Author Archives: David George Haskell

Mastery through simplicity: Tide pool springtails, Anurida maritima

As if the tide pool surface was ice, hundreds of small gray animals skate and jiggle over the salt water. Not a single one of the animals is wet. None sink. In gusty wind their swarms blow back and forth within the confines of the … Continue reading

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Ocean teenagers leaving their shed clothes everywhere

Small horseshoe crab shells have started littering the wrack line in Middle Bay, Maine. Every high tide brings more, sometimes half a dozen shells for every meter or so of wrack. These are not dead crabs (the May full moon mating frenzy left … Continue reading

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Great new book: “I Contain Multitudes” by Ed Yong

News flash: A fabulous new book about microbial life (which, it turns out, is all life) hit the shelves yesterday. Ed Yong is an outstanding writer whose elegant, witty prose describes a revolution in biology. Our new understanding of microbes upends much of what we … Continue reading

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Living flypaper

On the edge of a mountain bog in Maine, a thumbnail-sized plant grows amid the mosses: This is sundew, Drosera, a carnivorous plant, ready to ambush. Darwin devoted twelve chapters of his 1875 book, Insectivorous Plants, to the anatomy, behavior, and … Continue reading

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Cold, cold bathing (duckling style)

The Labrador Current carries water from northern Greenland down the Canadian coast, then swirls its iciness into the Gulf of Maine. On the Maine shore, waiting for the splash, are common eider ducklings: Before: During: After: …whee that was fun, … Continue reading

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Now we see through a glass, (darkly, nope…) Tiffany, Chihuly

At the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, light streams through vitrified pigmented sand: From Louis Comfort Tiffany, Parakeets and Gold Fish Bowl, a piece made in about 1893. Tiffany’s use of glass to evoke the birds’ colorful and varied head patterns is … Continue reading

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A few bright spots in the dark woods

The many greedy layers of the forest canopy in Shakerag Hollow gobble the light. It is darker at ground level now than it is in mid-winter. Most understory plants are in hunker-down-and-sip mode. One or two species, though, know that … Continue reading

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New England clam preparation, gull style

Drifts of smashed clam shells lie on the exposed rocks at the high tide mark. These are the leavings of aerial bombardment by herring gulls. As the tide recedes, mud flats are revealed and, buried in the gray ooze, quahog clams. … Continue reading

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End Times and the interrogative mood.

My phone tells me: Questions ensue: In what way could this be OK? Can we imagine ways in which this might not be OK? Does the use of “Unfortunately” and OK in the same statement evince an emotionally mature mélange of acceptance and willingness … Continue reading

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Grassland birds

In a hay meadow near Brunswick, Maine: Bobolink, taking a break from his jumbled singing flights over the field. Savannah sparrow, keeping an eye on neighboring males. According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, neither species has been faring well. The … Continue reading

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