Carolina Parakeet | America’s Forgotten Parrot

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Katrine Claassens, 2018

2014 marked the 100-year anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. People lauded the species in articles, videos, and celebrations. Nearly 50 articles—found everywhere from NPR, to the Atlantic, to the New Yorker—were published about the death of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, at the Cincinnati Zoo.

In these articles, we learned that R.W. Shufeldt, the man who dissected Martha, left her heart untouched (a fitting tribute), and that Martha’s specimen travels first class with a special handler. We learned there was a memorial launched at the Cincinnati Zoo, a place that has become a reliquary to Martha, with passenger pigeon-themed exhibits and a statue to mark her passing.

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Why I Will Always Love Pests

There is a part of me that will always love pests like pigeons or houseflies or starlings. It’s the part of me that thinks the maligned often have their own value, their own stories to tell when we get to know them.

After all, I once was that person. I was teased, as so many kids were teased, as being without value.

So when I see a maligned animal species that people have assigned as being without value (often through very little thought or speculation), I see myself in it.

Besides, there is something respectable, even heroic, in the scrappy survivor.

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It’s Wildfire Season Again In The West

I love the arid, mountain landscapes of the West. I love the native wildflower and animal species that live in mountain ecosystems. I love the aridity of the desert. I love its total lack of humidity and 100+ degree heat.

But with the aridity of the western landscape comes fire season with its forest fires and wildfires.

Last summer there were forest fires burning in Idaho and two adjoining states at around the same time. The smoke from all of them was blowing down into Boise. For weeks, the city was ensconced in a hazy layer of burning, lung-clogging smoke.

This is normal.

It’s like that in every state in the West.

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On Our First Loves In Writing

keats first loves in writing second attempt

John Keats was someone for whom, and around whom, my life revolved for a certain period of time in my early twenties. And because we don’t often acknowledge who we were or have been enough when we think of who we are, I want to tell our story.

By our story, I mean both I and Keats story and I and poetry’s story, for they intersect quite a bit. 

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On Walking Alone at Night

night walking first and best attempt

The walker always finds solitude, but most especially at night. There is something about walking alone at night. I love it. When you walk at night, you are cocooned in silence. You can be alone, anonymous.

At night, people can’t see you, and you can’t see them. There are no people, and therefore no politeness to people. Politeness is a form of acknowledging you are not alone.

In the dark, we can be easy in ourselves without the expectations of others.You can walk among the houses without walking among them.

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