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Imagine a bird shaped a bit like a mourning dove but much larger, slate blue on the back, salmon pink on the breast, with an opalescent necklace of green and rose. The bird lived in flocks so large they would darken the sky, sometimes for three days, as they passed overhead. Their wing beats were ... Read More »
There’s a smudge on the floor of the porch below the plate glass window. I suspect what the smudge might be, but don’t want to think about that. I’m home from a long day of work so I pull bills and magazines out of the mailbox and rummage through my small brown purse for my ... Read More »
Could the act of looking at animals be part of a larger search for connection with something beyond ourselves, beyond our humanness—an attempt to connect with the mystery that nature inspires, even when this experience is heavily mediated? Why do so many people want to look at animals? Why do we defend or implicitly support the ... Read More »
Am I the only person who apologizes to worms? To the small creatures that make their homes in soil, a gardener must seem like Godzilla galumphing through Tokyo, bringing destruction with every scoop of the trowel or scrape of the hoe. I find myself asking forgiveness of spiders, centipedes, and everything that crawls, slithers, or ... Read More »
“Your God damn rivers,” he said at one point, “ain’t got no God damn water in them most of the God damn time.” (John Graves, “Kindred Spirits” in A John Graves Reader, p. 188)
Clear Creek is not the kind of stream most people would think to paddle. There are no designated ... Read More »
A line of people curves like the body of a giant caterpillar, twisting up the mountain into the endangered oyamel fir forest. Michoacán, Mexico—the cloud-misted overwintering site of the monarch butterfly. Near the middle of the caterpillar of people, I kept pace, thinking about Catholic peregrinos who journey on well-worn footpaths and roads, ... Read More »
Lying in my bed late into the night, if I hold my body still and concentrate, I can hear the waves of Lake Michigan. I wait for the El to pass, listen to the rumbling wheels give way to the echo of the surf, its sigh and heave, bouncing up into my window from the ... Read More »
Having gotten hopelessly lost on my way to the post office in my new Chicago neighborhood last week, a state from which even the smart phone’s smartness failed to deliver me, I stumbled across a community garden on the grounds of a public school. There were goldfinches, which I enjoy on account of their ... Read More »
Plutarch wrote that “the vulture is a rare sight, and it is not easy to come upon a vulture’s young.” From ancient Greece to modern-day Chicago, at least that one thing has not changed.
I once found the meaning of life in a seedy Chicago bar, in a worn medical dictionary someone had left on the counter (to settle arguments, maybe). In the very first paragraphs, it defined “life” in such lucid, coolly elegant prose it seemed like the actual meaning of life—especially after a couple of IPAs. I’ve ... Read More »