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Essays

  • Grace behind glass

    Grace behind glass

    An fish ladder on the Columbia River provides a view of unexpected wonders.

  • Us and them vs. all the rest

    Us and them vs. all the rest

    During the labor struggles of the early 20th century, rough-and-tumble Butte, Mont., survived as a community because of -- rather than despite -- its ethnic diversity.

  • Fighting the logic of fire

    Fighting the logic of fire

    When her new home is threatened by the Fourmile Fire in Boulder, Colo., a writer reassesses her love for the West.

  • The Western Lit Blues

    The Western Lit Blues

    A Western writer is tired of being typecast as a Western writer.

  • The Second Second City

    The Second Second City

    A native Chicagoan who now lives in Montana goes searching for New Chicago, Mont.

  • The Terrain of This Ambition

    The Terrain of This Ambition

    A writer wrestles with the huge shadows cast by the men and women of “Literary Utah.”

  • A brush with cowboy culture

    A brush with cowboy culture

    A former ranch kid who now lives in Denver has mixed feeling when her 2-year-old tries "mutton-busting" at a rodeo.

  • Ready ... or not

    Ready ... or not

    Sometimes a close encounter with wildlife is a little too close for the wildlife's comfort.

  • Summer blizzard

    Summer blizzard

    Wonderful things are everywhere -- but you have to pay attention in order to see them.

  • Turning back the tide

    Turning back the tide

    A volunteer naturalist describes the unique beauty -- and fragility -- of California's Elkhorn Slough Reserve.

  • Guns -- and none

    Guns -- and none

    A woman who grew up with guns goes on to a life without them.

  • Nature illiteracy

    Nature illiteracy

    Many hikers are obsessed about correct identification of flora and fauna, but a stalwart few are fine with simply seeing a bird as a bird.

  • Walking Woman

    Walking Woman

    The Owens River is flowing again -- and Mary Austin's Land of Little Rain is rejoicing.

  • Little doses of danger

    Little doses of danger

    A formerly fearless outdoorswoman becomes unexpectedly wary once she becomes the mother of two children.

  • Crossing over

    Crossing over

    This particular city girl never wanted to live in a small mountain town – until she fell in love with one of the residents.

  • Out of the cubicle, into the canyon

    Out of the cubicle, into the canyon

    After he gets laid off from his job, a writer seeks consolation hiking in the Sierra Nevada.

  • East to the West

    East to the West

    A writer contemplates where the West begins, both in the landscape and in his life.

  • Good night, sweet trees

    Good night, sweet trees

    A scientist sees a Shakespearean tragedy unfold in the West’s dying aspen forests, victims of climate change.

  • The squeal of silence

    The squeal of silence

    Time spent alone in a cabin in the wild reminds a writer that silence is more than the absence of noise.

  • Drive that Hummer

    Drive that Hummer

    If you could find a Hummer that got perfect gas mileage and didn’t pollute, would you be willing to get behind the wheel?

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