What in the world caused this? Early in my career, I followed an older colleague through a dark forest. He’d been telling me highly suspect stories of Sasquatch sightings in that very forest, when suddenly his voice quieted. “We’re almost there,” he whispered. We slipped into a light-filled gap. Looming above us was a white... Continue Reading →
Cloud (COVID) Nine (-teen)
Cloud COVID-19 has many forms. Our connectivity means disease can amplify far and wide. As can acts of kindness.
Sometimes a Girl Wants . . . An Infrared Thermometer
My IR thermometer: it's like I purchased a new sense, something beyond color, smell, and feel.
Coming Up Flowers
My esoteric ticks that take me into the woods in winter.
Plants are the True Alchemists*
Long ago, alchemists concerned themselves with refining base materials like lead into substances with higher spiritual value, like gold. I argue that alchemists still lurk among us and that the alchemists are the plants.1 Plants take air and water, combine them using energy from the sun, and make a substance holding energy that powers life... Continue Reading →
Water Eases the Soul; Its Surface Tension Has Much to Do With It
Water drop on lotus leaf I slip into a body of water--a tub, hot tub, creek, lake, or ocean--and the water supports me, buoys me, and makes intimate, surrounding contact. It releases my tension. But that's not the surface tension I'm talking about. The bathwater's contact isn’t too intimate, the way a bath in rubbing... Continue Reading →
Why Do Maples put Sugar in the Sap in Winter?
[Note--here is a webinar I made on this topic, plus how to make maple syrup.] You may know I’m a tree physiologist and that my research has been in how a plant gets water to go up the tree, but it wasn’t until I started making maple syrup that I started thinking about maple sap.... Continue Reading →
Make Maple Syrup–or Your Equivalent
How we make maple syrup from bigleaf maples in Oregon and why we even consider it, when it's a lot of work for the syrup we get!
The Memory Stick of Life, and Why it is Important to Me this Very Minute*
One night on the way to visit my father, I heard about a crime that was allegedly committed by a twenty-year-old man. My first reaction was to be upset: it was none of our business how old he was, or even that it was a “he” and not a “she.” I remembered my reaction when... Continue Reading →
The Flowers That Bloom in July, Tra La—and Why We Monitor Them
With our monitoring of first flowering date, we have a feeling of belonging to the world, rather than resistance to it; of concordance, rather than shock.
Manroot Gives Windows to My Understanding of “Truth”
Last week I attended a symposium on Environmental Arts and Humanities. I listened with creeping discomfort as three speakers talked about “truth” as if it were subjective. One speaker talked about her research on photos, not what is in them, but what observers of the photos take away. These takeaways were the big feelings like... Continue Reading →
Springs, Harmonic Motion, and the Zen of Recording First Flowering Date
Some time last year, the plants around our cabin started grabbing atoms from the air and soil. They jammed them together, then used solar energy to stick them into molecules that were no longer gas or liquid, but were solid. For the rest of the growing season, the plants doled out those molecules to whatever... Continue Reading →
Poison Oak: In It Up to My Elbows
When I chose to study the ecology of western poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum, also known as Rhus diversiloba), I knew I would have to learn how to minimize the risk of “getting poison oak” and of causing other people to get it (11, 12, 13, 14). Here I describe the nature and seriousness of the... Continue Reading →
Poison Oak: A Beautiful Plant “of Noe Very Ill Nature”
[Please also see my blog on how I worked with poison oak and my webinar--starts at 51:00--on poison oak.] Chorus frogs are peeping, the trillium blooms have turned from white to purple, and leaves of all the deciduous plants are bursting forth in an orchestrated unfolding, filling, and spreading. And among the most beautiful displays... Continue Reading →
Meet the Grandchillas, My Surrogate Grandkids
My son and his wife have been together for almost eight years. For the moment, and maybe forever, they have no human kids, but they do have five chinchillas. When their winter-break sitter fell through, they asked if I would step in. And I knew: it was time to get to know my grandchillas. They... Continue Reading →
Thanks for Unexpected Wildflowers in November
This time of year, the natural beauty in our part of Oregon is in the textures of branches and barks, and the patchworks of greens showing through yellows and browns of fallen leaves. It’s in mists that rise and fogs that settle. It’s in sun that glows, white not yellow. And nothing botanical is gloriously... Continue Reading →
My Burn Pile Released Energy Stored the Days My Grandparents Were Born
We’re back from vacation, and as I’d hoped, my dog and I are overjoyed to be together again. The salmon are spawning in the creek, the chestnuts are falling in the driveway, the jays are emptying them, and the dog is growling, pawing, and barking at their spiny casings. But the topic of this week’s... Continue Reading →
Professional Meeting: Mechanics and Failure (Short Fiction)
Out the plane window, Daria considered the resemblance of the wind-whipped ocean surface to a meadow in a breeze. In both cases, the waves and the troughs between them seemed tickled along by the wind. The mechanisms, however, were quite different, as she’d shown with a post-doc several years back. Just for starts, wind energy... Continue Reading →
Was Flowering Earlier or Later after the Cold, Wet Winter?
“Some of them like it; some of them don’t.” That’s what a future landlord told me years ago on the phone while describing the firehouse he was renting. (It turned out it was a farmhouse; I hadn’t understood his New Hampshire accent. And I liked it.) We had a cold winter this year in the... Continue Reading →
Evaporation: If Water Were Olive Oil, We’d All Be Fried
On Friday my dad had to go to the clinic. I took him there. They said his blood pressure was low--really low, and I should get him an ambulance for the ride to the emergency room half a mile away. But I drove him instead. I parked, slammed my door, ran for a wheelchair, rotated... Continue Reading →