Feminine and unapologetic

I started crying while doing the dishes last week. Domestic weeping of this kind used to be rarer for me before the Trump election, but I am afraid it is all too common now since, like everyone else, I listen to the news while I do housework. In this case, for once, it was happy […]

Totality Awesome

The eclipse, as narrated by our children and their friends. Two hours before totality Adele, age 7: “What do you know about the eclipse?” Lulu, age 8: “What happens is that the moon comes in front of the sun and eats it and blocks the sunlight.” Adele: “Goes in front of it, kinda.” Lulu: “And […]

A wild flower, caged.

About 150 miles northwest of Tahiti lies Raiatea, 65 square miles, and the spiritual center of the Polynesian world. This week, a holy site there, Taputapuatea, was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. Another world-famous marvel on the island is the tiare apetahi, an incredibly rare flower found only on Raiatea, and […]

Redux: Coming of Age in a Trash Forest

My friend Taya and I were out at her parents’ country place, about twelve acres in the western foothills of the Cascades. I was maybe eight, visiting for the first time. Taya was taking me on a tour. We were struggling along, as short-legged people do through dense, early successional Northwest forest. She stopped and […]

On Taphonomy

Taphonomy is the study of what happens to bodies, especially bones, after death on their way to fossilization. Few remains make it that far, but when they do, taphonomy is the journey through which the biological becomes geological. In life, bones are tissues, despite their rigidity. Calcium flows in and out of the bone bank as […]

Urban Wilderness and the “High Line Problem”

In October of 2013, I toured three miles of disused railroad line in Philadelphia. Some of it was underground, some on ground level, and some elevated. All of it was covered in spontaneous vegetation—garden plants, common weeds, and native species, a wild, diverse hodgepodge of over 50 species alive with fungi and butterflies and ladybugs. […]

On Competence

As human civilization becomes ever more technologically complex, the average competence of each person declines. When a society operates using a suite of technologies that a single adult can learn in his or her lifetime—building a house from scratch, farming, spinning cotton, making medicines, having babies, hunting, fishing, singing and dancing—then it is possible to […]

Reading Sci-Fi with Astrobioloigist David Grinspoon

David Grinspoon is a comparative planetologist and an astrobiologist. He’s also a big book nerd, and his love for both fiction and nonfiction are proudly on display in his own new book, Earth In Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future. Grinspoon’s book uses insight from the study of the other planets in our solar system […]