Not the Same Old River

The Appalachian mountains 30,000 feet below resembled a crumpled, dark green blanket. As we flew east, nearing D.C., I looked down upon the gleaming Potomac. I loved that damn river with its tidy banks, neatly lined, and milky brown waters swirling into mesmerizing patterns. The plane crossed the river and turned immediately so its noseContinue reading “Not the Same Old River”

Quick Thoughts on…Handsy Herpers

The wonderful thing about finding reptiles and amphibians in the wild is that they are often slow-moving enough to safely enjoy a satisfying glimpse. So, WHY must so many herpers catch and handle every critter they find? In the wise words of my friend KT Hanson’s herpetologist grandpa, Robert ‘Bob’ Gordon, “Unless it’s roadkill orContinue reading “Quick Thoughts on…Handsy Herpers”

How to Think Like a Mountain

Do mountains actually think? Maybe they just feel. Perhaps they simply know. From Aldo Leopold’s classic essay (read ‘Thinking Like A Mountain’ here) to my current favorites by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (check out her newest book here), nature writing has changed a lot over the years, but there is a common thematic thread: interdependence. The mountainContinue reading “How to Think Like a Mountain”

Quick Thoughts on…Rewilding

What if we don’t need to RE-wild* because we’ve been wild all along? What if we just need to prioritize the wild within and around us? What if we don’t need to RE-connect to nature, but instead better value and prioritize our enduring and existing relationship with nature? *I mean rewilding in the personal, metaphoricalContinue reading “Quick Thoughts on…Rewilding”

Conflict or Coexistence: Why Words Matter

I have a confession: I don’t know WHAT I study. I still struggle to summarize my research in a very basic way because of terminology… Crop-WHAT? Raiding? Feeding? Foraging? Monkeys eat fruit that farmers grow. That’s what I know. Initially I used the term crop-raiding. During interviews, I translated the phrase literally in Bahasa Indonesia:Continue reading “Conflict or Coexistence: Why Words Matter”

Sacrifice, Sapi, and Selamat Lebaran

Selamat Lebaran and Eid Mubarak to all who celebrated yesterday! “Mau lihat?” Do you want to watch? My friends repeated until finally, anxiously, I walked from the porch over the to corral. People and animals around me seemed stressed and excited, stimulated by lots of activity and new smells in the air. In the IslamicContinue reading “Sacrifice, Sapi, and Selamat Lebaran”

Serpents Taken Up: Snake-Handling From the Snake’s Perspective

“Feeling after God is dangerous business,” wrote Dennis Covington in Salvation on Sand Mountain. Dangerous for who, exactly? Years ago, Covington’s remarkable book introduced me to one of the most intriguing human-animal relationships I’ve ever studied. In short, believers “take up serpents,” drink deadly substances, speak in tongues, and follow other signs from Mark 16:17-18.Continue reading “Serpents Taken Up: Snake-Handling From the Snake’s Perspective”

Pawpaw: The Plant, The Person, Home

I learned about pawpaw trees when I moved to West Virginia in 2016. One dry, fall day the Potomac was so shallow I could shuffle over rocks and through knee-deep water from the Mountain State to the Free State and back again. That’s when I tasted pawpaw fruit for the first time. The flavor wasContinue reading “Pawpaw: The Plant, The Person, Home”

The Joy of a Wild Snail Eating: An Animal Encounter Inspired by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

This book is the inspiration for the title of this post, and also for my desire to befriend a snail. I highly recommend both the snail friendship and the book.  Earlier today out on my balcony, I noticed a small snail stuck to our hanging bird decor. I plucked the shell from the wood andContinue reading “The Joy of a Wild Snail Eating: An Animal Encounter Inspired by Elisabeth Tova Bailey”

Nature Book Club: Family Reading List

Choose a theme that interests the whole family. (Themes are listed in alphabetical order.) Choose age-appropriate books within the theme for each family member. (Use the key below to determine genre. Purchase books from your local independent bookstore or support your local library, if possible!) Read, read, read! Use the discussion questions and activity ideasContinue reading “Nature Book Club: Family Reading List”

My Nature Nerd Word Collection

whip-poor-will wool dew mossy cerulean solstice limpkin alula rrrobin rrred brrreast (rrreally rrroll those rrr’s) clouded leopard guppy snapdragon Susquehanna shrew salamander torreya button quail Monongahela guava rhododendron mountain voices birds eye speedwell gingko weaving bobcat elderberry chamomile crawdad fiddlehead willow monkey-puzzle pangolin sassafras sycamore mountain laurel loblolly ginseng juniper chrysanthemum dandylion* mistical Potomac* anhingaContinue reading “My Nature Nerd Word Collection”

Durga’s Tiger: A Goddess and Her Cat

Whew, I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. In my head, it was going to be some kind of palate-cleanser after watching the Netflix series, Tiger King, but I’m not sure what it is. I just knew I needed to write about Durga and her big cat, as I’ve been pondering the conceptContinue reading “Durga’s Tiger: A Goddess and Her Cat”