After blogging from 2013 to 2018, I took a break to finish a book that demanded long hours and travel for research. Now I am back after an interlude of 12 months with my fingers poised over the keyboard. As described on the Home page, the general theme is unchanged but more focused than before and, dare I say, more political. Thank you for reading.
August 1, 2014
When I started posting musings in 2013 I wondered where they would wander, and guessed it would be a wide territory. True. My keyboard clatters to different tunes every week or two, depending on what is currently buzzing in my head. This week it is insects, sometimes science, sporadically health or medicine, often wondrous things in nature, and occasionally I felt compelled by a human interest story. The picture panel below gives a few clues. But my aim to observe rather than campaign or advertise has not changed, and hence I have been careless how many visitors hit my website.
They might be surprised to find more posts about nature than anything in biomedicine, the only subject I can claim any expertise. But a fascination with the natural world reaches back to childhood before I had a career, to a time when the word green only meant a color. The gap that opened at the end of a career quickly filled with a long-postponed passion.
Robert Louis Stephenson wrote it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive, and that’s an apt metaphor for my work. Writing provides momentum for exploring subjects that trigger my curiosity and imagination or help the struggle to understand the dark and sad sides of life. It is satisfying to upload another post, and sometimes a relief, but my goal was realized before I reached the final draft. It’s a bonus if readers enjoy it.
For all the brilliant advantages of being alive in these times, not least this opportunity for communication, there is a deep shadow of apprehension about the legacy we leave to future generations. A lot of diversity in nature has been lost since Alfred Russel Wallace roamed the Indonesian jungle and John James Audubon hiked the virgin forests of North America. Species have vanished more rapidly since my boyhood. As the most invasive and destructive species we are slowly waking from dreams of total conquest over nature to responsibilities for its care, even if mainly driven by self-interest in an era labeled the Sixth Extinction. But there is an irony, and perhaps an obstacle, that this late concern is coming at a time when people are even more disconnected from nature and our food sources because human populations everywhere are drifting to urban dwelling. In cities an appreciation for wild things is mostly a second-hand experience.
That is why Mr. Louv deserves to be read (see below). And it is also why in my imagination I am pulled to the Wild Wood, like the opposite pole of a magnet, where we are aliens. I sympathize with the Rat: “Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wild World…And that’s something that doesn’t matter either to you or to me. I’ve never been there, and I’m never going, nor you either, if you’ve got any sense at all.” (Wind in the Willows).
January 1, 2013
Hello and Welcome to my Blog.
I retired early to spend more time writing and to recover from what Richard Louv has called ‘nature deficit disorder’. I now enjoy the outdoors as a master naturalist and gardener, and they in turn nourish my literary heart. I write about subjects I know and care about – science, medicine, and wonders of nature.
I grew up in and around London, which sounds too urban to foster a love of nature, but even a few fallow acres inside cities can harbor interesting plants and animals. Later, I had to fit this interest around my academic career.
Starting in Cambridge under Nobel Laureate (Sir) Robert Edwards, I taught and directed research in reproduction, embryology, and aging. I married Lucinda Veeck, the embryologist on the first successful IVF team in America. We both owe our careers to Bob, as do millions of people conceived with IVF. Along the way, I was on the faculty of Edinburgh, Leeds, McGill, the Jones Institute, and lastly a professor at Cornell’s Weill Medical College in Manhattan.
Finally and More Important
This blog doesn’t seek advertising revenue, and profits from book sales are donated to charities (Jamestowne Bookworks). It’s very liberating not to worry about money! The personal reward when ideas prompt research leading to writing dwarf any interest in attracting readers and comments, though I appreciate both.