Nature

The Tao of Tracking

To me, Jim Sullivan seems a combination of Davy Crockett and David Attenborough: A scientist by training. A landscape designer, newspaper columnist, and college instructor by various career twists. An environmental activist, pleine-aire painter, philosopher, author, and drummer by personal passion.  A living legend among the hundreds of tracking students he’s trained. 

read more

The Wantonness of Wildflowers

On a wildflowers hike at the Jenner Headlands Preserve in Northern California, Ranger Jill Adams of the Wildlands Conservancy asks what we expect to find.

“Sex,” a voice calls out. Giggling like school kids, we turn to a small woman in a tan bucket hat and sensible boots. “My father was a botanist,” she explains. “He taught us that when you go into the woods to look for wildflowers in Spring, you’re going to see lots and lots of sex.”

read more

The Lab at the End of the Earth

What drew me to the Lab—what’s always drawn me to certain places—are its stories. From the day I first ventured onto the 616 protected acres owned, leased, or managed by the Reserve, I was intrigued.   Driving  past coastal prairies and dunes, I beheld what looks like a  space colony hunkered on the continent’s rim.

read more

Superpowers of the Tide Pool

Twice a day the Pacific draws back its surf-fringed curtain to reveal a secret world brimming with fantastical creatures that John Steinbeck described as “ferocious with life.”   They have to be. Only the fierce can survive in the harsh borderland between the tide’s highest splash and deepest pools.  In this kingdom claimed by both sea and land, waters rise, waves pummel, predators pursue, and real estate wars rage.

read more

Seasons of the Sea

During my Pennsylvania childhood, the seasons paraded through the years in lockstep formation: Spring’s promises and petals. Summer’s lush ripeness. Autumn’s harlequin leaves. Winter’s icy grip. Here on the Northern California coast, the indomitable wind and waves have created seasons of their own: Upwelling (March through July), Relaxation (late summer through October), and Storm (November through February).

read more

Growing A New Brain

When you learn a language, a linguist once told me, you see with new eyes, listen with new ears, speak with a new tongue. In essence, you grow a new brain. As I began my coastal wonderings, waves of words—some entirely new, others familiar but with different meanings—washed over me.  I quickly realized that I would need a new vocabulary as well as a new brain.

read more