Same River Twice

Since last week, we’ve been watching the weather forecast with something that’s almost joy, but won’t quite let itself be. Often, the weekly report has a beaded string of sunshines, with different ways to describe them. Abundant sunshine. Plenty of sun. Hot. Sometimes, there are clouds. But even when the slot machine lineup of my weather […]

Redux: Water Year

This post first appeared on October 8, 2015, when I was still hopeful that a good strong El Nino could hold off California’s water problems a while longer. Where I am, it didn’t work. One of our reservoirs is now at 7 percent capacity. At another, the dam worker now needs water trucked in to […]

Rainbow Connection

The other day, as our kids played around a big, messy tree–one with patchy bark and drooping sickle-shaped leaves–a friend told me she was going to show me a picture of a eucalyptus she knew I would love. A eucalyptus? Not one of these troublesome trees, I thought. But then she held up her phone. I peered in […]

Where the Boys Are (The men need to be, too)

The outline of the story is as familiar as it is tawdry: a group of high school boys turn sexual insecurity into a contest, and a contest into emotional brutality. Adults in their orbit express shock and outrage, and observers pretend that the migration of teen sleaze onto the Internet represents something new. But why […]

Battling the Beetles

On a cold, clear June morning high in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains, Jesse Logan stopped on a snow-covered hillside and pointed with his ski pole to a large pine tree. A few of its needles were turning red, a sign of trouble. About a dozen people gathered around him on the snow to listen. “We […]

Christchurch, Hardtack and the Myth of Earthquake Preparedness

I sleep with old sneakers and work gloves under my bed. My house and car are stocked with hand-crank radios, potable water and archaic, shelf-stable foodstuffs like hardtack and jerky. In my closet there is a crowbar and a very large axe, which I will use, should an earthquake tumble the walls, to excavate through […]

A drop of treasure, lost in an ocean of debt

Let’s get this out of the way first: Ancient Alexandria, it’s not. Still, the library of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California, San Diego, is the closest thing the marine sciences have to a central repository of books, periodicals and documents. And like that original Alexandria, this one is threatened by, […]