On the Discovery of Liquid Water on Mars

The first memory I know for sure is the smell of rain. I remember a screen door with holes in it big enough to let in a hummingbird, and outside I could see blue bellies of clouds over a dirt road. I can only figure it was somewhere in Arizona where I was born. I’ve always […]

Guest post: Water Unbound

It has been raining for three days now, really raining, the kind of rain that can only occur in a place that receives upwards of 7 meters of rain a year. Three days ago, water began pouring out of the sky the way it might during a tropical afternoon storm or a monsoon — a […]

Animals in their Seasons

Bowhunting season in Western Colorado opened yesterday, which means the rut is underway, the next season coming into view. By the time you see this, I will be sitting in the quiet of the woods with my 12 year old boy listening for bugling elk, their haunting, whale-like calls rising through dusk aspens and sea-green […]

Guest Post: Postcard from El Salvador

Agricultural engineer Irene Varela is a compelling presence. Six farmers are gathered on the patio of a church library in Santiago Texacuangos in El Salvador, about an hour outside the country’s capital for a workshop she’s leading. “What’s the soil like when you have worms?” Varela asks in Spanish. “Moist,” says one famer. “Rich,” says […]

Guest Post: How to Stop a Tsunami in Three Easy Steps

Right now, parents newly versed in the vocabulary of doom are discussing the Cascadia subduction in Seattle backyards, in Portland parks. They’ve read the recent New Yorker article about the devastating earthquake overdue in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe they’ve also read the stories in Outside and Discover. They know that three thousand schools around the […]

Go Occupy Those Forlorn Chairs

It’s summer, and I’ve been thinking of what poet Billy Collins called those, “forlorn chairs/though at one time it must have seemed/a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.” Even situated, as they usually are, to take in the view, it’s hard for those chairs to compete with the attention-grabbing distractions found […]

Where the Wind Has No Name

Of all the evocative place words humans have come up with, the words for local winds may be the most varied and most charming. There’s the Albrohos of Portugal, the Gilavar and the Khazri of Azerbaijan, and the Shamal of Iraq. There’s the Cape Doctor of South Africa, the Hawk of Chicago, and the Wreckhouse winds of Newfoundland. […]

The Calendar Made of Earth

With a calendar and Google Earth on my computer, you’d think I wouldn’t need the horizon any more, but I find I need it more than ever. After 15 years living in the same house tucked into the West Elk Mountains of western Colorado, I moved this winter a few hours southwest into mesas and […]