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David Gessner

A Quiet Lie of Nature Writing

That morning, fog had chopped off the tops of the mountains, and then the afternoon rain, spiced with hail, hammered the roof of our house. But near dusk, sun slanted down through the openings between the foothills, and I decided…

Mapping the Country

Wallace Stegner believed that writing from and about the American West was ignored, and as he became known throughout his home region, he chafed against being considered regional—when considered at all—by the East. I remember watching a television interview with…

Elsewhere

There is always something missing. Is there always something missing? Yesterday I was lying in a hammock in a beautiful courtyard. It is summer now, but it was a coolish day, and a row of birches stood off to my left,

The Essay’s Place

We live in a time when essays are often bullied into being articles, when the marketplace and the Internet, both ever-hungry for action, serve to cattle-prod the lounging essayist out of his or her natural ambling pace and into something…

Good-bye to an Editor

  Over the last few years I have sometimes been listed on the Ecotone masthead as Editor-in-Chief. I like that, in a vain sort of way. “In-Chief” sounds powerful, something writers seldom get to sound. It makes me want to…

Clappers

I In the evenings, when I read and take notes in my journal, I am showered by applause. As you can imagine, it’s a warm and rewarding feeling. I work outside, or as close to outside as you can get…

Naming Our Place

I live in a development where all the streets are named after birds. To get home I pull in at Ivocet, pass Whinbrel and Kestral, and take a right on my road, Petral Court. There’s only one problem. Skim through…

Learning to Talk Bird

Today I am walking along the edge of the Cape Fear River searching for painted buntings, birds made up of patches of wild fauvist color—bluebird’s head, flaming belly, lime-green wings. But while this quest happily occupies my eyes, my mind…