River time, river tongue

It was a bird of confluences. Nameless, to us. Gray as cloud belly, large as raptor, with eyes streaked over black as if with a stick of charcoal. The first time I saw it, I stood shin deep in the narrow, clear Pitman River, steps away from the line of opaque jade water marking its […]

Snark Week: The Great Horny Owl

Owls. Little downy Ewoks. Fat and fusiform with big round eyes, legs feathered like miniature pilot pants in a stiff wind, perhaps a pair of droopy tuft ears. What is more trustworthy than droopy tuft ears? They appear as if they will take your deepest secrets to the grave. Perhaps this is why owls decorate […]

The Map Box

I keep a wooden box on my bedside table. It’s cheap – an old Yalumba Wine case that I found on a curb somewhere, with a hinged lid and a shred of price tag still attached. Usually, it’s stacked high with magazines half read, a thing seldom opened and often dusty. But in all of […]

The Last Word

May 9-13 This week, Richard set out to prove, unscientifically, that slow readers are slow language learners. When he failed, he realized his method was scientific after all — just not in the way he expected. Jennifer discovered she was just fine with being woken up in the wee hours by hysterical laughter, so long […]

Flying forest

Corvids are a wonderful genre of beast. I was reminded of this fact not long ago when, biking back home across southeast Portland from the waterfront, a veritable river of crows began streaming overhead. Thousands of them blurred and bobbed and circled each other in a stuttering current from east to west. This current eddied […]

The Oregon Trail Game

The first time I played the Oregon Trail computer game – a parody of American westward expansion inflicted on countless school kids – was this winter. I was snug in bed, as befits a prospective pioneer facing one of history’s largest human migrations. Up to 500,000 settlers set out along the Oregon and California Trails […]

The day I tried to love ticks

There’s a certain category of mundane but distinctly unpleasant discovery: The blueberries you just mixed in your oatmeal explode mold into your mouth at 6 a.m. You read that Donald Trump won the Nevada Republican caucuses. You roll over in bed to find a tick lodged midriff-deep in your shoulder, wiggling about with a tenacity […]