Posts tagged "nature"

A Review of Barbara Hurd’s Listening to the Savage: River Notes and Half-Heard Melodies

About half-way through Barbara Hurd’s latest essay collection, Listening to the Savage: River Notes and Half-Heard Melodies, I find myself splayed across a granite boulder in the middle of the small river that runs through my backyard in rural Vermont. Obviously, I am listening for crayfish. An avid river watcher, I confess that until reading...
Timberline

Timberline

Here on the edge of timberline, boulders brace the sky. The slope slips ridge by ridge, rippling toward foothills far below. Forests flock the dark, layered and deepening into the thick of it, fringed with light. We are all emigrants in this wilderness that is not, settled centuries ago as migrations followed straights north and...
Bear Fragments

Bear Fragments

1.  In the High Sierra, her first time sleeping in a tent, my friend Pilar from Barcelona is terrified. She is afraid of bears. She wipes toothpaste from the corners of her mouth, tucks her hair into the hood of her sleeping bag, and cinches it against cool alpine air. She stares at the nylon...

A Review of Patrice Vecchione’s Step into Nature: Nurturing Imagination and Spirit in Everyday Life

Patrice Vecchione has experience prompting writers, whether university students, community members, or elementary school students. Over the years, though, she has noticed a shifting relationship among them to the imagination. Individuals who used to respond to going outside to look at the clouds with descriptions of “elephants parading, a dragon biting its own tail, a...
A Brief Atmospheric Future

A Brief Atmospheric Future

If we’re to believe the neuroscientist Professor Marcus Pembrey, from University College London, who concluded that “Behaviour can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory…phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders… [even] sensitivity to [a] cherry blossom scent…” then the pigeon knows of its ancestors’...
Necrologies: Mothers & Fathers

Necrologies: Mothers & Fathers

BROWN RAT We only lived in the little house for three years. I still slept in a crib and watched Sesame Street while my mother did calisthenics. I do not remember eating or sleeping there. I don’t remember what the yard looked like. I do not remember my father’s shape as he moved through the...
A Brief History of Water

A Brief History of Water

Last Sunday a displaced water snake interrupted our nightly walk. My beloved and I watched it roil under the street light, metallic in its shimmers. Overhead, a companionable moon, which can move seven-tenths of the earth’s surface without lifting a finger. Also overhead but not so far away, the firmament, which possesses a simple job...
Seascape with Eagle, Driftwood, Ravens, Seagull, Two Men and Their Phones

Seascape with Eagle, Driftwood, Ravens, Seagull, Two Men and Their Phones

The ravens look miniature compared to the eagle crouched in the crook of driftwood tree, tearing a seagull to shreds. Think beach bone, skeleton perch. Think rock, tide-worn. The man I watch watches the eagle, ignoring the ravens and the breeze at the back of his neck until he can’t, and pulls his hoodie over...
On Writing as an Act of Living: An Interview with Terry Tempest Williams

On Writing as an Act of Living: An Interview with Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest Williams is the author of fourteen books. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, her works include the environmental literature classic Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, and most recently, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice. Williams is the recipient of the...

The Gatekeeper

The Mountain Climber didn’t like to talk about the accident, but because she alone had witnessed the Skier fall off the top of the world, the press had no one else to turn to. What could she say? Without a word of warning, the Skier had plunged past her through the thin, alpine air and...

Dogs in the Dark

I lie in bed, breath suspended. In the darkness, something is moving. It’s not that I don’t know the source of the noise–it’s that I do. My border collie mix is just making his watchdog rounds, checking each room, working the graveyard shift. His job for fifteen years. Only for the last year Cal’s rhythm...

The Drowning

In July a boy drowns in the lake. * There is a picture window above our kitchen table and through it a view of the lake.  At noon, when we sit to eat sandwiches, the water is glassy and green, fracturing only when unseen fish rise and retreat.  The sand on the shore is pale. ...

The Moth

At night my father and I sit outside watching moths fly around the bare front door light. Beyond the porch is the warm summer blackness of the mountains. Lights from the infrequent cars on the highway can’t penetrate this envelope of darkness, as if the entire universe were lit by this one dangling bulb. For...

Things That Appear Ugly Or Troubling But Upon Closer Inspection Are Beautiful

(after Sei Shonagon) A river in winter with ice floes jammed violently against one another; you can see dark water in between the white and gray floes, sparkling in the sunshine. Abandoned barns, their huge roofs sagging like the backs of tired horses. The slick, black body of a baby goat, stillborn, lying in the...

On My Birthday, A Wish for My Mother

Over these still-unlit Colorado foothills, I watch a single cloud build like breath, an enormous pink wing buoyed by a sun that has not yet touched the valley floor to coax ravens into air, or turn creek water to fire, or hammer gold bars from the dull blades of my backyard windmill. The cloud glows...

Instincts

I’m with my family on an isolated stretch of the Metolius River in Oregon. Lush vegetation clings to the bank, ferns and clover and elephant grass, willow trees and aspens, but the air hangs hot and dry. Insects burr. A woodpecker taps like a slow metronome. This is before my parents’ divorce, so we’re all...

The Potato Harvest

This is the morning that summer ends. In one hard frost our garden has become an abandoned battlefield, the last vestiges of the living lay stiff and frozen, black wilted zucchini leaves like limp umbrellas stand as pathetic monuments, tattered flags, over what was, only yesterday, a vegetable garden. Potatoes love one heavy frost. It...

Duck, North Carolina

Once, walking, I found on the sand not a butterflied clam but a small tooth. We have been coming here so long that we can point out where the road used to end, though we differ: some say the fish hut, others the rental shack. Pretty soon there will be a baby, eating great fistfuls...