All posts filed under: Featured Ekostories

octoberama-charley-harper

Art, Animal, Essence: The Drawings of Charley Harper

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped drawing. I don’t mean the occasional doodles I do now; I mean before, when drawing was like daily bread, a childhood mainstay. I mean the classes, the contests, the urge to recreate images I saw in books, from movies, outside, everywhere. It was definitely before middle school, before that one time in English class where we had to speak about one of our hobbies and why it meant a lot to us. Being a teenager with no particular aspirations, I chose to pluck something from the past and spoke about drawing. I talked about how I would spend hours tracing and retracing, how time would dissolve while depicting a new world, the pride I would feel after finishing. After class, my best friend at the time pulled me aside. “I have never seen you draw. Like at all.” He was right. One day I stopped. I dropped the old ways and went on. But the memories were still there. The drawings, too. A few months ago while visiting …

grasslands greenview Lyn Baldwin

Finding Place through Art and Science: The Field Journals of Lyn Baldwin

This piece was featured as an Editor’s Pick on Discover WordPress June 30,2016. I began my first field journal in Belize, during my time there for biology field school. Each evening after night walks I would jot down a list of the day’s seen species under the fluorescent hum of generator lights. Flipping through the spiral-bound notebook now a decade later, I wish I hadn’t been so rigid in my musings, so clinical in my descriptions of those treasurable weeks in a new place. Now and then memories surface – hiking up trails in Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve; huddling close to campfires pitched by the Sibun River after a day of canoeing; swaying in a hammock and looking out at the sunset while listening to someone strumming the guitar. These happenings now slip through my mesh of English and Latin names, scrawled neat on ruled lines. I wish I did a better job at capturing moments. I wish I could go back. *** Maybe regret is why I so admire those skilled at conveying the …

Elephant eye up close

Bearing Witness: The Animal Dialogues by Craig Childs

It began with pronghorns. Growing up obsessed with creature comparisons, the main allure of the antelope was its cheetah-esque speed, evolved to evade the North American version of that predatory cat long extinct. I was tickled by the idea that the pronghorn outran its ghost and thus forever evaded its own doom. In these later years and slower-paced days, other commendable qualities came to the fore: Those long-lashed doe eyes; that sly, set hint of a smile; the pair of ebony horns sheathed in keratin which shed like antlers; the tinge of melancholy derived from knowing that it is the sole survivor of its family, the last remnant of kin. It was a fortuitous flip to the essay on pronghorns that persuaded me to pick up Craig Childs’ The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild. In each intimately wrought tale on antelopes, hawks, and red-spotted toads, I found a writer and translator more versed in the tongues of the non-human world than I will ever be. Childs honors the weight and magnitude of his …

The Road Fallen over poles McCarthy

No Nature, No Culture, Only Love: The Road

Over the past few entries, I’ve touched on the importance of staying optimistic in difficult times. This week, I want to look at a story that puts that to the ultimate test, a story in which hope arises from utter despair: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.There are some who read this post-apocalyptic tale only as an ecological parable, a potential scenario if humanity continues to damage the earth’s life support systems. I don’t. McCarthy doesn’t dwell on the cause of his world’s demise, and neither will I. Instead, I’m more interested in exploring the impact of a ruined earth on the human psyche. How do these characters make sense of the world where nature and culture is beyond recovery? How do they cope with constant and unrelenting despair? What compels them to go on when the past is lost, never to return? The Road touches on these difficult questions. Yet despite seeming like the type of story that revels in violence and nihilism, it is really a tale about the very essence of what it means to …

Eric Murtaugh Tidepool Steinbeck Sea of Cortez

From the Tidepool to the Stars: Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez

What was the story that began this journey? That question has been on my mind since I reflected back on the past year of Ekostories. What tale triggered this exploration of nature, culture, and self? After some thought, one story came to the forefront, a surprise contender. It is a work that straddles the boundary between fiction and non-fiction. It is a story that melds science with literature, philosophy with social commentary, art with ethics and adventure. It is John Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez. That’s not entirely true. While the cover bears the name of the author of Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, and The Grapes of Wrath, The Log from the Sea of Cortez was a collaboration between the Nobel prize-winning novelist and marine biologist Ed Ricketts. The book chronicles the two friends’ six-week, four thousand mile marine specimen collecting expedition in the Gulf of California, detailing the adventures, discoveries, and camaraderie as they travel from site to site, passing towns, reefs, isles, and sea. Like the voyage itself, the travelogue allows time …