River time, river tongue

It was a bird of confluences. Nameless, to us. Gray as cloud belly, large as raptor, with eyes streaked over black as if with a stick of charcoal. The first time I saw it, I stood shin deep in the narrow, clear Pitman River, steps away from the line of opaque jade water marking its […]

Redux: Draw Me a Picture of Nature

The literary critic Raymond Williams once wrote that “Nature is perhaps the most complex word in the language.” It’s a head-scratcher right up there with love, or goodness: We depend on it for survival, but we’re often not quite sure where it is, what it is, or whether we’re a part of it. Jessica Mikels-Carrasco, […]

Crackle, Hiss, Pop

March showed up last week, on little cat feet rather than lion paws. A gentle snow jacketed the crocuses before watering their roots. The least patient daffodils opened, heads dipped against any last-ditch icy gusts. Spring’s legs are wobbly, but she’ll find her stride soon enough. Still, at my little cabin in the Virginia woods, […]

Bees Are Us

Early the other morning, I woke up to a strange humming noise. My first thought was the ceiling fan motor was petering out, but it turned out the sound was coming from outside. So I stepped out onto my little balcony for a look, and listen. The hum hummed louder. It took a minute before […]

The Dragons’ Third Stir: the Next Bigge One

In keeping with the brave tradition of gullible, single-source reporting, here’s an astounding science news report.  It ran in the News and Views section of the prestigious journal, Nature, a couple weeks ago, I don’t know how I missed it, and it surely deserved more than the brief flurry of attention it got on Twitter.  […]

Redux: A Dead World at Sunset

This was first published in March of 2011. As winter descends upon the sub-Arctic once more, I revisit these moments of awe on a frozen lake. “It may not strike you as a marvel; it would not, perhaps, unless you were standing in the middle of a dead world at sunset, but that was where […]

Kitchen Catalysts

The other day I was sitting in the bathroom, lamenting the decline of my bathroom reading material. At its zenith, the back of my toilet was heavy with Nature. (I inadvertently impressed one of my grad school classmates, who didn’t know that I thought I was subscribing to a magazine with lots of photos of […]

Fatherhood: Trying to Raise a Tomboy Princess

A while back, I was giving my three-year-old daughter, Brynn, a bath when she laid back in the tub and announced, “Look, Daddy, I’m a princess!” When I asked what that meant, she replied that it was her job to just lounge around until some prince (any prince would do) came along to save her. […]