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, […]

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. […]

The Invasivore’s Dilemma

I first encountered lionfish on Carrie Bow Cay, a hurricane-battered scrap of an island 15 miles off the coast of Belize. The rotating crew of biologists on Carrie Bow work hard and play hard, and one popular form of play is lionfish hunting: spearing, cooking, and enthusiastically devouring these stripey fellows on the left. Lionfish […]

A Worm Breeds in Brooklyn

My husband and I often take nighttime walks. On one such walk, I noticed something strange on the ground. It looked like a shiny stick. I leaned in for a closer look and realized I was looking at a long, fat worm. “Is this a worm?” I asked my husband. (I like to ask questions […]

In Search of the Secret Garden

When J. Allen Williams, Jr., was a boy in Chapel Hill, N.C., his mother loved to read the children’s classic The Secret Garden to him and his brother. The story, about an orphaned girl and her friends who restore an abandoned garden on an English estate, led Williams and his brother to dig and plant […]

Into the Big Empty

I grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York State, and went to college in western Oregon — both beautiful places, beloved by many. But I never knew what it was to love a place until I spent a college summer in southern Utah, where I worked as a field tech on a wildlife […]

Evolve or Die

Several years ago, on a soggy but majestic mountain afternoon, I hiked into the Yosemite backcountry to meet UC-Berkeley mammalogist Jim Patton. Patton and his colleagues at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology were retracing the steps of renowned naturalist Joseph Grinnell, who surveyed California’s wildlife early in the last century — and obsessively documented his work in […]