The Awl: “Being Female
I know I’m a little late with this, but the issue of discrimination against women in publishing and reviewing isn’t going anywhere, and Eileen Myles’ response to the troubling data released by VIDA last month really cuts to the chase.

So I wrote five pages of pussy wallpaper and gave it to the editors at VICE who did publish it but confided in me that the money people really had to be convinced that it was not entirely disgusting. With all the dirty and violent and racist things that VICE has done, this was um a little troubling. Do we really want to send that kind of message to our readers. What kind of message is that. I guess a wet hairy soft female one. I mean a big giant female hole you might fall into never to be heard from again.

Wicktionary: “dingle

A small, narrow or enclosed, usually wooded valley.

How can I have lived in a dingle for 40 years and not known it? “Plummer’s Dingle.” Hmm.

Plummer’s Hollow blog: “Fisher caught on video in Plummer’s Hollow
More great trail cam footage from our neighbors, Paula and Troy Scott, this time of a fisher, which is a once-extirpated and still rare species of large mustelid, bigger than a pine marten but smaller than an otter.

O.K., I know some of you don’t want to click through and read my deathless prose, so here’s the video:

Watch on YouTube.

Wordyard: “Another misleading story reports that blogs ‘r’ dead
The New York Times had a kind of half-baked article last week titled “Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter.” This has become a persistent meme on the part of the old media, and probably represents wishful thinking, because the data don’t bear out the contention. Scott Rosenberg’s response was right on the money:

Maybe we’ll end up with roughly ten percent of the online population (Pew’s consistent finding) keeping a blog. As the online population becomes closer to universal, that is an extraordinary thing: One in ten people writing in public. Our civilization has never seen anything like it.

So you can keep your “waning” headlines, and I’ll keep my amazement and enthusiasm.

The New Yorker: “The Arrival of Enigmas: Teju Cole’s prismatic debut novel, ‘Open City’
To say that James Wood loved Open City might be an understatement. “Teju Cole has made his novel as close to a diary as a novel can get, and his narrator is both spectator and flâneur.” (As close to a diary? Don’t you mean blog?) Also, if you’re a reader of the Sunday Times, I think you’ll find a glowing review of Open City there, too.

BBC: “Dinosaur named ‘thunder-thighs’
More like karate thighs. (The artist’s conception is great!)

Yale Environment 360: “Alien Species Reconsidered: Finding a Value in Non-Natives
Science writer Carl Zimmer examines some new studies suggesting that total eradition of invasive species might not always be the best idea: for example, “Introduced cats were eradicated from Maquarie Island off the coast of Australia, after having driven two of the island’s bird species extinct. But with the cats gone, an introduced population of rabbits exploded, devouring the native plants.” Read the comments too, though. (via Chris Clarke on Twitter)

Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog: “Interviewe wyth Margarethe Atte-Woode
Advyce for beginninge makeres of ficcion and poesie. Ful heartily Ich LOLd. (via Nic S., who incidentally is also guest-blogging at Best American Poetry this week)

Watch on Vimeo.
Hannah Stephenson did a screen-capture video of the composition process for one of the poems she blogged last week, then speeded it up by about ten times. Be sure to expand it to full screen by clicking the four-arrows icon on the lower right, so you can read the poem as it grows and mutates. This is more or less how I work, too, except that I can’t listen to music while I’m writing. In her blog post about it, Hannah says, “It feels a bit like I’m inviting you into my brain…welcome! Come on in.”

buck rub locust

I see from the photo that it was snowing when I snapped this. I was intent on the flayed tree, this black locust savaged by a horny buck who must’ve bent it halfway to the ground to reach so far up its trunk. It’s O.K. with me; the tree isn’t one we necessarily want to survive. It’s one of the advance scouts for the forest’s never-ending attempt to take back the ground it lost 150 years ago to field and orchard.

Black locusts are good at that: rhizomatic, nitrogen-fixing, fast growing… the perfect native colonizer. As fast as we prune them out of the old meadow, they reappear, new sprouts capable of growing five feet in a year. The tree in the photo looks like a three-year-old to me. Armed for combat of a sort with its short thorns (nothing like those on a wild honey locust), a black locust sapling seems like good match for a deer’s antlers, which must be flayed themselves and then polished and honed: trees that live a single season and never sprout a leaf.

fungal log

In the black cherry woods near the Far Field, time and rot have stripped all the bark from a tree brought down by ice five winters ago. Now its bare trunk burns with new life, albeit not the kind typically featured in parables about self-transformation. I look around for saplings in the openings the storm made, and spot a few, but almost none of them are hickories or oaks.

I have seen this forest devastated again and again: by gypsy moth caterpillars 30 years ago and by ever-more-frequent ice storms, the result no doubt of the changing global climate. Will stands like this ever revert to closed-canopy forest, or will they continue to thin until half the mountain is covered by savanna and dominated by fast-growing colonist species such as black locusts, black cherries, striped and red maples, and the alien tree-of-heaven?

It’s easy to get depressed and forget that whatever happens, however stark a desert we make, it will still be beautiful. On a cloudy late afternoon in the monotone winter woods, this allegedly dead tree was by far the most colorful thing.


2011 is the International Year of Forests. For the New Year’s edition of the Festival of the Trees, which will be hosted at the British blog Nature’s Whispers, we’re asking bloggers to share tree-related plans or resolutions, or simply to reflect on their relationship with forests. As for me, I hope to see our family’s 640 acres of mountaintop land given long-term protection through a conservation easement by next year’s end. Uncertain as the future of the forest may be, we need to give it at least a fighting chance.