Pining for the Hills

The word pining comes from the Latin, poena, which means “to suffer.” And even though it seems natural to us this time of year that the word should be related somehow to the name of the conifer, pine and to pine come from very different sources. In either case, we’re pining for the pines, so…

My “Grown-Up” Christmas List

I have this suspicion that very little of human communication is original. There seem to be “scripts” for a huge variety of situations, and they are odd individuals who deviate from the lines we know that are expected of us. No one really answers the passing “How are you?” Chatting with a stranger almost always…

Our Holiday Shopping Guide to Great Books

Hello, and Merry Christmas! The two of us writing this site both have undergraduate degrees in English Literature, so when it comes to great gift ideas, we often turn to books. We love ’em, and books like Last Child in the Woods and Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids have provided the philosophical ground and inspiration for…

Stocking Stuffing

Just a bit ago, I posted about slightly big holiday gifts that you could get, that would encourage your kids to brave the winter and get outside. But they were all a bit expensive.  Without commenting on the various levels of gift giving and grousing on philosophically, here are some smaller, “stocking stuffer” (what would…

Christmas Is an Outdoor Holiday

There was a time when people spent much more time outdoors. Life was agrarian, nomadic, or often migratory. The Native Americans in the Great Lakes region would spend the winters camping away from the big lakes. They might plant a few crops in the spring before heading north for a summer of pulling fish out…

Taking a Trip, with Your Bike as a Ship

“Up, up, and away—[on] my beautiful, my beautiful…” —The 5th Dimension Le Père de Grace et de Pommes de terre suggested I write a little bit for you about bicycle touring. This is sort of a loaded question. Not because I’m so very knowledgeable from experience, but more because I’m long-winded and full of trivia….

Christmas Gifts for the Little Explorer

Though it feels to me still that it’s only late summer, my right brain knows that with Thanksgiving’s  passing, any parent with a shred of sense needs to have a plan either in place or soon to be put into place regarding Xmas gifts. Even if you choose to give your child a pile of…

Talking Turkey with Dinner’s Country Cousins

I was recently searching eBay for vintage outdoors gear. In particular I was looking to see what I could find by searching the name “J C Higgins,” which is an old Sears brand. There’s a lot of fascinating stuff on there, but one thing in particular caught my attention and sent me scurrying down another…

Mountain Biking Grows Up

Once upon a time, a new sport was born. And men as well as some women took part in it. It started out as a low-rent activity. Road cyclists would scour junkyards for old cruiser bikes, and thought it might be fun to climb to the top of Mt. Tamalpais in Northern California and see…

The Beetle and the Damage Done: Kids Manipulating Nature?

I don’t know why it took me this long to write this story. It’s been the underlying current of my entire life. We don’t need to go into psychological reasons why this might be, though my own mind offers a few quite quickly. Nevertheless, let me get to my point. I think it’s good for…