culture that sprang from the flatwoods, which required a judicious use of nature.” She looks in vain for an ivorybill woodpecker and is equally eager to see any of the imperiled species found in the river basin: spiny mussel, American oystercatcher, Radford’s mint, Alabama milkvine.
As in her groundbreaking Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Ray writes an account that includes both social history and natural history, understanding the two as inseparable, particularly in the rural corner of Georgia that she knows best.
Published by University of Georgia Press.