Rescue Us

I love that graduation speeches are now posted on the internet. Listening to them, the good ones, I can’t help but feel a little bit of that helium of opportunity and promise that I once had, in early summer, when I was the one who got to walk across the stage. One of my favorite […]

In Their Own Words

Inspired by guest Veronique Greenwood‘s three-part series (part 1, part 2, part 3) about learning a foreign language, some of the contributors to LWON volunteered for a week’s worth of essays about their own encounters with the challenges of linguistics.   This week, we’ve been looking at what it’s like to learn a new language as an adult. Kids seem to pick up […]

The Last Word

April 18 – 22, 2016 Guest Veronique Greenwood starts the week with the first in a three-part series of posts about learning Chinese. (Look for the next installment on Monday.) Erik doesn’t like parenting books, except when he does. And he really likes The Informed Parent. (But he still doesn’t know how to set up […]

This is what it sounds (looks) like

I’m a recent convert to Instagram as my main form of social media. After spending a lot of the day reading and writing, listening and talking, sometimes I just can’t take any more words. Facebook sometimes seems too complicated, Twitter too fast—but looking at images feels restful. I’ll follow most anything—photos of kids, vacation scenery, […]

Ding Dong Moose

I recently became familiar with a scientist whose productivity makes me exhausted: Georges-Louis Leclerc, the Count of Buffon, who produced a 36-volume work on natural history in the mid-18th century. Trained as a lawyer, he became interested in mathematics and then botany on his family’s lands in France. His work propelled him into a choice position as the […]

In Bloom

My kids are really into this cartoon called The Octonauts. It’s about a group of undersea rescuers and researchers (there’s a penguin medic, a sea otter marine biologist, a polar bear captain, among others, plus a group of squeaky-voiced creatures called vegimals.) In one of their (and my) favorite episodes, one of the crew members […]

With the Grain

There is a blue velour–covered box in my house marked with the face of a pirate and the word “Plunder.” Like any piratical treasure trove, there are golden coins inside. There are also marbles, leftover buttons, and crow feathers. Sometimes, I’m not quite sure what makes some of the things inside the box so valuable. […]

Redux: Below the Snow

Right now, the meteorological event that some are calling Winter Storm Kayla is on its way across the U.S. While people may be curled up inside with a quilt by the fire, another group of creatures is finding shelter outside, under a cold, white blanket. This post about that unique below-the-snow spot, called the subnivium, originally ran in […]