Author Archives: David George Haskell

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

Posted in Archosaurs | Tagged | 5 Comments

Creative writing assignments as glyphs

After my students turned in their latest assignment — a creative piece on “place” — I asked them to represent the form of their writing through a few wordless chalk marks on the board. They also summarized the main themes of content and … Continue reading

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Moon rising over an industrial park in Winchester, Tennessee.

Starlings: Come close, but stay away. The urge to flock, arrested at the last moment by beaks’ roving jabs, wings’ need to stretch. Birded wires braided hundreds of meters of roadside. Within thirty minutes, the sun was down. The moon … Continue reading

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Originally posted on Ramble:
The golden leaves of Ginkgo trees are just spectacular this week. I have a special fondness for this species: its kin date back to the Permian (>250 million years ago), so the Paleozoic lives on right…

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Woodland family values: carrion beetles

Matt Schrader, my colleague in the Biology Department, keeps colonies of burying beetles in his lab. He studies the evolution of their behavior, especially the care that the parent beetles bestow on their young. Nicrophorus beetles find small carrion — mice … Continue reading

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Class exercise: Erasure poems from Kathleen Jamie’s “Findings”

This week I asked my students to create erasure poems from five chapters of Findings, Kathleen Jamie’s fabulous collection of essays on “the natural and unnatural world.” An erasure poem retains the words and word order of the original, and removes all but … Continue reading

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Flocks of locally-grown red junglefowl arrive in McClurg Hall

Thanks to the work of University of the South Executive Chef Rick Wright, along with his colleagues, local foods are gracing our dining hall. This year, the University will use about 20% of the food-purchasing budget in the local farm economy, a … Continue reading

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Lit up

The Sewanee sky is often dark enough to see the silver smoke of the Milky Way drifting above the treetops. On other nights: Clouds are ignited by light from dozens of pole-mounted bulbs around athletic fields. The pulse and swirl of light from the wind-driven … Continue reading

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Guest post: Callie Oldfield on roadside management of rare plants.

I’m reposting an article by Callie Oldfield, a former student of mine who now works in Sewanee’s Herbarium. She describes a new collaboration between the University’s Land Manager, Nate Wilson, Physical Plant Grounds Supervisor, William Shealy, and the state agency charged with “roadside maintenance.” … Continue reading

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Who left all these twigs in the woods? 2015 is the year of girdled hickory.

Coleopteran work crews are trimming the forest canopy. Their leavings are scattered all over the leaf litter, in a profusion that I’ve never seen. Next spring’s hickory trees will therefore cast less shade and we’ll see the beetles’ legacy in … Continue reading

Posted in Beetles | Tagged , , | 14 Comments