I am a freelance writer and editor based in the lower Connecticut River Valley. My beat starts at the intersection of ordinary American life and the natural environment. I write about backcountry adventure, environmental change and how people cope with it, and American history.
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I was born in downtown Philadelphia in the last year of the baby boomers. My father was at a business lunch during my birth and got the news when the waiter brought a telephone to the table. I grew up mostly in Princeton, New Jersey. I share the label "writer who graduated from Princeton High School" with John McPhee and Laura Waterman.
I learned journalism at the Daily Pennsylvanian at the University of Pennsylvania. For 18 years I worked for newspapers large, small, and middle-sized, in Philadelphia; Mount Kisco, New York; and New London, Connecticut. I became a freelancer in 2000.
I am writing a book about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. During the dark days of the Great Depression, they collaborated on the "Little House" books, retelling Laura's pioneer chidhood story. They captured the crazy days of the frontier, from 1870 to 1885, as a hopeful story that changed the way Americans view pioneers.
I am the editor of Appalachia journal, the mountaineering publication with the literary bent published since 1876 by the Appalachian Mountain Club.I have helped give a start to emerging writers like Blair Braverman, Sally Manikian, Bethany Taylor, John Gioia, and Michael Wejchert. I also edit the work of established writers like Doug Mayer, Rebecca Oreskes, Laura Waterman, Will Howarth, and Kristen Laine. In Appalachia, you can also read my own stories on things like the Episcopal priest who first climbed Denali, my ordeal on the Appalachian Trail, and backcountry philosophy in my column, The Long Way Home.
I also edit a quarterly, Connecticut Woodlands, for the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, the venerable trail-maintaining and conservation nonprofit that formed back when Connecticut had almost no trees, in 1895. I have been building Woodlands into an outlet for journalists and environmental watchdogs since 2001.
I have published many articles in The New York Times—many of them about the coast and landscape of Connecticut, but some about wider topics like hiking with little daughters. You will find my work on climate, energy, water, and backcountry adventure in Audubon, Popular Mechanics Online, the Washington Post, Connecticut Explored, the Hartford Courant, the Connecticut Mirror, Nature Climate Change, and Yale Climate Connections.
My book about energy for ordinary people, Energy Independence (Lyons Press, 2006 and 2009), describing why fossil fuel rules and how an ordinary citizen can conserve energy, use the sun, wind, wood, and geothermal heat, and make sense of hybrid cars.
One huge influence on my writing continues to be the thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail I did some years ago. I carried a loaded pack 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine with my husband, Nat Eddy, and friends, Phil and Cay Lodine. We have agreed that I struggled the most on the trail and changed the most—and that those changes still ride messily on my sleeve today. The AT thru-hike amounted to a master's degree in the subject "woman against the natural world." At the end of that four and a half months of constant hunger and foot pain, we all emerged respecting natural tempests and civilization's inventions: thunderstorms, insects, wind, running water, sewage treatment. Life has never looked the same. I have never felt uncomfortable one day since that season.
Welcome to my work world! Stay as long as you like. The light's always on here. Start with the Woodside Field Guide.