Another Illness

Recently I got a diagnosis that I had been dreading for years: diabetes. I have been taking certain psychiatric drugs that increase your risk for diabetes by causing you to gain weight (40 lbs is standard, according to my psychiatrist), messing with your metabolism, and increasing your insulin resistance. Those medications finally caught up with me, and I am what is considered pre-diabetic—in the danger zone but not diabetic yet. Testing blood sugar with a…

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What is “Nature?”

In a recent essay for Yale Environment 360, Michelle Nijhuis, an environmental journalist and author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction, writes about the problems in using the word “nature.” “…the word “nature” is more than just inaccurate. The vagueness of the concept allows us to believe that humans exist outside it. And if we can imagine that nature is over there, far away, we can also imagine that the…

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The Salt Path and The Wild Silence

This past week I read two books by Raynor Winn, a UK nature writer. The Salt Path is the first, which was followed by The Wild Silence. I received The Wild Silence from the library first, so read the books out of order. But I liked it so much that I bought my own copy of The Salt Path, which I read second. And then for good measure I read The Wild Silence again, with…

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Feeling Human

Last week I went to a public vaccine clinic to get my first shot of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. I had registered in advance so had a time and date, with no waiting in line hoping they still had some vaccine left. It was all well-organized, with volunteers showing you where to line up, and making sure you had your health card and the QR code received when you first registered for your appointment. I…

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Here Come the Cicadas

I have always been fascinated by cicadas – the periodical ones that emerge every 13 or 17 years in a frenzy of feeding and mating. When I taught an introductory environmental science course, I would show the section from the Planet Earth movie that focuses on the cicadas and their emergence. Because Brood X (the 17-year cicadas) are limited to the northeast US, most of my students (and I) had never seen such a spectacle,…

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Writing Drought

I’ve written previously about how the drought in the US southwest is more appropriately called aridification, seeing as it’s been going on for 20 years now and is the second most intense drought in the last 1200 years. I feel like something similar is going on in my writing life—a drought due to depression that has turned into aridification, as I go another day, another week, another month without writing. It’s not that I don’t…

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In the Trees

I have a bit of an obsession with trees. I can recite the names of the trees we’ve replanted on our property like a rosary: pine, cedar, hemlock, spruce, fir, oak, maple, ash, apple, cherry, dogwood… I’ve written a 5000-word essay about trees and forests that I can’t seem to place anywhere, and am writing an essay about our relationship with individual trees for Aeon/Psyche as we speak. I just reviewed Dr. Suzanne Simard’s new…

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Nostalgia, or Pining for the Mountains

A few weeks ago I wrote about the road trips that we used to take when we lived far from the Coast. There was definitely some nostalgia in that post – a recollection of past enjoyable times on the road. But nostalgia can take other forms, too. Think about the music you enjoy – scientists say we are most connected to music from our formative years. I have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of music from…

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Small Things

Lately – if, by lately, you mean the last 18 months – I have been in the grip of a depression so fierce it blasts anything good around it to smithereens. I sleep a lot, I can’t make decisions, my brain is empty of ideas, thoughts, and feelings, and I feel like I go through life like a sleepwalker. My counsellor says I should celebrate the small things. Like getting up in the morning. Or…

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Roadtripping

We haven’t been on a road trip in eight years. It feels like a lifetime, given that we used to do cross-province road trips two to three times a year over a span of eleven years. We drove from Edmonton, Prince George, and Lethbridge to Vancouver Island to see my mother-in-law and get a dose of the Coast before heading home again. From Edmonton we took Highway 16 in Alberta and switched to Highway 5…

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