The High Places Made Low

One of the places I stand and ponder in our daily silvan peregrinations is up back, beyond the last extent of floodplain of which our five-acre pastureland is the remainder. Beyond that point, the path skirts high above the rock shelves and tumbling waters of Nameless Creek. What now stands as the high country above […]

On Not Killing Our Environmental Puppies

Yesterday, your neighbor’s yellow lab gave birth to a litter of puppies. Today, the owner has made up his mind to do one of the following: to turn them outdoors to fend for themselves in the heat and take their chances with the traffic; to poison them outright; or to simply ignore their whining there […]

Mountain Lake(less)

Mountain Lake (on Salt Pond Mountain) in Giles County, Virginia, was familiar territory once upon a time. I took five-week-long studies at the UVa Biological Station there in the summers of 1977 and 1978. I have been back a few times since, doing author tables maybe twice. The last time I was there, I think […]

The Fading Faint Colors of Fall

It has not been a spectacular year for fall colors in our part of the Southern Appalachians. The prolonged late-summer drought seems likely to have contributed to the subdued palette, but the alchemy of autumn is a many-splendored mystery with regard to the exact combination of temperature and moisture and sun and wind and plant […]

When The Bottom Falls Out of the Food Web

Most people might think it’s a good thing–that there are demonstrably and significantly fewer insects than there were three decades ago. But consider that these morels are critical links between the primary producers (grasses and other greenery that turns sun into food) and the chain of upper-tier eaters that depend on insect biomass to keep […]

Test-tube Earth: The Anthropocene Experiment

Innoculate, Feed, Wait, Observe We are living in the midst and are each of us part of a great experiment. There is no control group laid out to co-exist on a planet where our species has NOT altered the chemistry of the atmosphere. And so we are destined to jump right to the increasingly-likely CONCLUSION: […]

Snake in the Grass

In eighteen summers on Goose Creek, this is the first rat snake (of scores) that was not black. Most have no hint of a pattern on the dorsal surface; this one does. We’ve transported four snakes to other parts after catching them eating our eggs (well, our hens’ eggs) and then spotted another thirty feet […]