I have always wanted to be a field biologist. I imagine Zen-like moments watching a leaf, hours and days that pass like a dream, sun-kissed, plant-besotted. I imagine, like so many others before me, a kind of rapture in nature and loss of ego. John Burroughs, an early American naturalist, wrote that he went to the woods “to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” In my own walks through the rural West, this echoes my experience exactly. I enlarge in nature. I calm down. The beauty of the world is a tangible solace—that such harmony exists, such elegance, the changing colors of sky, the lift and roll of land, a riverbank, and now a beetle flashing in the sun, an entrance into its perfect world. I am soothed, I am thrilled, and at the same time, eventually I get bored. Eventually I go home because my work (my writing, my students, my laundry) is elsewhere. But what if that employment, my engagement with the world, was right there, in the largeness and calm of nature itself? What if I were to become…a citizen scientist?
To order from Oregon State University Press, click on OSU, Diary of a Citizen Scientist
My historical fantasy Teresa of the New World is now available in bookstores and online. This young adult novel enters the dreamscape of the American Southwest in the sixteenth century, a world of conquistadors and plague and deep earth magic. Please sign up for one of ten copies being given away now at on Goodreads.