Issue #61, Learning from Nature

Fall 2016

In this issue, we seek inspiration from the natural world—captured in powerful informative true stories. Deer antlers help surgeons build better prostheses, and scientists studying hibernation in arctic ground squirrels find a possible key to understanding Alzheimer’s disease. Biomimicry visionary Janine Benyus fights to restore natural balance on a parcel of land in Montana, and in Oregon, naturalists grapple with the ethics of killing one species of owl to protect another owl’s habitat.

Plus, how essay structures work on the human brain; 50 years of women writers exploring wilderness; hermit-crab essays; Thoreau’s remarkably elaborate journaling process; tiny truths; and more.


  • What's the Story? by Lee Gutkind
    From the Editor
  • Nature Mothers by Vivian Wagner
    From Rachel Carson to Cheryl Strayed, what women writers have found in the wild
  • An Apprentice to the World 
    Adelheid Fischer visits biomimicry expert Janine Benyus, who puts her theories to the test in her Montana backyard
  • How the Mind Works by Dave Madden
    The better we understand the brain's processes, the more artful our writing can be.

Table of Contents

From the Editor Lee Gutkind
An Apprentice to the World Adelheid Fischer
How the Mind Works Dave Madden
Nature Mothers Vivian Wagner
The View Through the Crack Yelizaveta Renfro
Into Every Life Some Rain Must Fall Debra Gwartney
Eulogy for an Owl Mary Heather Noble
The Missing Link to a Missing Limb Catherine Musemeche
Borneo’s Night Lights Wendy Bone
The Essay as Bouquet Suzanne Cope
Learning from the Bees Evan Edwards
Even in a Concrete Jungle Thérèse d'Auria Ryley
Engaging the Senses Jonita Davis
In Lieu of Flowers Jim Schneider


Wendy Bone

Wendy Bone is a Canadian writer who lives with her Indonesian husband and four spoiled kampong cats next to a rice paddy in West Java. She... read more

Suzanne Cope

Suzanne Cope is the author of Small Batch: Pickles, Cheese, Chocolate, Spirits, and the Return of Artisanal Foods and the upcoming Feeding... read more

Jonita Davis

Jonita Davis is a teacher, mother, and wife living on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Her work has appeared in the Establishment,... read more

Evan Edwards

Evan Edwards is a doctoral student in the philosophy program at DePaul University, where he is working on a dissertation on Walt Whitman... read more

Adelheid Fischer

Adelheid Fischer is assistant director of the Biomimicry Center at Arizona State University. She is also a writer who focuses on natural... read more

Debra Gwartney

Debra Gwartney is the author of Live Through This, a memoir, and the co-editor of Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape. She has... read more

Dave Madden

Dave Madden is the author of If You Need Me I’ll Be Over There and The Authentic Animal: Inside the Odd and Obsessive World of... read more

Catherine Musemeche

Catherine Musemeche is a pediatric surgeon and the author of Hurt: The Inspiring, Untold Story of Trauma Care, from which this essay is... read more

Mary Heather Noble

Mary Heather Noble’s writing is influenced by environmental issues and informed by her former career as an environmental regulator.... read more

Yelizaveta Renfro

Yelizaveta P. Renfro is the author of Xylotheque: Essays (University of New Mexico Press, 2014) and A Catalogue of Everything in the World... read more

Thérèse d'Auria Ryley

Thérèse d'Auria Ryley is a design anthropologist, urbanist, and writer. Her work explores the intersections of urban infrastructure and... read more

Jim Schneider

Jim Schneider is a writer and ex-expat currently rediscovering America. He has an MFA in creative writing from The New School. read more

Vivian Wagner

Vivian Wagner is an associate professor of English at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. Her work has appeared in Zone 3, the... read more