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Living and Writing in the Natural World

Peaches, Thomas Jefferson, and Xi Wang Mu

Inside the cup: peaches of immortality

Every summer about this time I come to the same conclusion about peaches as Ben Franklin reportedly did about beer: “Beer is a sign that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Indeed, though for me it’s peaches rather than beer. You’d think after over a month of peaches on my oatmeal, on my pancakes, over ice yogurt, and overwhelmingly just eaten straight, the juice dribbling down my chin—you’d think I’d be tired of peaches. You’d be wrong. , Read More 

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Stranger than We Think

Fueling up for the journey north

I saw another monarch butterfly last week, and it set me thinking about some of the incredible things non-human animals do, and what it shows about the place of humans in the cosmos.

This monarch was probably the second in a chain of four or five generations of these butterflies, a saga that starts in their overwintering home (in Pacific Grove, California; another locus is northern Mexico). Beginning each spring,  Read More 

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How I Escaped a Chinese Dungeon

While researching exotic locales for scenes in my novels is one of the best parts of being a writer, it sometimes involves privation and discomfort, not to mention the occasional threat of incarceration. I came within a hair’s breadth of being arrested in Beijing in the spring of 1984, for example.  Read More 
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Night skies and Sunny creeks

One thing that John Muir and Lao Tze agree on is that you’ve got to spend time outdoors. Connecting up with “Godful nature” or “the flow of the Tao” is critical, each claims, to maintaining the health and sanity of humans. Being in the natural world is its own reward, of course. I do it mainly because it makes me feel super, which is more important than even St. John or Sage Lao recommending it. This summer, I’ve been doing it a bit differently—more sky than creek.  Read More 
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