A Letter for World Kindness Day

Letters to the Revolution

  FOUR YEARS AGO this month, in the aftermath of the soul-crushing election that had just delivered the meanest and most morally bankrupt of humans to the highest seat of power in the world, I contributed to an anthology seeking words of hope. At the time, I decided my best hope was to counter this…

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Mother Cougar, Queen of the Screen

  For a few days this past October, it seemed like everybody in the world stopped to watch those six minutes in hell, when a 26-year-old trail runner, Kyle Burgess, met a mother cougar in a canyon outside Provo, Utah. Burgess had come upon what he first believed were bobcat kittens gamboling in the trail,…

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Touched by a Shark

Jim Abernethy and Emma the tiger shark

For a couple years as a kid I lived on the island of Key West, a bohemian U.S. outlier ninety miles north of Cuba. Key West by that time had become a sportfishing mecca, and come five o’clock a boy with time and no money could entertain himself by walking the docks as the charter…

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Mason’s Blue Owl

watercolor by Mason Ellsworth

Twelve years ago, not long after our move to West Virginia, Kathy and I spent a special evening hanging with our new friends, Brian and Sylvia Ellsworth. That night we met their teenaged son, Mason, an angelic, baby-faced, happy-go-lucky musician who politely schooled us rock-and-roll dinosaurs on the current music scene, and led songs around the campfire after dinner. Two days later, Mason suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident.

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When Big City Meets Big Kitty

It’s been a few weeks now since our weary COVID gaze was momentarily enlivened by the sighting of a cat. For two days in mid-June we tuned in as a wild mountain lion walked the streets of San Francisco. We followed him by way of citizen smartphones and security cameras, popping up in the city…

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Owl Time

screech owl perched on nest cavity

There’s a predator lurking, just around the corner of the house. The cardinal bird says so, his excited chipping as clear a warning as a finger tapping on my shoulder. Toward all the fussing I follow, tiptoeing barefoot through the grass. And there, just a few feet away from the sentinel cardinal, is the subject…

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Earth Optimism Summit 2020

Cool to be part of the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Summit 2020, which wraps up today. Feel free to drop in on my session, where I talk about–what else?–predators! That is, predators and their  ecological role in the web of life. And why in these scary times of the coronavirus pandemic, showing more respect and admiration…

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Lions in Our Midst

Last month a wild mountain lion, while out on his nightly rounds, helped himself into the Los Angeles Zoo after hours and famously dismembered one of its residents. The prey was a 14-year-old koala named Killarney, and her suspected predator was none other than Los Angeles’ most popular mountain lion, a seven-year old tom named…

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