I found my old nature journal this week. My last entry, dated Fall 2008, inspired me to fulfill a dream I’ve been scheming for some time now. I woke up early Sunday morning to begin gathering schizocarps–those helicopters that fall from maple trees–from around my neighborhood. Thanks to the three friends who helped me gather these wonders throughout the day. I will still need to gather more before our next snow fall, if anyone else is interested in helping ūüôā¬†First I’ll share the journal entry, then I’ll tell you about my dream that will soon become reality…

Fall 2008
I have become enamored by schizocarps. Seriously?! Billions of twirly-birds all falling to the earth in unison?! Billions of winged maples-in-embryo spiraling over the Northern Hemisphere. Billions over BYU’s campus alone.
One afternoon I gathered 4 grocery sacks of schizocarps. It took no more than two hours with 2 of us gathering. The street gutters were lined with them. The grass cupped them like children hoarding candy on Halloween. The sidewalks were blanketed with them- all facing the way of the wind.
In the half-inch cracks between cemented sidewalk slabs, schizocarps were packed tightly, nose down, just like an over-zealous litter of piglettes all trying to get a mouthful of teat.
I like that metaphor: the Earth as a giant mammary gland, a wellspring of mother’s milk. Countless numbers of tongue-like roots pressing earth-ward, pulling in moisture and nutrients, grabbing hold to the solid ground. Filling and stabilizing. Supporting and nurturing.

My plan is to ¬†find a nice courtyard with high walls from which the thousands of schizocarps can be let loose. While the magical spirals descend, people will dance and frolic. Doesn’t it sound lovely? I’m excited to make it happen.

Let me know if you have a decent pile of schizocarps near your house.


fall must be a lover’s time.

After reading Emily Dickinson’s poem from my last post, I keep seeing yellow. Everywhere.

– golden amber beech leaves
– lemony yellow ginkgo leaves
– outer lining of the sunset
– etiolated tips of sprouts
– quince butter
– moon’s waning crescent
– under-exposed photo pigments on the Norway Maple
– Aspen…a whole clonal colony of them
– blistered plums
– carrot water
– squash
– reflection off the Great Salt Lake
– pile of Silver Maple leaves under a rope swing
– heart of a pansy
– unwatered grass
– apple’s patchwork skin
– Liquidambar styraciflua
– a schizocarp’s halo
– refracted light off praying mantis’ egg sac
– stained fingers from curried potatoes



Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,–
Prodigal of blue,
Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover’s words.

Thank you, Emily Dickinson, for helping me to appreciate
the spectacular colors of this season.

1300 miles in 4 days.

This summer I had the road-trip of a lifetime with my now adult brothers who were little mysterious¬†10 and 12 year-olds when I moved out of the house, way-back-when. We also brought along my cousin who hadn’t been out of a big city for two years (he just returned home from an LDS mission in Korea).

In four days we saw Zion National Park, Coral Reef Sand Dunes, the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Calf Creek in Escalante, Capitol Reef, and Arches. (yeah, it was a little fast, but I’m glad my brothers could experience a little more of this amazing landscape before heading back to Wisconsin).

Thanks for the adventures Aaron, Jordan, and Craig!

Some highlights:

1. A reflection of the red rocks in the upper emerald pools, Zion.

2. An amazing sun-speckled spot to eat lunch… and feed a few mosquitos, Zion.

3. Coral Reef Sand Dunes, near Orderville.

4. Breathtaking sunrise, all to ourselves, at Imperial Point, Grand Canyon, AZ.

5. Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park

6. Calf Creek, Escalante National Monument

7. Camping in Escalante, with my new car Artemis (more on her to come)…

8. Four elephants, Arches National Park

9. Delicate Arch (featured on Utah license plates), Arches.

10. And a striking full moon to guide us all the way back home!


For a few years now I’ve been welcoming in the new year by greeting the sun. This year at sunrise I hiked up a mountain with a dear friend…for eight hours…in 25 below zero weather. Stunning…in many ways.

hello from 30,000 feet above you

I’m currently flying tens of thousands of feet above planet earth. I wonder how many birds have flown higher than me? The highest soaring bird that we humans have recorded was a Ruppell’s Griffon vulture, who’s stunning flight met an untimely match with a jet engine at 37, 900 ft. How high was he capable of going?

Thanks to Delta’s free wi-fi I can at least show you some of the views such creatures are accustomed to!

The patterns of snow and cloud on the up-heaved earth are stunning.

“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean.

From it we have learned most of what we know.

Recently, we have waded a little out to sea,

enough to dampen our toes

or, at most, wet our ankles.

The water seems inviting.

The ocean calls.



-Carl Sagan


Summer Memory Stroll 2010

Fall is here in full force (nod to the full moon on the same day as the fall equinox)! While I anxiously await jumping into my first leaf-pile of the year, I thought I’d just give a little recap of some summer highlights.

  • Summer began as any well-respecting Wisconsinite might wish: with snow!

  • It did a number on my tomato plants, but my harvest is still plentiful. Here’s a look into my bag after a recent harvest from my community garden, and a photo I treasure of my¬†cantaloupe¬†babies. They are definitely adolescents now, but are still in need of the vine.

  • Early this summer I was¬†privileged¬†to be present when my sister was called and set-apart as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She will spend the next year-and-a-half living on a small northern island in the¬†Philippians, serving the people and teaching them about how the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring added happiness and peace to their lives.¬†Here’s a picture from the last time I saw her, as well as one she just sent home:

  • While the summer was still green and lush, I spend as many evening after work as possible roaming through the mountains:

  • Here’s a shot from one hike with my friend Kelsey- just days before she took off on a mission to Florida:

  • In June, my work flew me out to San Francisco to do some training at the nation’s oldest science museum, the Exploratorium. The PIE (Playful Inventive Exploration) training was hands-down some of the most inspiring ¬†education I’ve ever received. More to come shortly on how we’ve been using that training to inspire more innovation and creativity from the middle-schoolers I work with. Here is a picture of me outside the museum, inside the workshop space, and beside some lovely sea lions down on pier 39:
  • I flew on an overnight flight from CA to WI to spend a week in the great outdoors with my dear family. Here we all are under uncle Bob’s tarp. The thunderstorms helped us to get extra cozy!
  • I spent Independence Day with my brothers, sister-in-law, and nieces at the Bees Stadium. Nothing like thousands of people cuddled on blankets, watching small¬†explosions in the sky:
  • I also spent some time exploring natural hotsprings:
  • Discovered a new species of maple:
  • (kidding about the maple….well maybe. Have you ever heard of a variegated maple?)
  • Joined a group of daring souls on a search for the infamous kokanee:
  • Saw some sunsets that literally brought me to my knees:
  • Traveled through Utah wilderness with dear WI friends and family:
  • And just spent at much time as possible gleaning from the wisdom of dear Mother Earth: