Bering Witness

Despite living in the center of the continent, and quasi-quarantined at that, we know that Siberia is burning and the arctic ice is melting. The permanence of permafrost has passed. From beneath the thawing coasts and the consequent noise of increased shipping, the whales are calling. A few years ago, James Nestor's book Deep reminded me of my…
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Back in early March I had the good fortune of being first on the holds list for Recollections of My Nonexistence, the new memoir by Rebecca Solnit. My luck held -- I checked it out just before the quarantine, thus guaranteeing that I could keep it for months. (I’ve been infected by Ms. Solnit’s contagious…
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In recent years there's been a groundswell in studies of the ecology of hidden things -- soil biota, genomics, cell biology, the human biome.
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Erosion, and its Opposites

I appreciated nothing of this country, the actual landscape, until high school, when a friend introduced me to the Southwest via a book called The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Ed Abbey. In it, the land is essentially one of the characters. With that, my days out east were numbered -- as were my days of…
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The Way Home

Another scorching summer afternoon and a library patron walks up to the desk: "I remember when we didn't have air conditioning. These are the good old days." T
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A New Map of Wonders

At the Ask Desk recently, contemplating library users' habits, I came across an online explanation of the difference between "browse" and "graze." The source, a gargantuan search engine company whose name is now both noun and verb, got the definitions right but then got the usage example exactly wrong. They used to urge us not…
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