To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.

Blake, "Auguries of Innocence"

Take a second look …

The yellow eyes of the Saw-whet Owl are so startling, their gaze so steady, that we tend to ignore everything else. It’s easy to miss the trace of blood just below the owl’s bill, a smear of something that changes the way we look at the bird, that deepens our understanding of it. What discoveries might we make if we took that second look more often, if we trained ourselves to see?

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Butterflies of the Carden Alvar: Part One, the Fritillaries

I hate driving. With all my heart and soul, I hate to get behind the wheel and press my foot on the gas. But that didn’t stop me from renting a car on the last day of July and driving two hours north of Toronto to the Carden Alvar Provincial Park. I wanted to see types of butterflies I can’t find in Toronto, and this desire was so strong—for something new! for rich colors!—that it overcame my reluctance to drive. Since the park boasts an ecology that’s rare almost to the point of uniqueness, I knew my chances of finding … Read more

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This is the featured image for thepost on Ten Influential Albums: Numbers 6-10.

Ten Influential Albums: Numbers 6-10

Here is the second instalment of the list I drew up in May for the so-called Ten Album Challenge. In revising the text for these last five albums, I discovered a rather pressing urge to say something more about Billie Holiday and Captain Beefheart in particular. The first because her far-reaching shadow seemed to touch, almost to the point of obscuring, every other artist on the list; and the second simply because I find his music, and the personality that animated it, to be endlessly fascinating. Number Six: Billie Holiday: All or Nothing at All. In his meditative long poem … Read more

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Album cover for Blues the Common Ground by Kenny Burrell.

Ten Influential Albums: Numbers 1-5

Just as the Coronavirus settled in for its brutal, interminable visit, just as the remnants of life-as-we’ve-always-known-it shattered and collapsed around my ears, a friend nominated me for the Ten Album Challenge. In accepting this challenge, I agreed to post—on Facebook—the covers of ten albums that have influenced or inspired me in some meaningful way. Right at the beginning, it’s important to note what this isn’t. It’s not a Top-Ten List. These aren’t necessarily my favorite albums of all time. (After all, over time favorites change.) Rather, they are simply ten examples, chosen at random from many dozens, of 12-inch … Read more

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