The ghost-presence of John Muir

John Muir is widely viewed as the father of the national park system in the United States. A conservationist, naturalist and writer in the late-nineteenth and early 20th centuries, he was most at home in places where trees outnumbered people. Muir is best-known for his successful effort to save Yosemite National Park from development, and… Read more »

The Generosity of Moss

During a recent writing sabbatical in Seattle, Washington, I spent many hours wandering the streets around Capitol Hill. Within this cultured environment of heritage homes and mature gardens spreads an unobtrusive, still-wild landscape of moss. Fed by the rainy climate, moss softens the hard angles of a staircase. It transforms rock walls into verdant mountains…. Read more »

Leaf harmonics at Harrop Creek

The 19th century mathematician Jules Henri Poincaré was also a physicist, engineer and philosopher, aptly qualifying him to be a polymath, someone who knows a lot about many and varied things. In his writings, Poincaré spoke of a form of beauty that he believed to be more profound than that which strikes the senses. This… Read more »

Planting Seeds

Redfish Creek flows into the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, close to where I live. This aptly named creek has long been a spawning grounds for the region’s kokanee, a sockeye species identical to the ocean version, except that it adapted to live in freshwater only when it was stranded here long ago by melting… Read more »

Thank you, Mr. Sun

Today is the longest of the year in the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice. When I stepped out onto my deck, a small sun greeted me in the form of a Zinnia flower. I have been watching it for several days as it tried to open its bright face to the world. What a perfect… Read more »

The Howling Wolf Moon

The moon is full today. I woke early to its light spilling in through La Tortue’s side window. Dellie was happy to rush down to the beach with me to watch the moon set in the west, just as the sun rose in the east. These moments of alignment — when sun-and-moon, yin-and-yang, and light-and-dark… Read more »

Reversing Rivers and the mystery of Cones

Near the end of 2016, I rolled La Tortue into a nearly deserted campground at the mouth of San Simeon Creek, near Cambria, on the central coast of California. Surrounded by the undeveloped landscape of the Hearst Ranch, this place harkens back to a long-ago sort of California: uncrowded, more sparsely populated and filled with… Read more »

How I do love you, Nelson

This week, I interrupted my coastal California research to rush home to Nelson, B.C., where I received the honour of Cultural Ambassador for 2017.  It was a rude climatic shift – from 60 f. to 0 f. (about 15 c. to -12 c.!)  It was also a reminder of the wonder and beauty of the… Read more »

Exploring the Chaparral

The ranch where my mom grew up backs onto Los Padres National Forest, nearly two million acres of oak, pine, redwood and chaparral, stretching from near Santa Barbara to Big Sur.  While these mountains are older and softer than the recently glaciated peaks of my home in Nelson, British Columbia, they offer abundant beauty and… Read more »

Shifting Sands

Winter has chased me south to the Pacific Coast near Los Angeles as 2016 draws to a close.  Here, I encounter the bright light etched across my childhood memories.  Everything looks bleached and a little faded, except for the magical bougainvillia vine, spilling magenta and blood red blooms across chain-link fences and cement walls. On… Read more »

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