In 2007, I wrote my first “Seeing Green” piece while stranded in Princeton’s student center (I went to the public rival-down-the-road, Rutgers) as my boyfriend coached swim practice. The column, “Oil for Breakfast,” detailed the myriad invisible ways fossil fuels support our daily lives — fueling the machine to fix the nitrogen to fertilize the corn to feed the pig to make the sausage, for example.
VICTORIA, BC — I spend a lot of time fear-mongering when I write a column. I think about the world’s numerous problems and how to convey them in non-technical terms. I list the ways these problems affect us directly and brainstorm metaphors for their severity. Most of these tidbits don’t make it into the final piece, but my columns do fall largely on the gloomy side.
As a teaching assistant for the pilot section of Bio 44Y, I spend Wednesday afternoons accompanying 10 students of field ecology to Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. Only five miles from the main quad, we’ve battled rattlesnakes and squeezed past poison oak — but the nearest I’ve come to disaster was almost letting a wasp fly into our class van.
Between Easter’s religious reminders and a molecular evolution class overdose of population genetics, I shouldn’t have been surprised to wake up yesterday from an unsettling dream about taking my midterm exam on Noah’s Ark. The ocean was rising, Noah was hustling animals aboard, and I was battling asthma (thanks, furry animal allergies). But what bothered me most about all this wasn’t that I’d forgotten the formula for heterozygosity. It was that there were only two animals of every kind.
On any given Saturday, if you run into Mike and Philip, you‘re likely to find them covered in dirt. My friends recently dug into a new pursuit: gardening. At present, this means incubating delicate seedlings on windowsills while they haul bags of topsoil from garden store to garden plot, adding nutrients and substrate for their future vegetables.
I love wood. I love my mahogany shelf, carried across the country from a high school workshop to my college dorm room, to grad school in Boston and across the country to Stanford. I love fires and the firewood waiting patiently outside my apartment for the next camping trip.