The Map Box

I keep a wooden box on my bedside table. It’s cheap – an old Yalumba Wine case that I found on a curb somewhere, with a hinged lid and a shred of price tag still attached. Usually, it’s stacked high with magazines half read, a thing seldom opened and often dusty. But in all of […]

Sensory Underload

Three years ago on about this day in early June I was stuck in a whiteout. Camped in an icebound mountain range in south-central Alaska, my buddies and I found ourselves pinned down for two days in near-zero visibility on an icefield. A heavy, snow-laden sky had come down and smothered us. As mountaineers say, it […]

Redux: The Botanist Nobody Knew

Before dawn on October 3, 1932, in the small Columbia River town of Bingen, Washington, an 82-year-old man walked to the depot to catch the morning train to Portland. Under circumstances that remain unclear, the arriving train struck him down, killing him almost instantly. The man had lived in town for more than half a […]

This is what it sounds (looks) like

I’m a recent convert to Instagram as my main form of social media. After spending a lot of the day reading and writing, listening and talking, sometimes I just can’t take any more words. Facebook sometimes seems too complicated, Twitter too fast—but looking at images feels restful. I’ll follow most anything—photos of kids, vacation scenery, […]

Damage Patterns

The other night I was in the midst of writing about the Ice Age when I strayed to the internet. Up came the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography that went this year to New York Times photographers Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks and Daniel Etter for their coverage of the European refugee crises. Fresh from writing a […]

Redux: The Xenotopian Impulse

Until last week, I’d never heard of the Broomway. Now I long to walk it. The Broomway is a paradox: a path through the ocean, a six-century-old walkway that disappears each day. It begins on the southeastern coast of England and heads straight out to sea, crossing about three miles of sand and mudflats until […]

Gratuitous Cherry Blossom Pictures

You can’t miss the cherry blossoms at this time of year in Washington, D.C. Clouds of white and pink proclaim the end of winter, on the streets and by the parking lots. Most famously, and unbeatably, they bloom around the edge of the Tidal Basin.

Coming of Age

  A few years ago, I joined a group of families on a backcountry kayaking trip in Alaska’s Prince William sound. A kid named Will was just about to turn 13, and I was there to watch him come of age. I’d known him as a strong little wild-haired monkey, but on this trip he […]