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"Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing" - Victor Hugo

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magicicada

About a month after I was born, billions of Brood X cicadas came out of the ground, mated, then died. Over the next few years, I learned to walk, to read, to count. I began and quit dance lessons, piano lessons, youth orchestra, soccer, basketball, tennis. I made friends and grew apart from them. I discovered the X-Files, make-up, boys, pop punk, Jagermeister....

Why are quiet cars reserved for trains?

Grubbs Vocational College, Library reading room Where do you go to read? There’s probably a chair or couch in your home where you read, but I’m talking about when you go somewhere to read. Out of personal preference or because homes can be chaotic or lonely, is there somewhere you go? I’ve keenly felt the loss of a place to read...

Gut Feelings

Drawing of the vagus nerve by Andreas Vesalius. Wellcome Trust collection “ “What even is consciousness, though?” my friend B wondered yesterday, squinting into the sun. The air was full of cottonwood dander. Floating on the breeze, the tufted white seeds looked like they were suspended in deep water. She was nervous about...

I love these darn bugs

I don’t actually remember that much about the cicadas’ last visit, in 2004. I remember turning onto my parents’ street and noticing how loud the trees were, filled with chorusing insects. But not much about the bugs themselves. Mostly what I remember is trying to convince bug skeptics that a cool thing was happening. My argument: It’s a fantastic...

Inside Out

Maybe it says something that one of my first crushes was on Slim Goodbody, a character who appeared on public television walking around with his insides out. He wore a bodysuit painted with images of tissues and organs and sang songs about respiration. There was something about all this that was irresistible—I mean, I thought he was cute, but the living...

In Search Of

Early on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago, my son and I headed out to hunt for morel mushrooms, which are pretty elusive here in New England. Though I’ve searched for them a bit the past few years, I have never yet found them. But I could see from a steady flow of photos in my local foraging group that they were out there. Morels enjoy the company...

Snapshot: Tree

In the city, during the pandemic, sometimes this view is my best look at nature for the day. But isn’t it grand? A lovely sunny tree, a starling. In spring: flowers. In summer: cicadas. Throughout the morning, light catches it in different ways. Sometime in the next few years, a new apartment building will appear in this view, but I think the tree is...

Uncle Bundy & the Technically Sweet

I like to run this post on Memorial Day; it first ran May 28, 2012. When I think about soldiers and Memorial Day, I think about Uncle Bundy, I’m not sure why — maybe because he stood so straight, not because he ever talked about the war, which he didn’t. Probably, though, it’s because of what this post says, that war, technology, and humans have been...

Grace

The anniversary week of George Floyd’s murder is a good time to revisit this post, which first appeared June 10, 2020. We still have so far to go, in the United States. Original artwork by the author.

Y’all Need this Word

Most people don’t adopt a new manner of speech in their 40’s, so when my husband recently started using the phrase “y’all” I wondered what was up. It wasn’t like his Swiss parents taught him to use this slang, and he’d grown up in Colorado, where y’all is uttered only by Texas transplants. After hearing him say y’all for something like the tenth...

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