A Tree Persists in Brooklyn

The first pages of children’s classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn describe eleven-year-old Francie Nolan sitting on her Brooklyn fire escape, daydreaming that she lives in a tree. For Francie, it wasn’t hard to imagine; tree limbs curled gracefully around the fire escape, shading her from the summer sun with umbrellas of pointed leaves. The tree […]

Silver Lining

  I felt so successful this weekend. I cleaned out multiple closets, filled bags with clothes that I’ve been keeping since college, organized the box of “just-in-case” kid coloring books and trinkets that I save for emergencies. When I open the closet in the morning, there’s a neat row of clothes hanging in a line, […]

Redux: Marine Iguanas Don’t Want to Cuddle With You

So, summer is coming to an end again (damn you, ephemeral summer!) and I’ve been thinking about past summers’ best adventures. For me, a best adventure is always going to include wild animals. In this case, it was the funny-faced marine iguanas I met in the Galapagos. They didn’t give a shit about me, but […]

Corvid Redux Week: The Crow Knows Your Nose

Like Ann, I’m a recent convert to the charm of crows. This has led to a running joke with my husband’s cousin, Roger. At family reunions, I tell him how much I like crows. He tells me how much he likes to shoot them. Hilarious, right? Here’s the satisfying part: Crows remember Roger. They don’t just remember Roger’s […]

Redux: Rainbow Connection

  I wrote this post in 2014 after my kids were playing around a large eucalyptus tree in a nearby park. After writing it, I became much more fond of that dishevled tree–even though it wasn’t a rainbow eucalyptus, the tree had a distinct charm of its own. So I was a little sad when […]

Mourning the Dove

There’s great dignity in the mourning dove. Rarely does one demand attention. A pair’s gentle cooing is a pleasure, the whisper of parents trying not to wake the baby. The whir of their wings in flight (called sonation) recalls a wind-up toy. A couple of them, in velvety gray-brown with daubs of black low on […]

Girasol

There’s an unclaimed patch of ground right next to our driveway, the planting strip between the sidewalk and the street. Over the years it’s been filled with many things. Weeds, mostly. Orange poppies. Maroon-colored amaranth that toss confetti seeds across the sidewalk. Weeds, again. This year, my husband and our youngest son planted sunflowers in […]

We Humans Know Nothing About Sharks

Next week is Shark Week, which means that we at the Last Word will be spending the week specifically not talking about sharks. Instead, we will scour the globe for far more dangerous and adorable critters in a yearly tradition called Snark Week. And while I might argue that Snark Week is a far bigger […]