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The Eagles of Reelfoot Lake
The New York Times, 28 February 2019

In the far northwest corner of Tennessee, just this side of the Mississippi River, lies a landscape like no other. Reelfoot Lake is less a lake than a system of bayous, creeks and swampland connected by areas of shallow open water. It was created in the winter of 1811-1812 when a series of powerful earthquakes and aftershocks caused 15,000 acres of cypress forest to sink. The waters of the Mississippi River rushed into the depression. (more….)

The Call of the American Lotus
The New York Times, 9 July 2018

From the middle of its namesake delta, the city of Mobile, Ala., looks like a mythical place: shiny skyscrapers framed by cattails and marsh grass, a city that reaches into a sky so vast it holds all the weather there is — bright sun and cottony clouds and pregnant thunderheads and torrential rain — and all at one time. From the middle of that magnificent delta, Mobile could be Atlantis rising from the sea or the Emerald City of Oz. (more….)

The Spider in My Life
The New York Times, 23 July 2018

A small gray spider has pitched an elaborate camp at my work space in the family room. She is not an orb-weaver like E.B. White’s famous Charlotte. This spider’s web is a multilayered hammock-like construction strung between the leaves of the orchid I got for Mother’s Day and anchored by silken strands to the window frame in back and to an African violet and a desk lamp on either side. (more….)

In Nashville’s Sky, A Ring of Fire
The New York Times, 21 August 2017

My sister and nephew drove up from Birmingham on Sunday, the day before the eclipse, and out of pure curiosity we went downtown. The place was crawling with tourists. The Great American Eclipse website had estimated that as many as 7.4 million Americans would be traveling somewhere to witness the event, and this is the largest city in the path of totality. It seemed like a lot of them were already here. (more...)

Springtime’s Not-So-Peaceable Kingdom
The New York Times, 4 June 2017

In spring, I search for nests. I part the branches of shrubs and low-limbed trees, peering into their depths for a clump of sticks and string and shredded plastic — the messy structure of a mockingbird’s nest. I squat and look upward for a cardinal’s tidy brown bowl. I stand even with the end of my house and look from the side into the ivy climbing the bricks, searching for a tiny avian hammock tucked into the leaves by house finches. I check the fern hanging under the eaves for the vortex tunnel built by a Carolina wren. (more…)