I’m trying to figure out why this story on the extreme sport of yak skiing appeals so much today. It’s certainly not the sport itself; I have no desire to be towed uphill by a yak racing downhill….
Funny to arrive in Arizona in early April for a much-anticipated break from tree-rich Oregon and take pictures of trees. But how could I resist these?
My love for cottonwoods has grown steadily over the last few years, especially in the spring when they smell so pungent and the fall when they splash yellow along the canyon bottoms. And now, I must confess, a movie — and a Western, at that — has inspired me to explore the beauty and poetry in winter cottonwoods….
Yes, I know my posting has been sparse. This winter, I’ve been a hibernating bear, slowing down and gathering my forces for the next season. I’m still working on my memoir, Sacred Threads. I’ve finished a rough draft of the entire book and am now polishing, pruning, making sure all the parts fit together. It […]
A post-Thanksgiving walk through fog, rain, and slushy snow on the edge of the Opal Creek Recreation Area in the Cascade Foothills:
Out West, in the land of conifers, we don’t have the color spectacle that blesses New England this time of year. But our few wild deciduous shrubs and trees do add some lovely accents to our evergreen forests and browning grasslands (…)
Elderberries are blooming in northeastern Oregon….
Tomorrow, we drive to NE Oregon to spend a week or so in our yurt (and a few other places). The creature I fear most on this trip is not the cougar, wolf or porcupine. It’s much smaller. Most females and the younger males of the species could fit into the palm of my hand….
The calls and whistles (listen below) of the American pika (Ochotona princeps) are one of the delights of hiking into remote alpine areas — and such a refreshing escape from the noise of daily news, courtroom dramas, and political debates. Now the tiny rabbit relative may unwittingly generate press releases, research reports and legal briefs higher than its hay piles….
I’m still celebrating the publication of my first poem in the High Desert Journal and its subject matter — cows. So perhaps now is a good time to share a shaggier bovine fantasy I’ve been nursing over the last few years….
I’ve spent most of my life among Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga sp.) Although I love other trees and plant communities, Douglas fir forests still speak to me of home. In the Pacific Northwest, they’re ubiquitous from the Cascades to the coast. Douglas fir and other conifers of the region are why I’ve never felt at ease in the deciduous forests of eastern North America (as lovely as they are), where bare branches in winter make me especially homesick….
During the cold holiday season, I find myself remembering trips to tropical waters and the species I’ve encountered there. I may write about sea turtles, reef sharks, octopus, and triggerfish in the future, but it’s the spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) that have been on my mind this past week….
It was hard to leave our yurt in northeastern Oregon with Western larch (Larix occidentalis) in full copper-yellow glory. But when the flanks of the mountains there blaze with what looks like a procession of candles, it’s time to get ready for a harsh winter or move to lower elevations….
This time of year, I’m one of many throughout the West enthralled by – and worried about – one of our most striking fall color trees: Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides ). Utah and Colorado have acres and acres of aspens. In northeast Oregon, we have smaller groves dotting the more prevalent bunchgrass slopes and ponderosa […]
On our Northeast Oregon property, we have an old house that’s rotting. It has little historic or architectural value, so we’ve been leaning towards tearing it down. Then my nephew, Gerek, found the bat in the closet….
I first heard the strange noises in late June: whistling squawks that sounded like sea gulls five hundred miles off course. The calls began at sundown every evening and continued throughout the night. I couldn’t imagine what besides an owl would make so much noise after dark. But owls hoot. Right? Couldn’t possibly be owls, I thought….
I had originally planned to post on another species this week. In fact, I have a backlog of species that have been inspiring and distracting me. But rattlesnakes have a way of making themselves heard above the din of all else [...]
One of the things I like about writing regular posts on various species is that it challenges my own tendency to overlook or take for granted species that are common, mundane, or unpopular. Last week, I had the good fortune to take a brief vacation in the high desert country of Central Oregon. I decided it was time to learn more about a plant I see everywhere throughout the Great Basin but know little about: Artemesia tridentata, or sagebrush.
A number of small, brown songbirds have enlivened my spring and early summer on a daily basis. One is the chipping sparrow (Spizella passerina) [...]
In three months of writing this series, I have yet to cover a mammal, or any species with big teeth or claws. So this week, I ponder a mammal with both. It’s the land animal with the largest range in the Americas, from southern Canada to to the southern tip of the Andes: Felis concolor, more commonly known as cougar, mountain lion, catamount, or puma.