There's more to Christmas colors than meets the eye

| Dec 18, 2011

There's more to Christmas colors than meets the eye

The rotenburo (outdoor hot spring) that I most regularly frequent creates an excellent illusion of there always being a full moon bathing in its glow those soaking beneath. The careful (or perhaps coincidental?) placing of a pale-yellow dome light that shines through a gnarled, ...

Sarobetsu's a stopover to count on for wonders

| Nov 20, 2011

Sarobetsu's a stopover to count on for wonders

Gray predawn light suffuses the eastern horizon before crawling slowly across the landscape — but not before a rich clamoring reaches my ears. The swans are waking, and they are in earnest about moving on. The clamoring is their alert to one and all ...

In the wake of the Vikings

Nov 13, 2011

In the wake of the Vikings

At both its western and eastern extremes some 10,700 km apart in France and the Russian Far East respectively, the great, fused supercontinent of Eurasia breaks into fragments, into not quite matching fringes of islands. In the east, there are the likes of Hainan, ...

In the pink down on the Rio Negro

| Oct 16, 2011

In the pink down on the Rio Negro

Agreat splash, sounding as if a sumo wrestler had just belly-flopped into a swimming pool, echoed up through the wooden floor of my cabin. Yes, the floor. I was in the Brazilian Amazon and doing my best to sleep, in a cabin afloat on ...

Reflecting on icons of 'cute'

| Sep 18, 2011

Reflecting on icons of 'cute'

Although watching wildlife is not for everyone, countless hordes of visitors flock to zoos when tiger cubs or a Giant Panda baby first go on show, when penguins are on parade, or when young animals are present in the petting section. Why is that? ...

A blood donor to the masses

| Aug 21, 2011

A blood donor to the masses

The bug days are here again. Shades of green are deepening in the debilitating heat of a summer that’s made more of a hardship this year due to the post-March 11 energy-saving efficiencies required of us. Some creatures thrive in warmth, sunshine and summer ...

Of predators and prey

| Jun 19, 2011

Of predators and prey

The forest floor is a maze, a tangle, an adventure — all depending on one’s scale. Stems of sasa (dwarf bamboo) obscure much of the ground. Here and there the dark-leafed stems of evergreen Japanese plum yew sway gently, contrasting with paler, newly grown ...

May 29, 2011

Serendipities at every turn on this island 'pearl'

The sound of Buddhist chanting grew louder as my travel companions and I entered the compound around the “temple,” where flickering torches lit the smiling faces of sedately circling monks as the warm tones of their voices carried through the impenetrable darkness on a ...

Japan's mammalian riches

| May 15, 2011

Japan's mammalian riches

I came across my first bumblebees of the season as they were busily draining the nectar from a broad swath of Blue Corydalis. The delicate flower stems nodding in a light breeze looked delightful in the sunshine, while above them frothy willow catkins were ...