Category : Posts

Absorbing

I’m drawn again and again to Melody Jue‘s talk about kelp, oceans, and how to think like this magical underwater plant. She says that out of every five breaths we take, four of them are thanks to kelp. And she quotes Sylvia Earle: the planet’s lungs are blue.


Webs

Tonight Myron and I watched a spider as we ate dinner, the art and skill was beautiful, and Myron said it might be fun to be a spider. It would be better than an ant, he said. You could just do your own thing instead of being trampled in a community hill. When the spider finished, he cleaned his legs and rested in the center and the wind blew a little, like a lullaby.

 


Guitarist

Walking alone in the dark. So I headed into town instead of out, past the overfull creek, the old railroad ties, the new hospital. I ended the night at One World Cafe, hardly a soul in the place, but a guitarist playing something light and soothing. I sipped peppermint tea, listened for a while, then headed out into the dark, cold spring warmed by tea and music.

 


Sled Dogs

Sled dogs have their own houses in Ilulissat, Greenland. One day last summer, I walked along the outskirts of town toward the Kangia Icefjord, the stench of urine and matted fur. The puppies run free, while the adult dogs fight against their chains, crying for seal meat, for freedom, for snow, for love. Listen, you can hear them even now.

 









Sunshine Road

Bill Chipman Trail.
Bill Chipman Trail. (photo credit)

Two bicycles were laying on the Moscow-Pullman bike path near Sunshine Road. I was worried. A black mountain bike, it seemed, had collided with a blue road bike and the two had fallen in a scene of violence. Wheels cranked in odd directions. Seats twisted toward the ground. There’s something tragic about the sight of a bicycle mangled on asphalt. As I rounded the corner, I saw the bikes belonged to a couple. It had been no wreck; the bikes had been placed there on purpose. The couple sat on a cedar bench bolted to the edge of the path, knees bent toward one another. Their helmeted heads touched. Their shoulders seemed welded together. They were squinting at something plucked from the natural world, something green–a blade of grass, maybe, or a flower. As I passed, they looked up and nodded, as if acknowledging my humanity.

Political news has overwhelmed the week. I cherish these small and unexpected moments.


Literature, Science, and Exploration

"Literature, Science and Exploration," Cambridge 2004.
Literature, Science and Exploration,” Cambridge 2004, 2007.

In 1768, Captain James Cook made the most important scientific voyage of the eighteenth century. He was not alone: scores of explorers like Cook, travelling in the name of science, brought new worlds and new peoples within the horizon of European knowledge for the first time. Their discoveries changed the course of science. Old scientific disciplines, such as astronomy and botany, were transformed; new ones, like craniology and comparative anatomy, were brought into being. Scientific disciplines, in turn, pushed literature of the period towards new subjects, forms and styles. Works as diverse as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Wordsworth’s Excursion responded to the explorers’ and scientists’ latest discoveries. This wide-ranging and well-illustrated study shows how literary Romanticism arose partly in response to science’s appropriation of explorers’ encounters with foreign people and places and how it, in turn, changed the profile of science and exploration. This book, co-written with Tim Fulford and Peter J. Kitson and published by Cambridge University Press, looks at the intricate network of forces that shaped literature and science in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Read a review in Humanities and Social Sciences.