The morning after the election I woke up in a hotel room in Portland, Oregon. I hadn’t slept much the night before, staying up late watching the returns come in, trying to quell the swelling nausea I felt as it became increasingly clear what the outcome would eventually be, simultaneously fascinated and appalled, like driving slowly past a terrible traffic accident on the highway. And after the pundits finally ran out of anything at all to say, after the last swing state had swung, after... Read More
I have a rat in my henhouse. More accurately, I guess I ought to say that I have rats in my henhouse, since the singular form of that word should probably not exist. There is no such thing as "a rat." There are only, always and inevitably, "rats."
I've been struggling to keep our rat population under control because my neighbors in the thickly settled streetcar suburb where we live get understandably exercised at the appearance of Rattus norvegicus scampering across their... Read More
My twelve year old son Sam and I spent the first week of August at the WoodenBoat School, out near the end of the Blue Hill peninsula on the coast of Maine. It was family boatbuilding week and we were there, with three other families, to build an Echo Bay Dory Skiff, a 12' long lug-rigged sailboat, under the tutelage of a skilled boat builder. All of us were amateurs, none with much experience – some had never done any woodworking before at all. We started out Monday morning with four sheets... Read More
It is with regret and some reluctance that I am conceding defeat and putting my trusty old commuter bike out to pasture. Having lost access to both lower chain rings and run out of ideas for fixing the problem myself, I took it into our local shop, where a heavily inked mechanic who hadn’t been born when I purchased the bike some 30 years ago from the same shop told me he couldn’t fix it. Or more accurately, wouldn’t fix it. “This bike needs everything,” he muttered, disgusted, and... Read More
Early one morning in late May I stood at the rear of a spotless large animal examination room in the veterinary medicine center at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, watching a young male Florida panther undergo his final check-up before being released to the wild. The big cat lay supine on a stainless steel table under bright overhead lights, wearing an oxygen and anesthesia mask. He was absolutely beautiful even in his sedated state, lanky and long, all muscle and sinew, the distilled essence of... Read More
We hear the birds long before we can see them, a chorus of chirrups and gabbles and honks and whistles emanating from the velvety pre-dawn darkness as we gingerly navigate a muddy, rutted path out to the viewing blinds. It sounds like a wind ensemble tuning up, like spring peepers on steroids. Cranes have long, coiled tracheas – like the pipes of a French horn – that enable them to produce a bewildering variety of rolling melodious notes.
And there are lots of cranes here,... Read More