Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
NOTHING BUGS HER
MOST PEOPLE SQUEAL, FLEE OR ATTACK at the very sight of a bug and, as a child in Kalamazoo, Mich., Sue Hubbell was no exception—until one afternoon when she awakened from a nap to find herself face to face with a shiny beetle known as a rose chafer. Her screams brought her father, who first comforted her and then began instructing her about the natural world. "Dad gave me the idea that everything had a story," she says. "You may not know what the story is, but it's there."
Hubbell, 58, a self-taught naturalist and author of three previous books, has a gift for finding and telling those stories. Though she took several entomology courses in college, her passion for the subject was not really sparked until 1972 when she and her first husband left academic positions at Brown University in Rhode Island and took up beekeeping in the Missouri Ozarks. "We were active in the antiwar movement," she explains, "and it seemed the country was going to hell, so we decided to drop out. My husband said, 'We might as well do bees. We don't know anything about cows.' "
So began Hubbell's fascination with not just raising bees, but also writing about insects and the characters who study them. And despite a limited market for insect journalism, Hubbell—who divides her time between the Ozarks and Washington with second husband Arne Sieverts, a spokesman for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—plans to continue chronicling the wonders of the world of other orders. "If I could get away with it," she says, "I would love to keep writing about bugs."