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"Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing" - Victor Hugo

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Touchphone

This spring, I listened to an interview with Tiffany Shlain, whose family has spent the last decade-plus observing a tech Shabbat: turning off all their devices for 24 hours, once a week. Back when her book first came out, in 2019, I might not have been as interested. We were those parents who wouldn’t let their kids on screens during the week. We didn’t...

Snapshot: Dog Day

The big cicada event this year began and was over again before we even got to the Fourth of July. But the annual cicadas are back, just like they always are, singing from the trees. While the 17-year cicadas come in extremely large numbers – that’s kind of their whole thing – the annual cicadas are much subtler. Some years, I don’t even see one. This...

To Make a Renaissance

I‘d been thinking about this forever and wrote it up a while back, on January 17, 2012, back before 2020, before an endless pandemic; an ex-president who can’t give up power and a political reality that amounts to a second Civil War; and the natural disasters of hurricanes, floods, fires, and storms that are the worst in living memory. It’s pretty...

Homeward bound

A couple of days ago, I wrote “homeward bound” with my index finger across the caked dust on the back window of my truck topper. I packed it with two weeks’ worth of clothes, with backpacking gear, with work supplies and dog food and human food. Then, I whistled my dog into the cab and drove east from my apartment in Washington towards Colorado, to...

Days of September 11th

New York City was my forbidden fruit. It didn’t go with my identity as a nature writer, so I kept quiet about these urban forays. Wilderness trips I’d time so I’d get into the thick of humanity as swiftly as possible. After two weeks backpacking in the west end of the Grand Canyon, not using trails but roping and scrambling through shadowy gorges, I...

Portrait of a Marriage

Before you read on, we are pleased and thrilled and absolutely overjoyed to introduce New Person of LWON, Eric Wagner! Eric is a fabulous writer and chaser of birds based in Seattle, Washington, who has written for the likes of The Atlantic, High Country News, Audubon, and Orion. He has penned magazine articles about techy fire lookouts who obsess over...

on resilience

Back when plants were just background noise to me, I assumed bonsai were just like that — tiny trees by nature, just a miniature version of the world’s bigger trees. There are miniature horses and pygmy goats, so why not little trees? Eventually, I learned I was totally wrong, as I am about many things, and that the process of cultivating bonsai is...

Shitty robots and their shitty blog posts

I recently took an ultra-fun workshop run by the Queen of Shitty Robots, Simone Giertz. It’s the second of hers I’ve done, the first being a lightening round of Lego Mindstorm building to create robots that would then be raced against each other over the distance of one meter. This time, we were creating robot artists whose little servomotors would...

The Caldor Fire Donation Center

(A poem for the evacuees. Pete and I are safe.) At the rummage sale at the end of the world, you don’t have to pay for anything. Strangers disgorge their closets for you: Dirty tennis shoes, used underwear, new dresses from Ann Taylor with the tags still attached. You rifle through the clothes, trying to ignore the greasy residue...

Fig of My Imagination

It’s fig season again! This post first ran in October 2019. Now we have a squirrel who I’m competing with to get the ripe ones off our bigger tree. And our little tree? It’s still little, with about six figs and two leafy branches. Maybe I’m imagining it, but the branches seem a little stronger and the leaves a little greener than they were two years...

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