Category: Nature

A Lesson from the Garden

Of all the vegetables a gentleman farmer cultivates, tomatoes may be the easiest to grow organically. Aside from onions, indestructible optimists who require virtually no care whatsoever, tomatoes seem to provide the organic gardener with the highest success rate, the best fruit-to-labor ratio. They’re vines, and, like most vines, if they’re left to their own...

Boom and Bust

The snowshoe hare, a long-eared cutie at the bottom of the Arctic food chain, roams the 6 million acres of Alaska’s Denali National Park, eating the bark off of spruce saplings with the voracity of locusts. When the rabbits (and the squirrels, and the picas, and all the other little critters that provide sustenance for...

Poem: The Tree Regarding Himself

If there is nothing so lovely as a tree, what, in idle moments,  Does a tree gaze upon for pleasure?  The bird, yellow and daft?  The squirrel, dancing from trunk to branch, a ballerina on the bark?   Modesty, Mommy Nature says, is our greatest virtue. Recognize how small and insignificant your roots and branches and...

Learning from the Fires

Thanks to weather that’s more or less perfect year-round, not to mention the best looking waiters in the world, Southern California is a place where many people want to live. Probably too many. Even with the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage industry and foreclosures on the rise, LA and San Diego County still have some...

A Modest Proposal for Saving the Planet

Unless you’re from Oklahoma, a state whose citizens managed to elect (and re-elect) Senator James Inhofe, protector of oil concerns and denier of global warming — which, in a statement that brought relief to the world’s great religions, he deemed the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated upon the American people” — you probably understand that we’re...

Nature Hike

When I was a boy growing up in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin, my schoolteacher mother would periodically and without warning announce to me and my brother that she was taking us on a “nature hike.” This typically meant that we would be conscripted into a platoon of wildlife observers and botanists prepared to witness the wonders...

Poem: On Being a Bolivian Monkey

Rain that slickens the sturdy palm,  fruits that aren’t yet ripe,  Harpy eagles intent on digging talons and razor beak into  simian livers — these are the concerns of a brown capucin, dancing in the canopy, high above the mud of Pachamama, who bequeathed the trees and  everything else  to those who dare to climb ...

Anthropomorphism

Being a dog owner, I understand completely the impulse to anthropomorphize our pets, imbuing them with human traits that canines and felines — and goldfish and hamsters and salamanders — don’t really have. Our furry (or scaly) friends seem so much more than mere animals. They’re companions and confessors, students and teachers, and they magically...

Poem: The Tomato

Evidence of an unwanted visitor: hunks of green flesh missing; pockmarks and scrapes, like the residuals from a Bad case of acne; Ants crawling inside the formerly impenetrable husk. The tomato has been breached, Probably by a rat Or maybe a bird, an enterprising finch, who pecked and poked and discovered that the emerald fruit...

Poem: Marine Layer

To the residents of far away precincts, in states where a vote for staunch defenders of the Holy Cross means one extra ticket to the carnival of Heaven, the shroud of velvet mist represents a shroud, like the one in Turin. Fog equals ennui. The sun-baked, though, see the cloud on the ground as a welcome...