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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Summer Field Moment

I was out running yesterday and there was a cushion of sound, a papery hum, that accompanied me for a long stretch. At first I thought it was the standard ambient noise of my run: a bit of mountain wind, shards of birdsong, maybe an underlying rush of water from the creek in the middle…

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Root Migration

What do a rare high-altitude Alpine snow flower and a sturdy South African cousin of the daisy have in common? They aren’t related, they look nothing like one another, and they are natives to completely different habitats in different parts of the world. But over the past few years, they have both been on the…

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All Abuzz

A friend challenged me to take nature photos for a week, and it resulted in several very nice shots of our garden, if I do say so myself. But one of the most enjoyable aspects of the exercise took place when I went to take pictures of the two lavender bushes in front of our…

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Pieces in the Mosaic

Over the past few decades, we’ve grown used to campaigns imploring us to save one animal or another. Usually the photogenic or impressive species. Save The Whale, Save The Panda, and so on. Shortly after the United States’ Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, a case came along about a modest creature, the Tennessee…

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Failed Elver Balance

As the season comes to an end for harvesting the young American eel known as elver, I thought I would revisit a topic I’ve often written about on ChampagneWhisky. The American eel was once a remarkably abundant marine animal along the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada. Along with its close cousins, the…

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Feeling the Spin

When I was a kid, I used to lie on my back in Golden Gate Park, or on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, or in the meadows of the Marin Headlands, and feel the Earth turn. I remember the feeling, spinning backwards (always backwards) through space. We hadn’t yet seen the images of the Earth…

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Waste Not

Many years ago, I was on vacation on a small Caribbean island. The hotel was new, and a man from one of the neighboring rooms found out just how new when he turned on the bathroom faucet, only to have the water run from the sink straight on to his feet. The drainpipe hadn’t been…

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Felling Heritage

People used to intimately know places like the¬†Bialowieza Forest, the last primeval forest in Europe, the wild places that made us what we are. Now these place are relegated to small corners. They mainly inhabit our stories, little bits of baggage we carry with our culture through the millennia. Spanning the border between Poland and…

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