"All is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil," Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in 1877, "And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell." Nevertheless, the poet marvels at the natural world's resilience in the face of industrial degradation: And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things... I recalled … Continue reading Nature’s Best Hope: Your Yard and Mine
In these divisive days it’s hard to imagine anything that could get Democrats and Republicans to go for a walk together. But apparently, once a month on Capitol Hill, it happens. I learned this wondrous fact by listening to Bring Birds Back, and if you’d like to know more, I hope you’ll listen to Season … Continue reading Can Birds Rehumanize Red & Blue Politics?
"More than any other kind of wildlife, birds have an almost magical hold on the human imagination: "They are beautiful, vibrantly alive, and everywhere to be seen. They open our eyes to the world of nature. They enrich our spirits with their color, their music, and their wondrous gift of flight." The editors of the … Continue reading The Blessing of Birding by Ear: Tips for Identifying Birds by their Song
Annie Dillard has long been one of my very favorite writers, with Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and An American Childhood among my most beloved books. Dillard leaves me alive and awake, grateful for each feather that falls beneath my back-yard juniper, for the sunrise glow illuminated through spring-snow icicles on the crab apple branches. For … Continue reading Annie Dillard: Silence and Speaking Stones
Wendell Berry--poet, novelist, lover of the land--distills life to its essence, teaching us to value the concrete beauty in the natural world and to question our innumerable ways of wasting days that could be filled with wonder. Wrestling with my own abundant speech and strong need for quiet contemplation, I am drawn to Berry's values … Continue reading The Silence: A Poem By Wendell Berry
Camping and reading intertwine beautifully as pleasures. Many a backpack trip's rocks and ridges meet in my memory with the book I chose to carry. In my twenties, Middle Earth and Narnia leapt alive on hikes with my husband in the mountains west of Denver. Immersed in Tolkien or Lewis, it seemed Legolas or Tumnus … Continue reading The Lab Girl and the Contemplative: A Campsite Convergence