A Sense of Many Places

In the past half year, I’ve traveled a lot. I’ve always traveled a lot. Until recently there’s been a heavy emphasis on longer trips: going to live in a foreign country or hang out on a ship for a few weeks or months. In the five and a half years I was freelancing, time was […]

Remnant of Eden

A summer not long ago I went for a grueling 3-day backpack through GMO cornfields in Iowa, camping among walls of waxy green leaves that sawed against each other in the breeze. I wanted to see what besides corn and soybeans lived out here. Not much, I found. Spiders and ants were few and only […]

The Amazing Lives of Fan Li and Xi Shi

Gather round, my children and allow me to regale you with the wonderful tale of the adventures of Fan Li and Xi Shi – military strategist, femme fatale, and all-around badasses. Fan Li was born in a town called Yuan Sanhu sometime in the late 6th Century BCE in a kingdom called Yue, near the modern […]

Behind the Curve

The Keeling Curve—the sawtoothed upward slope of atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations—may be the world’s most famous scatter plot. The data that form the curve have been accumulating since the 1950s, when scientist Charles David Keeling set up his instruments at a geophysical observatory high on Mauna Loa, one of the massive volcanoes that form the Big […]

Guest Post: The Resilience of The Citified Bobcat

If you were a bobcat, all tufted ears and oblique green eyes and lush spotted coat, you might find a lot to like about life in the Santa Monica Mountains. In the low, rugged range that bisects metropolitan Los Angeles, you would feast on the hordes of rats that frequent the unkempt middens of slovenly humans. You […]

From Puffball to Predator

On December 6, 2005, a polar bear was born in captivity. His mother rejected him and his twin, and his twin died. The survivor was an adorable baby polar bear, but that phrase doesn’t need the initial adjective, does it? A baby polar bear is a little puffball, white with button eyes and perfect and […]

These Are a Few of Our Favorite Places

When my husband finished grad school in 2006, we spent a lot of time talking about where we should go next. We knew we wanted to leave the college town in Oregon where we’d lived for the last few years. Should we head to the Cascades, move north along the Willamette River, or go south and west, […]

The Language of Change

The nature writer Robert Macfarlane is so skilled—so precise, so observant—that he can make an unsuspecting reader long for mudflats. This careful selector of words is also a collector of them: Macfarlane has just published a lovely essay (and a book) about his hoard of “place words,” terms gathered over years of travel in Britain […]