I have a special interest in the removal of the Klamath River dams: my grandfather helped build them. And I am delighted to see them come down after decades of advocacy launched by the Yurok and Karuk Tribes. When the salmon return to the river this fall, they will find 400 miles of free-flowing habitat for the first time in over a century.
While my songlines stretched out once again in 2023, I’m ending the year where I started: in “a world of emerald fluff.” As soon as the late autumn rains fall in the forests I live among, the vast swaths of moss, dormant in the long dry season, uncurl, fluff out, and turn a vivid green. …
I am a native of the northeastern United States, where spectacular fall color is the rule. After a few years of living in the profound all-year green of coastal northern California, I asked a friend where to go to find color. To the eastern Sierra Nevada, she said, so off we went. It was glorious. This yearly gold rush is a gift of many forces meeting — every one of them a wonder in itself.
We evolved on a planet filled with winged creatures. Soaring above us, buzzing around us, filling our air, inspiring us. They pull our eyes and minds upward. Their colors dazzle us. Our ears have been attuned and our souls elated by their songs. They are messengers of life, industry, mortality, mystery.
The way Earth tosses beauty about fascinates me. She doesn’t save splendor only for grand vistas and awe-inspiring mysteries. She spreads it at our feet the minute we leave the pavement we are so attached to. She invites us to pay deep attention, often to the smallest of treasures. She strews exquisite mariposa lilies in the unlikeliest of places.
The ability to center ourselves among the beauties of this challenging, whirling world is one of the greatest gifts of Earth. This is not superficial beauty, as pleasant as that is, especially for flowers. This is the beauty lying deep in the heart of creation. Beauty as energy, generativity, as the endless cycle of life, death, rebirth. Beauty as the slow evolutionary dance of function and form. As healing, exaltation, and inspiration.
It turns out that heaven is relatively easy to find, just into Canada north of the Montana border. At the end of a beautiful drive through the prairies of southwestern Alberta, you arrive at the gates. Not pearly, as one was led to expect. Instead, the rather odd Tudor/rustic combination favored by Parks Canada. This …
What we do with our land, however small an area, matters not just to us, but to the life of our planet. Landscaping isn’t a static, visual element but an active participant in the world we create. It can foster healthy soil and air or drench it with chemicals. Clean water as it filters through healthy soil or send it laden with toxic compounds to underground aquifers or nearby waters.
Most importantly, it can help save birds, butterflies, and other living beings from extinction.
North American history is beaver history. Before the European fur trade took hold in the 1600s, the entire continent was one mesh of wetlands after another thanks to at least 7.3 million years of landscape management by hundreds of millions of beavers.
Earth’s consummate water engineers, beavers had it all figured out. And we are now enlisting them to figure it out for us.