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Living and Writing in the Natural World

Spring Gardens I have Known

“And now that’s done,” as Blind Pew said to Billy Bones. No, I haven’t been distributing black spots. Today I got the garden planted, and it feels good, aching knees and all. One and a half planting beds of tomatoes, weighted heavily to Early Girls; half a bed of basil; and three rows of okra. For me, my annual garden is, as they say of second marriages, the triumph of hope over experience.  Read More 
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Celebrating St. John's Birthday

April 21, this coming Sunday, is the birthday of John Muir. Appropriately enough, the next day is Earth Day. Muir, called the father of the American environmental movement, gave us two great gifts. First, he taught us that time in the natural world heals humans by connecting us to our roots. And second, he initiated  Read More 
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Washington, Jefferson, Madison: Founding Gardeners

We often assume that the environmental movement in America began with Henry David Thoreau and John Muir in the latter half of the 19th century, but a recent (2011) book by English author Andrea Wulf shows that the roots go further back—to Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison, in fact.  Read More 
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Only the rain abides

I awoke night before last, sometime after midnight, the sound of spring rain pulling me up to consciousness—to a sleeper, it’s more of an echo or a vibration than anything, but I know it and it draws me. I got up and opened our bedroom sliding glass door and drank it in. The full sound now, composed of the rain hitting both the roof and the trees outside; and best of all the sweet smell of rain, not as pronounced tonight as I’ve smelled before, but still there, clean and intriguing.
Back in bed, I lay listening and smelling, the night “far too precious for sleep,” as Li Po said. Another poem came to mind,  Read More 
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