By Nancy Geyer, with audio : 4th Annual Nonfiction Contest Winner, Judged by Kathryn Miles
One Sunday afternoon in late summer, in an industrial park in Ithaca, New York, a man with a keen eye for detail flagged down a police officer to report a possible child abduction. After additional officers were called to the scene to canvass the city’s south and west neighborhoods, the police department issued a news release seeking assistance from the public.
By Emily Wortman-Wunder, with audio : 4th Annual Nonfiction Contest Finalist, Judged by Kathryn Miles
Air pushes from the mouth of the Henderson Molybdenum Mine like the breath of something sleeping, heavy and stale and subterranean. I stand awkwardly with the rest of the tour group at the edge of the company cafeteria, our mine-issued irrigation boots gritting against the vinyl tile floor, our hard hats and safety glasses reflecting the glint of the overhead fluorescent lights.
By Jen Hirt, with audio : 4th Annual Nonfiction Contest Finalist, Judged by Kathryn Miles
It’s a Viking-vast ocean, cold as starfish shadow. Tide pools claim their shores and barnacles drain a crispy suck of a sound. My Labrador gulps saltwater and gags and recovers and takes more. Neither he nor I are from this land—we know a shallow murky river back home.
Prose by Rick Bass
Paintings by Elizabeth Hughes Bass
It wasn’t like I put those old things—rocks, football, hunting—away in a box or closet or attic or basement somewhere, but instead more as if I set them down on a beach and got into a small boat with these three other people and pushed out into a harbor, mid-morning on a fine day—as if all that had come before had been a dream—and then rowing, further and farther, with the scent of things changing the more we got out toward the open water, and the sound of waves as they lapped against the sides of the boat sounding different—the boat’s buoyancy, and indeed, our own, different, farther from that harbor. The air, the quality of the light, becoming different too.
By Beth Baker
“What part of town did we live in?” I ask, cradling my cell phone against my shoulder as my mouse wanders along the wide highways transecting the city. My Dad and I recently discovered Google Earth as a means of taking a virtual walk down memory lane together. The streets seem so innocuous on the computer screen, though daily news reports suggest otherwise.
Prose by Claudia Kousoulas
Photography by George Kousoulas
Parking garages are among the most unloved and unobserved structures in architecture. They keep our environments functioning and our lives moving, but we don’t expect them to deliver joy or enlightenment. In Miami Beach, however, architects have used light to highlight space, surface, and movement in these utilitarian spaces, creating the very best kind of architecture—functional and ennobling.
Earth, Rock, and Craft on the Grand Canyon Trail Crew
By Nathaniel Brodie, with audio and image gallery
Piñon and juniper roots dangled into the open space once occupied by stone, roots that had wormed between the wallstones and wedged them apart as they fattened with age. Soil spilled from the breach. The Civilian Conservation Corps workers who’d built this wall sometime between 1933 and 1942 had used dirt instead of rock as backfill, and all that soil, year after year, had been inundated by snowmelt, frozen, then thawed, then frozen again—the pulsing, sodden earth working against the wall’s weakest connections. The wall rose out of a steep slope of decayed rock; we could see, where the wall still stood, how the slope had slipped from beneath the foundation, undermining the entire structure.
Essay and Photographs by Tamie Marie Fields, with audio
The waves come in waves. They come in translucent-green, fanned-out rays. They pour in rhythmic heaves toward the beach between us and the lagoon. They come in differently to this, our shallow harbor. They come in, exposed and transparent. They pound toward the crescent-moon-shaped beach on the spit’s other side, shushing those pebbles, wearing them smooth.
By Mark Spitzer
When I lit off for Texas in October, I had no idea what the story was supposed to be. To get the research travel grant from my university, I explained that my investigation on “the changing gar-scape on the Trinity River” would examine the effects of the new state laws for alligator gar. Meaning I intended to evaluate the management plans on this fishery now that commercial fishing and bowhunting had been reduced. But as I told my pal Minnow Bucket―who was just as psyched to catch a big-ass gator gar―my real goal was a seven-footer.
By Julene Bair
Used to be you could see the place from miles away—not only because my grandfather built a grand house in 1919, but because he chose the highest land around. High Plains Farm, he painted in white letters on our red barn. Now all you can see is the silhouette of a pivot sprinkler.
By Sonya Huber, with audio : 3rd Annual Nonfiction Contest Winner, Judged by Christopher Cokinos
Fall in love with a blue-faced interstate sign for highway 35-W in Minneapolis; ache and hold back tears because Minnesota winters are so cold and the sign has no choice but to shudder and brave the wind like a ragged prayer flag.
By Josh Shear : 3rd Annual Nonfiction Contest Finalist
That moment when you’re screaming downhill into the valley, two hours out of Las Vegas into the setting sun with some too-clean ska music breaking through the speakers and into the air through the just-cracked windows.
By Jacqueline Kolosov, with audio : 3rd Annual Nonfiction Contest Finalist
West Texas: by midday, the fierce heat of early June has climbed to 103. About four o’clock the wind picks up, and the sky turns that smudgy blur of brownish-pink that suggests a coming rain, though the woman has lived here long enough to know that such a sign can prove to be a tease.
By Marco Wilkinson : 3rd Annual Nonfiction Contest Finalist
We are all boats alternately swimming, treading, and floating on any current that can bear us. The New York Times tells me that only one in ten cells in the human body is human. In a sweat lodge, the leader tells me we are floating on a turtle’s back in a great water.
By Jolie Kaytes, with image gallery
In the blast zone of Mount St. Helens, I have been drawing. With my eyes and with my pen I follow jagged ridge lines, the Us of valleys. I move through fallen forests, into snaking drainages, across billowy landslides, tracing contours, ticking textures.
By Charles Goodrich
How can we encourage the making of long-range commitments when things seem to be changing so fast? Against the tide of haste and short-sightedness, I want to share a couple of stories from the field about how scientists foster long-term research and how a program that hosts creative writing residencies has tried to adopt some similar strategies.
By Cal Freeman
On winter days like this, I think of visiting my Aunt Nancy in Northville Psychiatric Hospital. Seeing Northville at 14 was like being at a circus freak show. The ladies in her ward were not bearded, but many of them had that dim five o’clock shadow that comes with experimental psychotropics. There was general excitement in the ward over the carton of cigarettes my mother carried.
INDIGENOUS NATIONS’ RESPONSES TO CLIMATE CHANGE
By Zoltán Grossman
Native peoples have faced massive ecological and economic changes in the past — from colonialism, genocide, epidemics, industrialization, and urbanization — yet many Native cultures have survived against overwhelming odds. The climate crisis is the latest, and perhaps the ultimate challenge, but this history may make Native peoples better equipped than the non-Native society that is reliant on chain grocery stores and shopping malls.
WIND POWER’S ASCENT IN RURAL KANSAS
By Philip Warburg
The wind is at times a frighteningly destructive force in Kansas life. Killer tornadoes have leveled entire towns and have made tornado chasing a precarious summer sport for daredevils seeking grim moments of media attention. Yet it also offers a vast and largely untapped source of clean, renewable energy. According to a recent government survey, Kansas could install sufficient wind power to supply almost 90 percent of America’s total present-day power consumption.
By Hal Crimmel
If you want to raft a remote Class V desert river, one with risky, demanding rapids, you want some assurance that the river you have chosen is familiar even if it isn’t. You might first check the geology — canyons formed in soft, easily eroded rock tend to contain predictable rapids forgiving to rafts, promising a margin of safety on unfamiliar water in most conditions.
By John R. Campbell
On Thursday morning I arrive where the well-groomed sales staff hover, where senior citizens speed-walk, where young mothers push strollers with a determined ease. Extravagantly real tropical plants soar above me. Fluorescent light kindles the general air, while sharply-focused halogen lights illumine the displays, so that the merchandise mimics light itself, bathing the world in a material glow.