Author Archives: David George Haskell

About snow

With thanks to students in my Field Studies in “Nature” Writing class: Size seven shoe, entering a chapel: high-heeled. Ambitious choices. Unseen hands: inking streams and painting danger. Absence: bodies cut holes in the wind. Numb edges. Red buckets, flapping … Continue reading

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Chapter forms

I asked students in my “Environmental and Biological Non-fiction” class to represent in sketches and geometrical forms the structure of chapters from four books. Here’s what they drew. Can you recognize any of the books? (click on images for an enlarged view; … Continue reading

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The tree that owns itself?

Finley Street in Athens, Georgia, is partly blocked by a curved stone wall. Cars must slow and twist their way around the obstruction. As they do so, they pass under the branches of an aristocratic white oak tree: this plant … Continue reading

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Continental gyre of birds.

A paper published this week by scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology uses eBird data to map the migratory paths of birds in the Western Hemisphere. eBird is a free online checklist program used by tens of thousands of bird … Continue reading

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De rerum…corpus individuum? On the nature of the periodic table.

Through the caprices of classroom scheduling, I find myself teaching a writing class in a seminar room usually devoted to the study of the grammar of electrons and the narratives of covalent bonds. My colleagues in the Chemistry Department have posted a periodic table … Continue reading

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Gannets, tough heads, and offshore oil drilling.

On a beach on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina: …an immature Northern Gannet, washed ashore after a sea burial. Cause of death unknown. This bird’s brown plumage identifies it as a first-year bird, hatched this spring. Adults are white … Continue reading

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Beach stroll. “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

Dune grasses, mist. Isle of Palms, South Carolina. A ten minute walk north, wave-bitten condos: The ground floor: collapsed. Condos in the back of the building: still occupied, it seems. Can sand bags and plastic pipes muzzle the chewing maw of the … Continue reading

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Salamanders of early winter (guest post by Saunders Drukker)

I’m delighted to share this guest blog post written by Saunders Drukker. Saunders is an Ecology and Biodiversity major at Sewanee (Class of 2017). He’s been studying salamanders and other herps for years. I hope you’ll enjoy his observations and photographs. As … Continue reading

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Steven Vogel, an appreciation.

Steven Vogel, biologist and author, has died. Jim Gorman’s article in the New York Times gives us a glance at the man behind the books. Through Jim Gorman’s interviews we learn that Vogel’s generous enthusiasm and love of learning, so clearly expressed in … Continue reading

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Turkey carving and muscle physiology. Prepare your dissection equipment, please.

Thanksgiving week promises many things, foremost among these delights are the physiology lessons offered by turkey carving. The bird is presented to the world belly upward, as if in a dissecting dish. The carving knife scalpel slides through the skin, crossing feather tracts still visible as … Continue reading

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