Essays for Hope and Reflection

Gary Nabhan: Solar idea is a viable, job-creating option to border wall

Because I have lived within 20 miles of the U.S./Mexico boundary much of my life, the complexity of the debate regarding President Trump’s border wall proposal is not lost on me. I have worked in communities on both sides of the Arizona-Sonora border, the border in the world with the greatest disparity for dwellers on its two sides.

Flowers, Creatures & Contemplatives Embracing One Another in the Wilderness World

Among the earliest memories imprinted in my mind: Sitting alone in the sands of the Indiana Dunes when I was three, maybe four years old. Listening.

The late afternoon sun was cascading diagonally down through the canopies of oaks & cottonwoods above me. A squabble of Blue Jays appeared to be my only companions for well over an hour. I became mesmerized by their presences.

Jim Harrison was More Than Just a Pretty Face and Patagonia’s Finest Writer

Less than a week before Jim Harrison passed from our immediate presence, I had the presence of sitting at a picnic table at the Wagon Wheel Saloon drinking beer with him, his daughter Jamie, his bird-hunting partner J.B. Miller, and my wife Laurie.

Although Jim was likely suffering chronic pain from back injuries, as well as from shingles and gout, he spoke with great affection and gratitude that his daughter Jamie had come down from the Livingston, Montana to spend time with him.

Agrarian Ecology

One might wonder whether any twenty-first-century preoccupation with agrarian values, agrarian ecology, and agrarian ideals comes as too little, too late. Less than 2 percent of the North American public lives in rural areas outside towns, cities, and suburbs, and less than half of the world’s population now lives outside cities.

But the New Agrarianism, which is emerging globally, is not restricted to the rural domain, nor is it necessarily a romantic desire to reenact social behaviors and mores associated with rural populaces in bygone eras.

An Apology to Young Agrarians

Before anything else, I want to apologize for previously failing to acknowledge your value to our society at large, and to more fully support you in gaining traction with your endeavors. In four decades of writing about farming and ranching, I am afraid I have missed the mark by not writing about the issues most critical to your health and well-being.

I have been so attracted to helping save the seeds, breeds, soil, and water of food-producing land that I failed to notice that, first and foremost, those resources need bright, passionate, energetic, and innovative farmers and farmworkers if they are to survive and thrive.

Stalking Oregano in the Wilds of Mexico

Few American gourmands realize that most of the oregano they use to spice up sauces, meats, salads and vinegars—whether it be Greek or Mexican in origin—is hand-harvested from wild habitats. Although many varieties of oregano can be cultivated and irrigated as perennial crops, their aromatic oils become diluted as their leaves enlarge under well-watered conditions.

These same aromatic oils—called thymol and carvacol— become more concentrated, intensely flavorful and pungently memorable when the crisp, dry diminutive leaves of oreganos are harvested from deserts or from salt-sprayed coastal landscapes.

Reading Pope Francis on Peace, Justice & Caring For Creation

One of the more remarkable features of Pope Francis visit to North America was his request that we remember and reflect upon the lives of certain charismatic Americans whom few U.S. citizens would have placed into the same category of greatness: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and the newly sainted Junipero Serra.

What do these five persons have in common? Why has each of them been either vilified or ignored by certain Americans?

Becoming “Laudito Si” Franciscans of the Rivers and Seas in the Era of Mining Spills

The recent toxic spill of 3 million pounds of mine wastes in the Animas-San Juan watershed is roughly I received my “call” year ago to become a Franciscan after days of solitude and prayer in the wilderness of the Four Corners region.

It is also the same watershed where I once caught five catfish for breakfast while co-leading an Outward Bound-style rite of initiation in tributaries to the east of Lake Powell.