The Locomotive’s Wail

Posted by on Oct 7, 2015 in neighborhood | No Comments
The Locomotive’s Wail

Not a leaf stirred on my backyard birch tree. I heard no neighbors, no cars, saw no squirrels. Even the birds were silent and hidden. It was as though time itself had frozen one beautiful moment on a dew-filled autumn morning. I sat on my patio in the early morning sun and meditated on these words from […]

The Pope of the Blood Moon

Posted by on Sep 28, 2015 in neighborhood, wholeness | No Comments
The Pope of the Blood Moon

Pope Francis departed from Philadelphia International Airport last night under the glow of the harvest moon. And not just any harvest moon, but a supermoon, which seems larger than life because the moon is at its closest point to the earth. Even more–a supermoon preparing to undergo a full eclipse, which has only happened five […]

Find the Best Fall Color Near You With This Interactive Map

Posted by on Sep 16, 2015 in land, neighborhood, wholeness | No Comments
Find the Best Fall Color Near You With This Interactive Map

Maybe it’s because I’m from Wisconsin, but I love the fall. I love the early fall, when it’s still warm but the sun’s rays are less direct and more precious. I love the contemplative spirit of late fall, somber and still. And of course I love watching the annual patterns of fall color spread across […]

Yellowjackets!

Posted by on Sep 9, 2015 in neighborhood | 2 Comments
Yellowjackets!

While mowing the lawn last week, I saw a quarter-sized hole in the ground. As I approached, several small black-and-yellow insects flew out of the hole and off toward my neighbor’s pear tree. Yellowjackets! I knew that there would be hundreds more of them in that colony, and that they would pose a danger to […]

McKinley, Denali, and a Sense of Place

Posted by on Sep 2, 2015 in land | No Comments
McKinley, Denali, and a Sense of Place

Call it “Name-Gate.”…”Mountain Gate”?…”Gates of the Arctic“? (No, that one is in a different part of Alaska, and the name is taken…at least for now….) In any case, President Obama’s decision to change the name of Alaska’s most famous mountain has drawn enthusiastic support and a whole lot of anger. For centuries, the tallest peak […]

Cicada Time and a Sense of Place

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 in neighborhood | No Comments
Cicada Time and a Sense of Place

From mid to late summer, you can hear a high-pitched whine in my neighborhood. No, it’s not kids who are starting to get bored after a month or two away from school. And maybe “whine” isn’t the right word. I’ve heard it called a “screech,” but it doesn’t seem at all like that to me. […]

On Wildness and Holiness

Posted by on Aug 12, 2015 in neighborhood, wholeness | No Comments
On Wildness and Holiness

It might not look too impressive, the birch tree in my backyard. It’s not old, nor is it large; in fact, it’s even missing its third trunk, which broke years ago during a tremendous storm. But to me it is special. It reminds me of the canoe country of northeastern Minnesota, which has been my […]

The Power of Words

Posted by on Jul 29, 2015 in cosmos, wholeness | No Comments
The Power of Words

The short video below is a sign of hope to me, for in its simple and beautiful way it illustrates an important truth for our time: if we can reframe the story, we can touch people’s hearts and perhaps create a better future. Words carry much power, and the stories that dominate a culture shape the […]

How Would You Define Your Neighborhood?

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in neighborhood | No Comments
How Would You Define Your Neighborhood?

How would you define your neighborhood? My first response is to come up with a map that shows the limits of what I call my neighborhood: My neighborhood, according to my map, is bounded by Lake Michigan to the east, Highway 32 to the west and north, and the parkway to the south. Most of my walks […]

Gratitude: The Most Important Environmental Value

Posted by on Jul 8, 2015 in wholeness | No Comments
Gratitude: The Most Important Environmental Value

I always told my students that gratitude is the most important environmental value: it short-circuits the desire for more stuff. Discovering awe and wonder inevitably leads to gratitude, and I think that an already-existing sense of gratitude leads to discovering even more awe and wonder. You’ve heard of vicious circles? I think this might be […]