Was the Eclipse Anticlimactic?

    You would think we were planning an expedition to the moon. First I researched ancient and medieval narratives of eclipse, read the scientific explanation of the crimson ring we might see (hydrogen in the chromosphere) and the erratic behavior of wildlife, and got sidetracked by solar wind and the music of the spheres […]

Will Our Hyphens Join Us or Divide Us?

    Hours of my life have been wasted dithering over which compound phrases should be hyphenated, which separate, which mushed together. When Angus Stevenson, an editor of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, braved scandal by yanking the hyphens out of 16,000 words, I yelled “Woohoo” at my desk. The act honored aesthetics (hyphens annoy […]

Steinbeck and the Baby Bunny

    The dog drops into a play-bow, a fuzzy toy in his mouth. He leaps up, pounces, energy high, eyes sparkling with fun. Boy, he really loves that toy, I think, curious which of the thousand has sparked his imagination. My husband, always more alert than I, stops in the doorway. “What’s he got?” […]

How Color Left Nature Behind

    Artists select their palettes ever so carefully, but an old piece of parchment with all the colors, circled in a wheel or disciplined into a grid, their names inked gracefully beneath them? I can pore over those antique charts for hours. Seeing the colors ranged next to one another, like somebody pinned a […]

Surveillance at the Compost Dump

    “You are under surveillance,” intones a disembodied voice. I look up, startled. My scalp tingles with honest sweat, and the sun warms my shoulders as I sling last fall’s leaves and broken tree limbs into a compost pile at the park. “You are under surveillance,” the voice repeats, its intonations flat. The pitch […]