Owl 11” by Brett Miller.

Surfing Dog

Surfing With the Noon Patrol: A Snowboarder At Sea

It’s possible that the marketing lingo on the arm of my wetsuit is a touch aspirational, as I haven’t been in the water before lunch since this whole thing began, almost nine months ago. I know it’s been that long because I have the note that I scribbled to myself, right here: “June 21st, the longest day of the year. Not a snowflake in sight.”

It was the middle of summer, and I was anxious to get to the mountain and resume the success of last year’s snow season. I began snowboarding in 2008, when the economy tanked and I couldn’t afford my city apartment anymore. I moved to the mountain for the cheap rent, for the solitude. I found a season pass abandoned in one of the rooms of the ski lease, my snowboard was a generous gift from an old boyfriend. But 2013 was the year commitment bit hard. The year I didn’t go to the resort anymore but headed into the backcountry. The year I sat through all the avalanche seminars, the year I learned to dig and dig and dig and dig. The year I could run on ice and coil rope and build emergency snow anchors with nothing but chapstick. The year I spent actual, real life money on a book on how to tie knots.

But that snow season was several months gone and I still hadn’t recovered. Never re-oriented back to my day job, secure and well-paying, which I had to quit because after all the adventure in the snow the world had grown bigger and my mind collapsed under the routine. Never adjusted to summer weather that I found mild and uninspiring. I really needed something to do, and eventually it occurred to me … the ocean was right there. Surfing and snowboarding, the fundamentals couldn’t possibly be that different. Stand on board. Aside from the fact that I’m not a very good swimmer, that I had no board, no wetsuit, any idea how to surf, and that the coast of Northern California is the third-largest Great White Shark breeding ground in the whole world, I considered it a flawless plan.  (more…)

Greenfriar Bookshelf: “Desert Solitaire,” by Edward Abbey

Desert SolitaireLast Thanksgiving, Gizmodo veterans Joel Johnson and John Mahoney started a nice thing called Just One Book, with the idea that people probably had one very important book in their lives, and maybe they could write a blurb about it and … I have no idea, really, because the day I found out about it, Joel was hired to be my semi-boss at Gawker Media and Just One Book was never updated again, the end.

Except: I typed a quick thing about a book I still like, Ed Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, and sent it to Joel. Or, into the voidMight as well put it on Greenfriar as our inaugural ripoff of Just One Book, which we will call “Only One Book” or maybe “That 1 Book.” Or, we will not call it any of those things, because this is the Greenfriar Bookshelf, and Matt Langer is supposedly coding up a whole Online Bookstore for these various titles beloved by your various writers at Greenfriar. (more…)

Ditching the Cubicle For the Pasture

Our friend Edith Zimmerman, who wrote this piece about the young farmers who call themselves the Greenhorns, just told us about a new Greenhorns’ Web documentary. What is it like, to ditch the city and figure out how to be a farmer?

It is hard work, and it takes years to make sense of it all, and nobody’s making Silicon Valley wages, but my god what a beautiful place. And look at these healthy young adults, able to move around of their own accord, outside in the pasture, surrounded by green hills and ramshackle barns. (more…)

Canada's Haida Gwaii

The Safest Way To Transport Oil Is To Leave It Underground

Hannah Griffin writes:

Dear Ken Layne,

Below is a link to a photo I took on Canada’s Haida Gwaii last spring.
Haida Gwaii is a archipelago 8 hours from mainland Canada, and if the
Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline becomes a reality,
oil-filled tankers will be moving through their backyard. On countless
properties on Haida Gwaii are strongly worded signs like this one
communicating the distress the residents feel over this situation.

Thank you for your time,
Hannah Griffin

Thank you for the photograph, which is very timely today.

My pet oak.

My Pet Oak: Learning How To Properly Love My 25-Foot-Tall Canyon Live Oak

“Oak tree, spread your branches, you know what to do.”
–Morris Day, “The Oak Tree”

There’s a 25-foot-tall Canyon live oak in the front yard of the house my family now calls home. We moved here in December, and shortly afterward a friend in the neighborhood told me of some minor dramas he faced when getting his own old oak trimmed.

Because this is the first time I have been charged with caring for a protected species, I decided to dig into the Do’s and Don’ts of oak tree stewardship in Los Angeles County. And this required the assistance of the Tree People.  (more…)

There’s no cheaper lodging than a National Park campsite, and you won’t find better…

There’s no cheaper lodging than a National Park campsite, and you won’t find better views from any hotel window, at any price. So instead of spending $200 a night for a basic room, reserve your spring or summer campground for just $20 a night.

(And don’t forget the 50%-off tents and gear from REI! Greenfriar gets a cut if you click here.)

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Walking around.

Tiny Cottages, Meaningful Labor, and a Daily Walk


Photo by Katherine Johnson.