Freelancing is a hard hike in a tough terrain of competition. This is by way of saying don’t expect a lot here. One advantage of freelancing is following your passion – writing about what moves you, not just what’s assigned by an editor (the disadvantage is lack of a steady paycheck). It’s said a good writer writes about what s/he knows, but I’ve always written about what I want to know. Like, life, the universe, and everything -- but especially forests, because forests should rule the world if the world was sane.

The North Fork of the Shenandoah River a few miles west of New Market.

A Sedimental Journey: How Historic Deforestation Degrades Waterways Today

 I was invited to give this presentation by my watershed group, Friends of the North Fork Shenandoah River.  In “A Sedimental Journey: How Historic Deforestation Degrades Waterways Today,” I use a forensics approach to find clues to history – and its long-term consequences – in our forests and streams today.  The word “Legacy” usually means something good received from the past, or created for the future.  “Legacy sediments” literally muddy this concept and are revolutionizing our understanding of truly […]

Featured: Better with Age Creativity, Diversity & Surprise

Greatful Dead-heading: A Gardener’s Revelation

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”Grateful Dead-heading: A Gardener’s Revelation,” an essay in Better with Age: Creativity, Discovery, and Surprise, published in 2020.

“Pinch. Snip. Snap. Severed, spent flowers drop into the compost bucket like guillotined heads into a basket. I pretend they’re my bad habits, bad temper, bad hair. If only it were so easy.”

“In the dusk of my life, I go out on my deck of a […]

Featured: O.G. oak tree

Forests of the Southern Appalachians: Repairing the Past, Defending the Future

The theme for the 2020 annual conference of the Appalachian Studies Association was “Appalachian Understories.” Conference announcements cited, somewhat vaguely, the “Mother Forest.”  This was nice to see because the globally unique Southern Appalachian forests don’t receive much recognition, especially the world-class national forest commons.  Yet these nearly contiguous six million acres of Appalachian national forests, regrowing after historically horrific logging, are the region’s best hope against climate change.  My talk plays with both “Understories” and “Mother Forest” to describe how our forests […]

Featured Image: A lone wolf resting in forest greenery

The Grimm Brothers’ Worst Nightmare: Wolves Thriving in Germany

“The Grimm Brothers’ Worst Nightmare: Wolves Thriving in Germany” was published in Rewilding Earth, March 2020. Inexplicably, this story gained me an invitation to join the Rewilding Leadership Council, which put me way out of my league.

“It was Grandparents Day last August at the kindergarten in Cumlosen, a village in former East Germany. There were outdoor games, face painting, singing, and a small carousel. Then the teachers did a skit: the Big Bad […]

Featured: Old, broken-down pig fence in snowy woods

Forest Forensics: Clues in the woods to historic crimes against nature, and the consequences today

“Forest Forensics” was first published in October of 2019 in Blue Ridge Outdoors Online then republished in Rewilding Earth in February 2020.  

“There are no bodies, no police tape, no cluster of curious onlookers. Yet there is plenty of evidence of a historic ecological crime: the deforestation of the eastern United States and consequent massive loss of topsoil. It began slowly at Jamestown and culminated quickly just a century ago in the Appalachian Mountains. Archives document the destruction of virtually […]