Speaking of the Trees

The fires, the fires. When I started writing this some weeks back there were 137 of them torching forests across the American West. There are many fewer now—thank firefighters and weather—but so far they’ve consumed some 8.5 million acres of trees, some of them old growth, many of them on parkland filled with wildlife. British […]

The Great Eucalyptus Debate

The Tasmanian blue gum, Eucalyptus globulus, is a magnificent tree. That is perhaps the only thing that everyone agrees on. It is, as Jake Sigg puts it, “a big, grand, old tree.” Tall, gnarled, stripey-barked, with white flowers like sea anemones, blue gum eucalyptus are characteristic of the San Francisco Bay area, despite being native […]

Redux: Below the Snow

Right now, the meteorological event that some are calling Winter Storm Kayla is on its way across the U.S. While people may be curled up inside with a quilt by the fire, another group of creatures is finding shelter outside, under a cold, white blanket. This post about that unique below-the-snow spot, called the subnivium, originally ran in […]

The Lady and Le Guin

Late last month, I got to camp with a group of ecologists at the base of Mt. St. Helens, in southwestern Washington state. Some of the scientists had been studying the mountain since shortly after it erupted on May 18, 1980, and they were full of stories about the changes they’d seen over the past thirty-five […]

On the Trail of the Great Tinamou

Three years ago, I spent a while in the rainforest of Panama, for a story. It’s one of those swashbuckling freelancer stories, except—like so many of those—it’s not all that swashbuckling when you get down to the details. I was an hour’s drive (on good roads) from an international airport. I was staying in a […]

Below the Snow

It’s after Memorial Day, so I should be wearing white instead of thinking about the white stuff.  (Although if I were in the Arctic Circle or even in Vermont and New York, where a late-May storm dropped a foot or more in some spots, I might be thinking about snow quite a bit). Even when […]

Guest Post: Stranger on the Porch

Last week my little black dog wandered off into the sloping hillside behind our Colorado home. Fifteen years old, deaf and suffering from congestive heart failure, she appeared to have succumbed to some primordial call to return to the wilderness to die. She didn’t have far to go. My husband and I live in the […]