‘But when war come, Hunkie good enough to fight’

Men and Steel, Mary Heaton Vorse, (1920). This is a fascinating, in-the-trenches look at the 1919 national steel strike, with particular emphasis on Braddock and the pastor of the Slovak Catholic church there who stood by his congregation in the face of threats and intimidation from the steel bosses. Mary Heaton Vorse is a wonderful …

Leaf Litter: An occasional nature note

While reading The Practice of the Wild, a book of essays by Gary Snyder, I came across his ode to leaf litter: Living activity goes right down to and under the ‘ground’ – the litter, the duff. There are termites, larvae, millipedes, mites, earthworms, springtails, pillbugs, and the fine threads of fungus woven through. ‘There …

Jane Swisshelm was a total badass

I’ve been tinkering again with The Book, and one of the rabbit holes that research dropped me into prompted the discovery that Swissvale (where I attended high school) and nearby Swisshelm Park were named after Jane Swisshelm, journalist, abolitionist, and all-around bad-ass. The Wikipedia entry on her notes she wrote an autobiography called “Half a …

The Deer Hunter

I rewatched The Deer Hunter the other night (magnificent film) and it reminded me I shot this last weekend. I was exploring the forest around Innisfree when I heard a small herd of deer heading my way, giving me time to blend in with the trees and film as they passed. Does and fawns …

The Sullen Possum, the Damned Bobcat and Yonder Sycamore

Flush with the knowledge of a daylong tree identification class, I was determined to walk out to the White Whale of my micro-forest, a few vertical brushstrokes of light slashing skyward amid the autumn rust that’s encased the rest of the hollow. That tree catches my eye every time I lumber down the driveway during …