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, […]

Redux: A Dead World at Sunset

This was first published in March of 2011. As winter descends upon the sub-Arctic once more, I revisit these moments of awe on a frozen lake. “It may not strike you as a marvel; it would not, perhaps, unless you were standing in the middle of a dead world at sunset, but that was where […]

On My Way to Burning Man

I’ve just returned from Burning Man, a Mad Max bacchanalia in the desert of western Nevada. I went to see what my civilization was up to, what fiery pinnacle we’ve invented. I also wanted to see it in context, which is why my time at this 69,000-person conflagration was only part of a larger journey. […]

The Urban Ocean

Where do you fall on the issue of wind farms at sea? Tidal energy generators? Artificial reefs? Mooring fields? Glass bottles? Old piers? Shipwrecks? Are they junk to be cleared away or are they habitat to be protected? How are they to be categorized, and at what stage in their “useful” lives do they become […]

The Roads Not Traveled

On September 3, the U.S. Wilderness Act turns 50 years old. The law’s call to protect places “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man” has always been poignant, and our enthusiasm for trammeling seems greater every year. So the Wilderness Act’s half-century mark has occasioned a great deal of handwringing. Does wilderness […]

Only I

Smokey Bear Celebrates 70th Birthday and Reminds Americans … “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”                                 –  Ad Council press release, August 7, 2014 Why me? Why am I the only one who can prevent wildfires? Forest fires were burden enough. I’ve […]