One of Rachel’s essays was selected for inclusion in the first volume of the BWCA Reader, a compilation of essays and stories about Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Volume 1 is on sale online, and hopefully coming to a Minnesota retail outlet near you!
“The Morning Dip,” The Field Line, Voyageur Outward Bound School. February 12, 2013.
I waved my hand in front of my headlamp, and my leather mitt reflected bluish light. Otherwise, I couldn’t tell that the headlamp was still on. Light had gathered gradually and inexorably since we’d stood up from breakfast. Two solitary clouds shone scarlet and gold in the low sky above the eastern shore of Disappointment Lake. Our thermometer read twenty-two below zero when we woke in darkness, and the morning was about to get colder. On calm mornings, we registered a consistent 4 degree drop in temperature even as the sun rose. At VOBS, we call this phenomenon the “morning dip.” What might cause this counterintuitive cooling?…
“2013 Prediction: Northern Lights Galore!,” News from the Field, Voyageur Outward Bound School. November 25, 2012.
“Autumn Colors Surprise the BWCAW,” News from the Field, Voyageur Outward Bound School. October 11, 2012.
Around 10pm on September 4th, 2012, fifteen Outward Bound instructors rode crammed in a van driving down MN-11, which roughly follows the border between Minnesota and Ontario. After twelve hours of driving back from the Bloodvein River, we were still hours from home. We resigned to not making it home before our midnight driving curfew. The prairie-turned-farms stretched flatly away from both shoulders. A past-full moon hung golden above the horizon. Few lights besides the moon threatened the total darkness of rural northern Minnesota…
I am often shocked by autumn in the Boundary Waters. I am used to the dead heat of summer, when the forest seems an uninterrupted sea of evergreen. Friendly firs insulate portages from the rest of the woods, and straight-trunked red pines form cathedral aisles in some campsites. Black spruce and tamarack plunge their roots into bogs, while gangly white pines tower above the forest canopy. The poplar and paper birch would easily melt into the green shoreline if not for their white bark. I sometimes overlook red maples until my canoe drifts close to them…“A Young Woman’s Debt,” Letter to the Editor, Seven Days, Burlington, Vermont. May 9, 2012
Kathryn Flagg is right to question whether we, the next generation of women, will rally to Madeleine Kunin’s “new” feminist agenda [“What Women Want Now,” May 2]. We have only recently realized that rights we take for granted — access to contraception and abortion, escape from subservience to husband or father, being welcome at historically male-dominated institutions — are in danger. It is time to reclaim our voices…“Searching for Squirrels, Finding the Night,” Field Notes and EcoBlog, University of Vermont. November 23, 2011.
A week ago, I joined my friend Teage (a Field Naturalist alum) and a group of his UVM students on an “owl prowl,” Teage’s own euphonic term for a night hike. We gathered at the edge of Centennial Woods, where gauzy tufts of white pines and bare hardwood twigs strained the clear moonlight. A wall of darkness met our eye-level gaze, while the raspy sounds of drying beech leaves in the understory added to a sense of disquiet. The primary goal for the evening was to listen for flying squirrels and call them in. Before we entered the darkness, however, we observed a requisite pre-night-hike ritual…“A Bypassed Giant,” Field Notes and EcoBlog, University of Vermont. September 16, 2011.
What’s the last amazing thing you overlooked? I discovered mine last Wednesday in Centennial Woods, a 65-acre natural area near the University of Vermont campus. A friend and expert naturalist was sharing his local knowledge with a group of undergrads, and I had tagged along. The familiar path turned to the left in front of me, but I looked at the woods beyond it as if for the first time. Gore-Tex dripping with unseasonably chilly rain, I stared unbelieving at the biggest white oak I’ve seen in Vermont. A white oak I’d never noticed before, despite passing it scores of times in the last year…