A Fire in the Mind

By Mary Ellen Hannibal  The other night an old friend from LA was in town and came to dinner.  He’d just finished adapting a nonfiction memoir for the screen – that’s what he does for a living.  He said he was pretty satisfied with his work, and had “followed the Joseph Campbell hero stuff” carefully, […]

Out of Nature: Of Webs and Pigs

By Jean Farrington E. B. White was a consummate stylist, a noted essayist, and an acclaimed children’s author.  He was also a quirky fellow who felt more at home in nature than with most people. The youngest of seven children and, probably an afterthought, he spent much time alone and haunted the stables, barns and […]


By Jean Farrington When I was a kid, my sisters and I played in the woods behind our house. We explored, we set up housekeeping, we picked berries and we hunted tiny toads and then let them go.  These woods seemed vast and deep though they were only a block wide.  It’s hard to imagine […]

OUT OF NATURE: Geography Wonks

By Jean Farrington I’ve often wondered about the effect of GPS systems on lowering the divorce rate.  My husband and I came close traversing the roundabouts of New Jersey on our way to friends in Haddonfield.  Not once, but several times.  In recent years, Nellie, our Garmin unit, (named in a nod to Hertz’s Never […]


By Jean Farrington From ground level, a grove of redwoods can be awe-inspiring and even overwhelming.  You can’t see where the trees end and are only presented with lengths of trunk.  Imagine what it must be like to be at the top of one of these giants and able to navigate the limbs and branches […]

Visual Imagery

By Jean Farrington Oliver Sacks is no stranger to regular readers of The New Yorker, and over the years, I have eagerly devoured each new account of strange and bizarre human behavior.  In his most recent book, The Mind’s Eye, Sacks focuses on afflictions and conditions related to sight and communication, but particularly those that […]

Summer Reading

By Jean Farrington To me, the ideal vacation is to be in a warm clime in shorts and a top with a stack of books by my side. In a previous life, I was invited each year to submit the 10 best books I’d read that year plus my plans for summer reading for an […]

Wild Food or Wildlife?

By Jean Farrington I love salmon, for its appealing color and its delicate flavor, even though it has become the chicken of the banquet world. I had a delectable preparation of sea bass at Prospect last week, and I’m sure I consumed cod as a kid in the frozen fish sticks my siblings and I […]

Passionate Science

By Jean Farrington You may think you know all about Marie Curie.  After all, she won two Nobel prizes (physics and chemistry) and her discovery of polonium and radium has had far reaching consequences, both positive and negative. And you probably know that she and her husband were a devoted couple whose shared passion was […]

Bonobos R Us?

By  Jean Farrington Chimps, orangutans, and monkeys have been animals of scientific interest and study for decades and the work of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and others featured in the popular press. But bonobos, another ape, and also a close relative of us humans, have been largely unknown and somewhat overlooked until fairly recently. Bonobos […]