Steve Cotler

Steve Cotler

Category Archives: Nature

Walnuts and Squirrels and WHAT? Oh, my!

I have two walnut trees in my front yard. Every year I engage in a multi-month skirmish with the resident tribe of squirrels. Over the 17 years we have lived here, I have employed several techniques to protect my crop: some legal, some sporting, some questionable. The cumulative scoreboard shows me somewhat ahead (to be […]

Subway Cave

Some 20,000 years ago, a volcanic eruption sent gouts of lava into what is now Northern California’s Hat Creek Valley. This molten rock, like any liquid, flowed downhill, gravity pulling it into the lowest channels. These rivers moved slowly, the sides and top cooling as they touched ground and air. A hardened skin slowly formed […]

Lost! (Episode 4: St. Croix)

A mile south of our camp, we found a fallen sign next to a broken road leading uphill and west: Scenic Route. Our now-crumpled map, provided free at the airport days earlier by hopeful advertisers, echoed the invitation: Scenic Route. Our eyes met, questioned, then agreed. A right turn, and we were adventure-borne. In minutes […]

Chilean Earthquake Energy

This morning’s devastating earthquake in Chile (8.8 on the Richter scale) had an energy equivalent of approximately 15.8 gigatons of TNT (31,600,000,000,000 lbs). To put that in perspective, it is about as much energy as would be released by 300 of the largest thermonuclear bombs ever built (the USSR’s Tsar Bomba, detonated in Novaya Zemlya […]

Blue Moon Bloops

According to almost every online source that commented on it, the round disk in the sky on the last day of 2009 was a “blue moon,” a term commonly used for the second full moon in any calendar month. Commonly—and erroneously. The internet offers near-instant access to information. It is ironic that in some cases […]

Verlyn Klinkenborg’s “February Traces”

wild turkey tracks This short piece, from the Opinion page of The New York Times (2/2/09), is unpretentious, evocative writing. Read it aloud…slowly. Up here in the country, the world gets a used-up look a day or two after a February snowfall. Dust drifts over the fields from the dry roads, the corn stubble begins […]

P(achy)casso? — Elephant Painting an Elephant

An excited correspondent sent me a link to this video of an elephant painting a picture of an elephant. YouTube –  Elephant painting an elephant It is an engaging video, and comments on other websites from eyewitnesses (most often reporting their visits to Thailand) to such “artwork creation” give good evidence that this is not […]

Mephitis Mephitis

mephitis mephitis: North American striped skunk The odor of skunk is very different up close than it is far away. A wee bit-o-skunk is sharp and somewhat lemony…stinky, definitely apprehendable, but not outrageously offensive. Full-skunk, however, clouding thickly outward from the furry hotness of a thoroughly swacked pet dog, is an altogether different experience. It […]

Flowers Bugged Me

Everything grew easily where I grew up. In the long Southern California seasons of sun and moderate warmth, there was no challenge. I suspect, looking back, that such gardening ease actually produced a glory of flowering plants, but there are only two in my childhood memory: zinnias and nasturiums. When I was eight, I planted […]