Why We Write

We write in order to share, for one thing—to share ideas, discoveries, emotions. Alone, we are close to nothing. In prolonged solitude, as I’ve discovered, we come very close to nothingness. Too close for comfort. Through the art of language, most inevitable of the arts—for what is more inevitable than language?—we communicate to others what […]

Autumn Begins

Autumn begins for me with the first day on which the stags roar. Because the wind is nearly always in the west, and because the fences keep the bulk of the stags to the higher ground above Camusfeàrna, behind the low mass of littoral hills, I hear them first on the steep slopes of Skye […]

An Immense Diamond

Last week I was away, in a cabin deep in the woods, recollecting myself. No papers. No radio. No phone number. I go away as often as I can, which is not very often. Sometimes I write. Mostly I don’t even think. I just contemplate—the forest, the world beyond it, myself, or the object of […]


Each Palo Verde is a miracle. It would be wonderful to know the complete life story of even one on the ridge, to know what coincidences, accidents, and bits of good fortune kept the bruchids, wood rats, and jack rabbits away. How long did the tree take to grow to its present dimensions? What droughts […]

Stepping Westward

I feel the land with my eyes, with my sense of balance, with all the details of how a breeze picks up perfumes off a hillside, the way a cloud is caught on the needles of a pine tree and is torn into mist, how wheat is grown in crescents along the slope of an […]