Up Shit Creek (Or, Dawson’s Creek is Full of Shit, the Actual Creek, not the Show)

categories: Cocktail Hour

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Here is my essay from the last print issue of OnEarth magazine:

To get to the island I push off from my own backyard. I did not become a homeowner until I was 49 years old, and perhaps the greatest pleasure of this property in coastal North Carolina is that water laps its edges. In this way, and by the liquid tendril of a salt marsh, I am connected to so many other places in the watery world, and given enough energy, time, supplies, and fair weather, I could paddle to the end of my creek, bang a left, and end up back on the beaches of Cape Cod, the place I moved here from. My journey today is more modest: I am paddling my kayak downstream to a neighbor’s dock, where I will ready it for tomorrow’s three-mile trip east to Masonboro, one of the few undeveloped barrier islands left in this region, where my friend Hones and I will camp for four days.

“Not in my backyard.” This phrase is sometimes used as a club to beat environmentalists who are seen as overly concerned with their home turfs while ignoring the rest of the messy world. But so much of environmental activism, and environmental literature, springs from knowing one’s place. The writers I admire, from Henry David Thoreau to Wendell Berry, have fallen in love with their own backyards and, in Berry’s case at least, have taken the metaphor further, talking of marrying their home lands. I, by contrast, have long seen myself as a polygamist of place, launching continuing and overlapping love affairs with Cape Cod, Colorado, and now Carolina. My life has had a vagabond flavor, and there are two implicit ironies in the fact that I have finally found a home in this place where I never expected to be.  READ THE REST HERE.





  1. George de Gramont writes:

    Great Essay! Top of your game!