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?


Short Stories


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Portrait of Audubon by John Syme.

Audubon Draws a Nude: A Commission He Couldn’t Refuse, Part One

When she stops him on the Rue Royale, she’s wearing a dark veil that makes it impossible to see her face. Even so, he can tell she is “a femelle of a fine form.” She speaks to him in French because she knows it’s his native tongue. Is he the man who draws the birds in black chalk? In fact, she knows quite a bit about him—she’s had him followed for days—and he knows nothing of her. Yes, he admits to working in that medium. Well in that case, she says, come to such-and-such an address in thirty minutes. Then … Read more

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Feature image for the Forktail post.

Fragile Forktail: The Most Elegant of Damselflies

All damselflies—the tiny, slimmed-down cousins of dragonflies in the order Odonata—are elegant creatures, but the Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) is in a class by itself. Is it the name alone that makes me think so? Fragility can make anything—whether it’s a bug or a piece of furniture—seem more graceful and refined; and the Fragile Forktail’s minute size and extreme thinness often give the impression that it’s only a breath away from expiring. But for me, its elegance lies more in color than in shape: in the male, a cool and restrained arrangement of black and green; in the female, a … Read more

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Feature photo for Bloodroot post.

Spring Flowers: Bloodroot, a Native Knockout

When I’m outside in early spring, I find myself not so much longing for the sight of something green as lusting after the color yellow. The rich yellow on a Meadowlark’s breast, the goldshine of Dutch Master daffodils, the chalky yellow of Forsythia flowers—these slake something so strong that it feels like a physical need, a thirst that’s built up inside me all through winter’s greyness. But maybe nothing satisfies that thirst better than Bloodroot, a wildflower native to eastern North America, with its stand-up yellow stamens surrounded by the brightest of white petals. My first sight of Bloodroot in … Read more

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Winged Creatures Photo Gallery