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Homework

  I abandon my assignment. I will not follow instructions, but sit impassively with the pine trees listening to a distant chainsaw and a dog barking questions. My eyes trace the curves of the southeastern hillsides, remembering the fire and studying the shape of the burn. I will not return at the appointed hour. I walk along the edge of the mountain’s granite apron to the skull of a bobcat, where I busy myself collecting its teeth, fitting them carefully into each socket. At sunset I...

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On Outdoor Re-creation

I’ve always enjoyed exploring the wilderness. I have never understood why more people don’t do it, though perhaps deep down I’m grateful not to have hordes of other humans out there.  It’s like this ridiculously well-kept secret. Why? This piece on the death of backpacking asks the same question. The author believes backpacking in particular is not popular “because younger people are leery of the unglamorous labor required for stepping off pavement, and too occupied with the easiness of TV,...

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Trail

  The trouble began with the lies about Eden and Eve. I hid my nakedness. Pressed my school uniform. Conjugated verbs. Rode the subway to my cubicle. Took notes in meetings. Aspired to productivity. Trailing the deer my long confinement in shame is fading. The snake coiled by the stream says nothing of separation. Water flows through the aspen grove where the many are one and I weave through their fine trunks on hooves of light and belonging.  ...

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Whose Agenda?

  A friend of mine teaches outdoor survival skills. Things like friction fire-making, animal tracking, finding water, bow hunting, and so on. Something that came up in a recent conversation had to do with the way humans are always bringing our agendas to nature. We generally go into nature not to give, but to get something. A few of the people my friend works with are interested in deep nature connection and awareness. But most come to her because they see this as a way to feel capable...

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Breaking the Trance

  For most of us, it’s really hard to imagine what the Great Turning could look like. (I’m using Joanna Macy’s description of the shift towards a life-affirming society – in contrast to the “Great Unraveling” in which we keep going down the path we’re on.) This is the monolithic power of late capitalism: It has all but destroyed the possibility of even imagining alternatives. That’s what totalizing narratives do, and the one we have going right now is sine pari. It’s horrifyingly...

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