I’ve reached a stage in life where writing is a distinct pleasure, and I use it to indulge a series of personal fascinations. The evolution of landscape painting. The aerodynamic mysteries of the airplane wing. Rural development, the ecology of natural grasslands, the geology of the Great Spokane Flood. And more of that ilk. I call myself a scientist, but really I’m a “gentleman scientist” because I flunked Algebra.
For me, science is the undiscovered country of the literary imagination. As a reader, fiction has always been my first love, followed closely by scientific journals. So as a writer, I like to threaten the fortified boundaries of non-fiction, shouting and waving my arms. More and more I gravitate to story as our primal form of communication.
My childhood was spent in 1950’s southern California, in a new invention called the suburb. My father’s powerful attraction to fishing prompted a move to a tiny coastal community on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, where I spent a couple of glorious years roaming beaches and fields and forests. We then moved to Seattle, where I attended a multi-racial highschool, played football, read Dostoevskii and channeled the beatniks. Hitchhiked around Europe after graduation, and then answered Kennedy’s call, spending a couple of fascinating years in Colombia as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Meanwhile Vietnam loomed larger and larger. I returned to the US in the fall of 1968, to race riots and body counts. The notion that my government would ask me to help peasant farmers in the Peace Corps, and then ask me to kill them in Vietnam, did not sit well. Tumultuous years followed, ending in our move to Canada. We have six children (thank god for socialized medicine!). All of us are proud Canadians, but America still tastes of home waters to me, in spite of the politics.
I work as an ecologist, specializing in grasslands, grazing management and fire ecology, and I write in my spare time. In the last century, the physicists interpreted science for the public; in this next beleaguered century, we ecologists will get our turn.
Places I’ve lived or worked:
- San Pedro, Pasadena and Fullerton, California
- Dungeness, Seattle, Twisp, Tonasket and Omak, Washington
- Las Cruces, New Mexico
- San Felipe de Ocoyotepec, Mexico
- Riosucio (Choco) and Zuluaga (Huila), Colombia Zagreb, in the former Yugoslavia
- Munich, Germany
- Saskatoon, Regina and Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan
- Nelson, Vancouver and Summerland (our current home), British Columbia