The Search for a Common Language

Utah State University Press, 2005


Edited by Melody Graulich and Paul Crumbley



This major gathering of writers on the environment will be a valuable contribution to environmental studies and to environmental education. It is extremely well written and well organized. Its inclusiveness across disciplines, and its intelligent focus on environmental education may well help improve the field and shape subsequent publication. -Terrell Dixon, editor of City Wilds: Essays and Stories about Urban Nature



From my essay, “The Pleiades,” adapted from a chapter in Walking Nature Home:


Nearly every winter of my childhood, my parents packed us into the camper and set out for the long drive to visit my grandmother Chris and my grandfather Olav, my dad’s parents, at their retirement place on the Gulf Coast of Florida. On the way, we’d stop at parks and monuments, visiting Civil War battlefields and Indian mounds, antebellum mansions and cypress swamps, learning the stories of the landscape we passed through.


At my grandparents’, we’d walk the boardwalk at a local state park, looking for birds; we’d putter out the canal in the boat with my granddad; we’d head to the beach to collect shells and swim. And whenever my brother and I came inside to rest, grandmother Chris told us stories. 


She loved the sound of language, the ring and rhyme of it. She knew Robert Burns’ poetry by heart, and could recite it in a Scottish burr, rolling her Rs and transforming her precise Vermont Vowels into “bonny braw Scot.” She recited nonsense rhymes just for the fun of them, and read from her favorite children’s authors, including Robert Louis Stevenson and A. A. Milne. She sang songs about Bonnie Prince Charlie and Nessie, the monster of Loch Ness. She told tales of selchies, the magical water creatures that turn from seal in the ocean to human on land; of kelpies, Scottish water witches; and of lairds and their ladies, castles, dragons, and the clans with their plaids. …