All posts tagged: Stories

Stories that contain themes of nature, culture, and self.

Me and Gravity

Me and Gravity, Orion Magazine

Update: “Me and Gravity” has been selected as a “Notable” entry in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2017 Anthology. 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 …

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 …

Baird's Tapir

Zoomorphic Magazine, A Tapir’s Tale

I‘m pleased to announce that Zoomorphic Magazine has published one of my personal essays titled “A Tapir’s Tale”. From scientists and conservationists with research to share to nature writers with stories to tell, Zoomorphic is a great read for anyone interested in writing that “deepens our connection with wildlife and the more-than-human world”. “A Tapir’s Tale” begins with a childhood animal book and delves into an encounter I had while in Belize for field school a decade ago: “…When I concentrate memories begin to surface as flickers, like glints of minnows scattered by diving kingfishers, like flash sightings of otters slipping into dark waters. The dull knife edge of a nearby karst shore against palm. The airy wake trailing a pair of fishing bats on hair and scalp. Their wheeling forms crossing filigree shadows cast by overhanging trees. A ripe fig falls in the water and ripples out. Interplay between sound and silence. Layers and moments circling a creation unfinished. You shattered that tranquility for me.” I’m looking forward to delving into the latest issue. …

Dulal Baje Nepal

Do You Understand? A Story from Nepal

A friend recently introduced me to Humans of New York, a photoblog with an enormous following on social media. Ranging from the mundane to the profound, these portraits and snippets offer brief but intimate glimpses into the worlds of others. They feed our collective craving for stories, personal tales, to hear and to share them. Not long after I came across an offshoot project called Stories of Nepal. As visitors to Ekostories might know, I’ve written a few pieces on my trip there in 2012, and even though I was in the country for all too brief a time, the people of that land have remained dear to me. Reading through some of their stories, one in particular resonated with me during this tail-end of the holiday season and calendar year. With the permission of photographer and translator Jay Poudyal, I would like to share it with you a passage by a farmer named Dulal Baje: “There was no animosity during our times. We were farmers. We were strong communities. We were families. No politics. Do you understand? …

Happy Birthday, Ursula K. Le Guin

Today is the 86th birthday of author Ursula K. Le Guin, without whom I would have never wrote all the words on this blog, or any words in general, because I would have missed out on visiting worlds of wizards, dragons, aliens, Italians, anarchists, and ants. In light of this happy occasion, I’ve compiled the pieces I’ve written about her work over the years on Ekostories. To steal a passage from the introduction she did for James Tiptree Jr.’s Star Songs of an Old Primate: “Here are Some real stories.”

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 …

Albatross at Midway

Midway: A Message from the Gyre

The trailer for Midway: A Message from the Gyre has been out for a few years now, but I only came across it last week. Even though I was familiar with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and knew about the plight of the albatross on this remote atoll, I was unprepared for Chris Jordan’s unflinching look at death and dying, of chicks bloated with plastics fighting for each breath, at beak and feather and sinew giving way to a grotesque nest of bottle caps and butane lighters, still discernable. It’s hard to watch: Midway is steeped in heartbreak and grief, as with so many environmental tales of our time. It forces us to face the reality of the situation, our complicity in this unfolding tragedy. Yet Jordan’s steadfast focus does not seem to linger on guilt, but rather revolves around awe. Pitching the film as “a love story for our time from the heart of the Pacific”, he also captures these birds in the full flight of life, wayfarers who spend most of their lives soaring …