“My daughter wants to hear you speak Chinese,” said the Polish father on my right at the dinner table of White Wolf Lodge, some ten miles southeast of the point where the Tuolumne river is dammed to form the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park. The 12-year-old’s bright eyes widened as I spouted bromides in the exotic language. My wife Tammy and I were in the Yosemite high country this past week, and the people we met there were as delightful as the mountains and streams. Read More
Living and Writing in the Natural World
As I was scrambling down the ten-foot bank to my current favorite swimming hole in Chico Creek, I noticed some writing on the trunk of the white alder which I use to steady myself as I step into the creek. Vandalism? Arriving at the tree, I saw what was written on the smooth, grey trunk: “Paradise.” And I understood completely. Read More
Last weekend saw both the Summer Solstice and a full moon. I try to appreciate all the seasons (winter is the hardest), but I gotta admit that summer is my favorite by a country mile. Consider my activities this past weekend: bicycling in the heat wearing swimsuit and Tevas, a swim in Chico Creek mid-route, then the glorious feel of warm air on wet skin as I whirl down the lane afterwards; hearing my kids talk of midnight (well, later than midnight, actually) swims; sitting in the backyard watching the full moon rise through banks of clouds, Read More
If you’re a writer of murder mysteries, you’ve got to love poisons. And if, in your day job, you’re a biologist, then you’re doubly blessed, because nothing tells us more about life than the many bizarre ways creatures have devised to end it. In my (current) two mysteries and a thriller, my villains employ maculotoxin from the blue-ringed octopus, the plant alkaloid aconitine (from monkshood), conotoxin (from cone shells), and tetrodotoxin (from puffer fish). Read More
My son Louie recently described to me a dish at a “very Italian” San Francisco restaurant in which the pasta is dyed black and tastes briny, by application of the contents of the ink sac of a squid. It reminded me of a startling incident when I suddenly had the ink sac of a squid all over my face.
It was at the end of a nice snorkel off Honolulu'sSans Souci beach, Read More