Politics Aside: We Must All Be Mothers of Nature

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
-Cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead

Albatross DepartureLate last year, at the same time the Presidential election results shook the nation, the majestic Laysan albatross started returning to Kaua‘i. They dropped their spatula-like feet and touched land after months of knowing only air and wind and a wet, watery world. As of November 8th, six had returned to the colony I monitor, here to meet up with their partners and start the creation of another generation of majestic flyers. I knew a bit of history about five of them. I knew this because of the bands around their legs. Read more

My First Photography Show

My first photography show opened on Kauai’s North Shore at Kilauea Bakery, and it’s dedicated to the majestic Laysan Albatross, a seabird with chicks popping out of eggs as I write this. The show will hang for the month of February. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by. If not, here are the images hanging in the show. Click on a thumbnail to enlarge it. And if you are inspired to see these birds in the wild, a great place to catch them this time of year is Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge where they often circle the historic lighthouse en route to their breeding grounds on the refuge.

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My Intersection of Science and Writing

The text came through one recent afternoon. It read:

Got stinky whale to necropsy. 10’ pilot whale on rocks, fairly stinky. Looking for a couple folks to help carry/bury carcass. It’s def rocky, slippery and steep. No worries if busy tho.

I responded that, yes, I was available to help.

Do you WANT to tho? Seriously no pressure, just thought you may be interested.

Short-finned pilot whale? Of course, I was interested. How often do you get to see the inner workings of a member of the dolphin group that usually spends its life far offshore? Animals that as adults range in length from 12 to 18 feet and weigh 2,200 to 6,600 pounds. Animals that do not reach maturity until they are about 10 and live up to 60 years of age. Females of this species gestate some 15 months and nurse their young for two years, waiting five to eight years before giving birth to their next calf. The last calf born to a mother may be nursed for as long as 15 years. Read more

Storyknife #4: What A Dream

img_8238She’d already given me a brief tour of Frederica cabin. Brief because the cabin is perfectly sized small. Brief because I sensed she did not want to intrude on what would be my writing space and home for the next month. Brief because I sensed something else going on. As she walked out the door and down the few steps to the gravel drive, author Dana Stabenow paused and said to me, “You’re a dream come true.”

Then, quickly, she turned and walked off, head down as if bracing for a stiff wind or readying for an overhead wave about to collide with the fishing boat on which she’d grown up. Or, maybe, simply to hide a big grin on her face.

Across the Cook Inlet, Mts. Douglas, Augustine, Iliamna, and Redoubt radiated in the dwindling Fall light. Read more

Storyknife #3: Sightings

I’m not going to lie. The days here in Alaska during my 30-day writing residency run together. There are days when I sit at my writing desk, glancing up between bouts of laying down paragraphs, barely noting the drying fireweed of fall in the field beyond my window, barely remembering there are volcanoes across the Cook Inlet. Only to be greeted by a radiant view of Iliamna breaking through the clouds. Today, it was the merest hint of a rainbow arcing over Mt. Augustine that caught my surprise. (Well, where the volcanic island is supposed to be, but at 60-some miles distant, it’s socked in today.) Sometimes, it’s the striated colors of clouds stretched and loosely twisted like taffy at sunset that make me grab my camera. These things catch my notice. But they don’t all stick with me. (That first night’s sunset does, because it turned out to be an ephemeral and welcoming one. No sunset has touched it since.) Read more