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Living and Writing in the Natural World

Huck Finn in California

As I bicycled under the arched Valley Oak trees in the park yesterday, watching the gold and russet leaves twirling to the ground, I felt like a boy on an adventure. The seasons are changing, and I was abroad navigating the changing world. The child-like sense of wonder is one of the most precious gifts we receive as we move through the natural world. Certainly John Muir was sensitive to this wonder, and nothing better illustrates this than his incredible adventures in the fall of 1877. Read More 
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What Muir Knew and We've Forgotten

Sticks, hat, and 40 pounds of trouble

As my wife accompanied me on morning walks preparing me for an upcoming backpacking trip this summer, I entertained us by singing a boyhood song, heard on TV’s Lawrence Welk show (yes, I’m that old): “I love to go a-wandering, my knapsack on my back. And when I go a-wandering, this is the song I sing: fol-do-ral, fol-do-ree, fol-do–" Well, you get the idea, and maybe even know the song. During the actual trip, I had occasion to be reminded of one very crucial word of that song, much to my dismay.  Read More 

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The magic of the night

First the owl—probably a great-horned—whooshing over the car in the darkness. Then an opossum on the side of the road, debating between irrigation ditch and asphalt as I bore down on him. By the time the young black-tailed jackrabbit loped across the road, I was remembering a lifetime of night-time adventures in the natural world, and the magical spells often accompanying these dark moments. Read More 
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Coming of Age, for all Ages

It was billed as a “coming of age” ceremony for Kai, but it turned out to be a reminder for any age (and gender) of what it means to be a human. We gathered—the father/son hike gang, but other friends of Kai and his dad Richard as well—at the Headwaters Outdoors School (HWOS) at the base of Mt. Shasta. Think of Lothlorien, but in northern California.  Read More 
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