Telling Tales

The Białowieża Forest in Poland is still the kind of place, one of the last in Europe, which looks like it is truly straight out of a fairy tale. And when European fairy tales were being written about forests in all their vast complexity, forests still looked like Białowieża Forest. Several months ago, I wrote…

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Built To Last

When the house I live in was built, Leonardo da Vinci was a young man with the Mona Lisa still in his future, and Michelangelo was a toddler. The first part of our house, a small fortified tower in rural France, was built in 1478. When the stones were laid for the tower, Christopher Columbus hadn’t…

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One-Note Wonder

Historical recordings of bird song help identify a new species by its unique vocalization.

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Garden of Extinction

A botanical garden in Cape Town, South Africa, is devoted to plants that no longer exist in the wild. A reminder and warning sign of what we stand to lose forever.

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Left To Its Own Design

Five weeks is an eternity in summer gardening, and five weeks is how long I neglected the garden because of an injury. At some point, I stopped going out there because I couldn’t stop myself from trying to weed and clip, even when every movement was painful. Easier just to watch it from a distance…

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Lessons in Listening

For the first time in its 59-year history, the Australian Science Teachers Association’s (STAWA) Secondary School of the Year award, an annual prize handed out in Western Australia, went to a school outside of Perth. That kind of anomaly deserves a second look. The school that won the award for science research is the Christian…

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Late to the Harvest

Many years ago, the small daughter of some friends surprised us all at Christmas by taking a single bite from the hidden side of each perfect apple her parents’ had hung on the tree. Just a single bite that didn’t show from the front, but which quickly withered each apple. I thought of those secretly…

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A Murder, A Charm, A Gulp

A Murder It must be confusing for wild animals when humans constantly grow so much tasty food, only to try and keep it all to themselves. I see it in my own garden when the various fruits become ripe. All the birds I’ve fed through the winter are suddenly competition for my harvest in summer…

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Common Beauty in the Margins

I was on a walk yesterday around my running path – a walk, not a run, due to a tumble taken on a mountain hike, and two damaged wrists. One broken, one sprained; a full cast and a metallic brace. It’s slowed me down, but at least I can move my fingers and still type.…

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It’s A Hot One

The little digital thermometer on my window here in south-eastern France read 50.1°C (122.2°F) yesterday. Today it’s even higher. Not that the outside air is really that hot. It’s just the sun heating the glass of the window to that searing temperature. Until I get around to moving the thermometer to a location that offers…

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