All posts tagged: nature culture

Content that explores the relationship between nature and culture.

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 …

Me and Gravity

Me and Gravity, Orion Magazine

I am honoured to be a contributor in the latest double-issue of Orion, a fantastic magazine that explores ideas around nature, culture, and place. If that tagline sounds familiar to Ekostories, it’s because Orion was one of my chief inspirations for taking up the pen (keyboard?) years ago and remains one of the few publications I relish reading from beginning to end. I’m thrilled to have my short piece, “Me and Gravity”, included as the coda. But beyond the thrill of seeing the work in print, what I am most grateful for  – and it was something that came as a delightful surprise – is to be part of an issue that focused on diversity and perspectives, especially pertaining to the environmental movement. So here is my request: If you haven’t already, pick up this beautifully produced, completely ad-free publication and see what it’s about. But don’t do it because of my silly little story. Don’t even do it for the amazing writing by personal craft heroes like Joe Wilkins and Barry Lopez (both of which are featured in …

Hawaiian Island Topography Large

Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will

The first place I ever felt at home in was on an island. My grandparents lived on Cheung Chau, an island ten kilometers southwest of Hong Kong. Literally translated as “long isle”, Cheung Chau is shaped like a dumbbell, its two granite masses joined in the middle by a sandbar. As a child I spent weekends and summers there fishing and swimming, and even now the scent of saltspray and sewage sends me back to that grimy old fishing village. This fondness for islands stayed and deepened. When I moved to Canada and started to read English I found myself drawn to Earthsea, the fantasy archipelago world of Ursula K. Le Guin. On each of her conjured isles laid not only magic and adventure, but moods intrinsic to and defined by geography. I connected to Astowell, last land before the open sea; Gont and its snow-capped peak rising up like a sharp spire; Osskil, raven realm, icebound and alien. Many times I have sailed in my mind to the shores of Selidor at the westernmost edge of the world, that …

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 …

Great Horsetail_Luc_Viatour

More Than Ferns: Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal

When I finished the preface to Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal and found that the late neurologist and author shared my love for natural history travelogues, I knew I was in for a treat. What I was not expecting to discover was a potential new writing muse and a possible kindred spirit. If you harbour no interest for ferns, travel writing, or Oliver Sacks as a person, this slim tome may not be for you. Luckily, I’m fascinated by all of three elements, and so found Oaxaca Journal an Ekostory well worth exploring.

Unless - The Lorax

The Lorax and Literature’s Moral Obligation

I recently came across a wonderful piece in The Atlantic exploring some of the ideas that have been rattling around in my head ever since I started Ekostories. Using Dr. Seuss classic The Lorax as a starting point, author Lydia Millet makes a case for the importance of activist-minded fiction. What role should literature play in voicing the great and pressing challenges of our time? Should it convey messages and courses of action? What constitutes preaching? What can transcend it? Here are a few sections that resonated with me: On the urgent need for eco-literature: “Shouldn’t the cascades of extinction and rapid planetary warming register in our literature? And yet, despite the fact that most Americans support the work of saving species from winking out, and increasingly support strong action to curb climate change, the highly rational push for the preservation of nature and life-support systems often appears in the media—and certainly appears in most current fiction—as a boutique agenda. Climate change is shifting that marginalization, but not fast enough.” On what makes the Lorax powerful: “What makes …

Surface waves water ripples

The Drop That Contained the Sea, by Christopher Tin

Recently while sorting through my soundtrack collection, I came across an old and beloved piece of music. Titled “Baba Yetu“, it was the feature song for Civilization 4, an entry in a popular strategy game series that came out in 2004. While humming the tune and falling into the timesink that is Wikipedia, I learned that the song is a Swahili translation of the Lord’s Prayer, that it was the only videogame song in history to win a Grammy, and that the composer Christopher Tin‘s latest creation was a classical crossover album around the theme of water called “The Drop That Contained the Sea“. “The message [of the album] is that, essentially, in the coming century water, and water management, is going to be the most important global issue to all people and across all countries,” Tin says, “Between melting Antarctic ice sheets and rising ocean levels and droughts and increased devastation from hurricanes and so forth, water is literally going to shape the way we draw our maps.” – Christopher Tin, Public Radio International Needless to …