Konrad Steffen’s Desk

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came out with an even firmer stance on current environmental affairs, including reams of new data from more scientists saying, basically, news is not good. The New York Times called it “the starkest warning yet.” Little new was revealed in the report, rather it deepened the […]

Spider at the Window

My first impressions of the spider: It was big and seemingly smart. The brownish spider was nearly two inches long. It had constructed a thick, complicated web in the corner of my kitchen window’s frame, outside of the house. On the wall inside, right next to the web, is a light fixture that almost always […]

Winter Blooms

Winter is settling in: the air is nippy, branches are bare, and wearing open-toed shoes is now out of the question. During a recent visit to a horticulture centre, though, I was impressed to see that many flowers in their gardens still bloomed. Cheery red blossoms, gold-centered asters, and frilly magenta petals popped against a bleak backdrop […]

What Destruction Has Wrought

On Monday, a slowly-creeping lava flow claimed its first house on the Big Island of Hawaii. The iron-heavy pahoehoe flow crossed the house’s yard and moved through a wall, sending flames into the 1,100-square-foot structure before continuing on to take down a nearby corrugated shed. This flow has been on the move since it first […]

Outdoors After Dark

It’s 6 am on an early November morning, and I am tiptoeing up a juniper hillside with a rifle slung over my shoulder. I’m following Adam, my friend and guide, when suddenly he stops. “Listen.” It’s still completely dark, except for the sea of stars above us, which I gaze up at as I stop […]

Forward by Failure

A few years ago, I decided to take up hunting. This was kind of a big deal, because I’d spent the first decade-plus of my adult life as vegetarian. I became a big game hunter for the same reason I raise chickens — to know where my food comes from and ensure that it’s raised […]

On a Decade of Getting Pooped On By Birds

1. Washington, D.C., 2004 or so A bench around a circular planter, with a tree in it. I was eating my lunch. I felt something on my arm. We call it poop, but the stuff that comes out of birds’ behinds is more complicated than that. Birds, like most vertebrates that aren’t mammals, have a […]

Guest Post: My Unhard Heart

Having grown up in Connecticut, I spent most of my childhood exploring streams, creeks, shorelines and marshes. Some of those places weren’t just mucky, they were dirty (as in “this is why we have the Clean Water Act” dirty). But all around, there were lush, green, magical places. When I moved to the arid Southwest, […]