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Back in October, before winter had taken an early grip on the Chicago region, my students and I took a canoe ride on the North Branch of the Chicago River between Argyle Street and Montrose Avenue. We paddled through the flotsam and refuse of human life—miscellaneous garbage bobbing on the surface; chunks of wood and ... Read More »
Each year, I eagerly anticipate spotting the first rabbit of spring. It’s a sign of all that’s to come—warmer weather, longer days, outdoor swims, and seeing approximately 23,237 more rabbits. In years past, this aforementioned first rabbit was often spotted while I was in the company of my mother on one of our walks. ... Read More »
Not long ago, I attended the ordination service of a former roommate and long-time friend. The event was a formal way to confirm—with song and sermon and ritual—the “call” he had received to be a minister. (And to acknowledge the hoops he had to jump through to get there; this being a Presbyterian service, there ... Read More »
Is nature better off if we leave it alone? Or should we be good stewards? Does ecological restoration involve too much meddling and coddling? Before I hazard my answer, let me lay out the full list of pamperings that we conservationists have performed for the white-fringed prairie orchid and its Somme Prairie Grove habitat, ... Read More »
When my boss returned from a successful urban wildlife workshop in Berlin with a save-the-date video, I began thinking about the power of a global gathering of conservation minds. The video offered an inspiring challenge to “Make the World a Wilder Place,” and I immediately added it as a tagline to my email ... Read More »
In 1902 Robert Lloyd Praeger, the prolific Irish naturalist, recorded a new occurrence of the rare grass Milium effusum (wood millet) in Dublin. He discovered it in Bushy Park, which was adjacent to his home on Zion Road in Rathgar, a few miles south of the city center. This was the park where more than ... Read More »
The end of October has long been my least favorite time of year. It brings the end of baseball, which has been my constant companion since spring. The end of summer is mitigated by autumn, but the end of autumn—seen out here in Chicago by chilly rains and gusting winds—offers no such consolations. October’s close ... Read More »
As writers we often don’t choose our subjects; rather, our subjects speak to us. Over the last decade, animals have preoccupied my imagination. While assembling my most recent book of poetry, Bestiary (Red Hen Press, 2009), I realized that animals, almost by accident, inhabited many pages of the volume. I was fascinated by ... Read More »
It all started about 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago. It might have been a Thursday. A bit of cyanobacteria, otherwise known as blue-green algae, began converting sunlight into food for survival.
Organisms have historically addressed challenges by adapting, cooperating, competing, and forming communities of ever greater genius and diversity up through our habitats today. Neighborhoods could ... Read More »
Not too long ago this summer, not too far from Chicago, on property I visit often, I was sitting on the grass outside a long-empty timber frame barn on a cloudy afternoon, watching the barn swallows. Some friends of mine were looking around inside, so the swallows didn’t go in. They’d fly ... Read More »