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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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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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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Dusk Reflection

​​​It’s been a long week of heat. A massive storm blew through, the crashing wave of a  weather front, flooding streets and downing branches in just a few minutes. It feels like the weather is echoing current events. Now, at least, a bit of evening quietude as the thunder moves on down the road, leaving…

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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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Swift Moment

A cloudless evening and the shrill cries of a small group of European swifts on an evening hunt for insects. A summer concert told in sharp notes. The swift has a wide range and enough numbers to be merit a population status of Least Concern from the IUCN. Considering the slow but persistent declines in…

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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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Cartography of Extremes

Maybe it’s the instinctual part of humans that makes us obsessed with the biggest, the strongest, the highest, the illustrious measurements that dazzle. Whether it’s the highest mountain, the broadest lake, the longest river, we look for inspiration in extremes. Whether it’s justified or not, we do the same in societies. The biggest economies, the…

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