Category: On nature

Celebrating wild turkeys on Thanksgiving

By John Yunker,

For the last several months, I’ve been watching a family of wild turkeys as they meander around the hills and trails of Ashland — which makes the Thanksgiving holiday bittersweet in that so many of these beautiful animals end up on people’s plates rather than remain out in the wilderness where they belong.

In the wild, turkeys are a beautiful sight. Here are two short clips of turkeys that live on the outskirts of town:

I’m looking forward to watching this turkey family grow up — and also looking forward to a future in which all turkeys are able to live out their lives this way.



  Category: On animals, On nature
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How can food change the world?

By Midge Raymond,

The New York Times magazine published its Food & Drink issue last weekend, with an intro by Mark Bittman, who opened with a couple of great questions: “How can food change my life? And how can food change the world?” As we all know, the way we eat is a highly personal decision, but Bittman points out that it’s not only personal; it’s political as well: “As well as you might feed yourself and your kids, the food ‘system’ is still out there, stuffing some people and starving others, poisoning the earth and the air, destroying cultures everywhere.” Read his call to action on this — as well as Michael Pollan’s Q&A on the food system, the American diet, and how to make a difference for good when it comes to factory farming, unsustainable agriculture, and animal cruelty.

Better yet, check out this TED talk with Mark Bittman — it’s not only interesting but alarming, enlightening, and, ultimately, inspiring.

Bittman is adamant that our diet (i.e., the Western/American diet) is deadly — and he’s right. (He wrote a very compelling op-ed for the New York Times on taxing bad food in favor of subsidizing good food.) Bittman points out that our Standard American Diet (SAD) is not only killing us — it’s also killing the planet. He offers a few facts that all Americans should be aware of before taking their next bites of food — among them,  that one-fifth of greenhouse gas is generated by livestock (more even than transportation), that half of the antibiotics administered in the United States is not for people but for animals, and that the U.S. alone slaughters 1o billion animals a year for food (that’s 10,000,000, 000).

He talks about the favorite “new” word: locavore, and points out that only a hundred years ago, we were all locavores. In 1900, there was no such thing as shipping food from faraway locales, no such thing as snack food or frozen food. Marketing had no role in what we eat, and all restaurants were local, not chains.

Bittman also reminds us to be mindful of where our food comes from. If animals that should, by nature, eat grass are fed organic soy or corn, it still makes them sick. Food that may be “organically” raised may be shipped or flown thousands of miles to get to your plate, and probably packed in Styrofoam, no less. He notes, in essence, that may be organic in letter are not necessarily organic in spirit.

Bittman’s message is simple: “Eat food. Eat real food.”

This means knowing a bit more about how our food gets to our plates … and this is well worth it in the end.

  Category: On animals, On nature
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A (virtual) Halloween book launch party!

By Midge Raymond,

UPDATE, October 31: Are you here for the party? You’re at the right place … but opened the wrong door. The party’s actually here.

Come join us!


You are all cordially invited to the official Out of Breath Halloween virtual book launch party on Monday, October 31.

This all-day party will be hosted right here on our blog, which means we can have a gigantic online party without worrying about the fire marshal breaking it up. All are welcome!

Doing a virtual book tour of my own this spring made me realize just how celebratory the virtual world can be for writers who are not able to get out there and meet with readers in person. So, as the publishers of this fabulous new book, we hope you’ll join us to celebrate online on Halloween.

Drop by this blog any time on October 31 to get the latest Out of Breath reviews, to sign up for book giveaways, and to participate in a daylong Q&A with the author. We’re delighted to be welcoming bloggers who will be stopping by to share new reviews as well as fantastic recipes for Halloween treats.

The Halloween candy may be virtual, but the good company will be real — hope to see you then!


Announcing new authors and our 2012 lineup

By John Yunker,

Ashland Creek Press in 2012
When Midge and I started Ashland Creek Press earlier this year, we knew what types of books we wanted to publish. And we noted this right on the home page.

But we weren’t sure exactly how many of these types of books were out there. All we did know was that we would have to be patient. Yet we were pleased and surprised to discover that we have not had to wait very long for amazing books to come our way.

I’m happy to say that our 2012 lineup of books captures the range of themes and issues we are most passionate about — books that introduce you to new cultures and new ideas, and books that have the potential to change the world, or at least the potential to change your way of looking at the world. So here is the lineup for next year, beginning in April:

The Names of Things by John Colman Wood

The Names of Things is one of those novels that sticks with you long after you’ve put it down. The book is a mystery, a love story, and an anthropological journey all wrapped up into one. We couldn’t put the manuscript down and are very happy to be introducing this novel to the world.

Falling into Green by Cher Fischer

Falling into Green is an eco-mystery set in Los Angeles with an ecopsychologist as its main character. This character, Ez Green, is a powerful, quirky, and highly engaging character, and this book is the first in what we hope will be a long series of Ez’s adventures on a changing planet.

And now let’s jump ahead to the fall of 2012 to introduce two newly signed authors and their novels:

The Dragon Keeper by Mindy Mejia

The Dragon Keeper is Mindy’s debut novel, and one of its most endearing characters is an endangered Komodo dragon living in a Minnesota zoo. But it’s ultimately about the woman who cares for the dragon, the perils of captivity, and the incredible series of events that change her life — and the dragon’s — forever. Mindy has an MFA from Hamline University, where The Dragon Keeper was awarded outstanding thesis in fiction in 2009. Her work has appeared in rock, paper, scissors, and Things Japanese: A Collection of Short Stories. She lives and works in Saint Paul, MN.

Balance of Fragile Things by Olivia Chadha

Balance of Fragile Things, Olivia’s debut novel, puts you smack in the middle of a modern American family — an Indian father, a Latvian mother, and a teenage son and daughter — as well as an environmental mystery that threatens to destroy the family’s livelihood as well as the whole town. Olivia completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Binghamton University and began her career writing comic book scripts. She teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

And, last but certainly not least, next fall we’ll be publishing the second book in the YA Lithia Trilogy:

The Ghost Runner by Blair Richmond

The second book in this trilogy will follow more of Kat’s adventures with the otherworldly inhabitants of Lithia. To learn more about this series, check out the first book, Out of Breath, which is available now and “officially” launches in October. You can download a PDF excerpt here, and please also join us here on this blog on Halloween, when we’ll be celebrating the publication of Out of Breath with a daylong virtual book launch. You can read some of the book’s early reviews here, including this one from Kirkus Reviews: “This series opener blends genre tradition with West Coast environmentalism … the result feels fresh and original.”

Welcome to all of our wonderful authors!

Meet the Spanish Fir: Ashland Tree of the Year 2008

By John Yunker,

Just a few yards from the Monterey Cypress (Tree of the Year 2004) is a statuesque Spanish Fir (Tree of the Year 2008), shown here:

The Spanish Fir is also known as Abies Pinsapo in its native country.

The picture doesn’t convey just how tall this tree is. If you’re visiting Ashland, I recommend a visit to the corner of Wimer and Scenic Drive, where you’ll find not one but two Trees of the Year.

Here’s a Google Map of this tree and others.

  Category: Ashland news, On nature
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