"Places In The Heart," by James M. Toto (Vantage Press, Inc., $7.95).
James Toto of Warren has always viewed himself as an environmentalist, even when he steps onto the shop floor at his job as a Mahoning Valley steelworker. His day job puts food on his table, while the call of nature is his "heart and interest."
"Hopefully it will turn into a career," he said recently.
That interest is the basis for his first book, a collection of essays about the bodies of water, wooded areas and fields he comes in contact with as an ourdoorsman and sometimes tour guide.
In one chapter of the small paperback, his writing meanders through the one of his favorite topics: the Mahoning River.
"The durable corridor has paid a high price for its reluctant participation in forming the local economy of the once large and important towns its shoreline touched," Toto writes.
Much of the book flows this way in image-laden language.
"The soft, wet earth along the river's edge allows for a color ful mosaic of assorted wildflowers to exist and adorn the riverscape," he writes.
Toto says he was educated in wildlife management at Hocking College and has always wanted to pursue a career in it.
To remain active in the field, he volunteers at TAMPEEL Laboratory near Warren and he gives nature hikes along the Mosquito Creek floodplain in Howland Township in the warmer months.
As for writing additional books, Toto says he has to see how the first one fares financially first. He adds that he has enough material in his head for several more.