Naturalist Jim Conrad, photo by MeridaGOround, in Yucatan, 2012

I’ve written about this modern-day Thoreau several times here at my searchable blog. ¬†For a guy with such big feet, he’s got the smallest carbon footprint of anybody I’ve ever met. His austere lifestyle is to walk lightly on our planet, honoring Nature’s beauty, without trampling. ¬†

Naturalist Jim spent a few days at our home in Merida several months ago, after decamping from a rustic ranch in Tepaká, Yucatán, on his way to new digs at a remote eco-lodge in Texas, Frio Cielo Ranch, where he is resident naturalist.  During  winter solstice he released his latest project,  NATURE-STUDY MEDITATION: Mother Nature as Therapist in Anxious Times.

This ebook is downloadable for free. ¬†And he’s now offering ZOOM conversations with the naturalist, individually and to groups, where he gladly entertains nature questions, clickable at a block on his home page, . ¬†

Jim tells me that his recent foray into FaceBook is over, as they have foreclosed his access to his fb account, apparently wanting money from him since traffic at his noncommercial site has become busy enough that they seem to want a cut of his action, which is basically zero, as he subsists modestly on donations. (He speculates that perhaps this increased traffic is due to home-schooling during pandemic.)  

His latest ebook is somewhat autobiographical, as he interacts with posts from his past, while sharing his approach to meditating on nature, and our place in it. ¬†It’s instructive without being preachy. He teaches how taxonomy works to help us better understand nature; and he explores mental realms that stimulate curiosity, and bring peace and relaxation. ¬†


¬Ņ Who knew ?¬† (they sure didn’t tell us in school!)¬† ‚ÄĒ¬† In 1659, Massachusetts made it illegal to celebrate Christmas‚ÄĒa ban that lasted for the next 22 years!¬† Some religionistas just don’t know how to party; maybe their puritan long-underwear was too itchy?¬† (The word celebrate comes from Latin, celebrare; to honor.) ¬† ¬∂¬† Below are a sampling of some of our Christmas cards celebrating love, family, community, gratitude ‚Äď so much joy over the years.

Christmas card ~1978?

Christmas card ~1979?

Christmas card ~1988?

Christmas card ~1989?

Christmas card, 1994

Christmas card, 1997

Christmas card, 1999

Christmas card, 2001

Christmas card, 2002

Christmas card, 2004. Later, I went digital. More recent greetings can  be seen by browsing December entries.




JES√öS and the JOURNALIST . . .

photo by Alberto Morales (fair use)

Courage is an amazing quality, often extending to include self-sacrifice, while facing formidable risk. ¬†We can find it in the lives of nurses and doctors during this pandemic; firemen and police responding to deadly events; even an occasional politician risking loss of a job during re-election, while refusing all campaign contributions ‚ÄĒ the late and rare Senator, William Proxmire, comes to mind. ¬†The “selfish gene” concept has trouble with altruism, but it is evident that some humans value the species above their own lives, or so it seems. ¬†

Well, perhaps every act is selfish, in some sense. ¬†We make our choices based on what we value. ¬†If I value stability or liberty or community more than life itself, I might sacrifice my life for my values, “selfishly”.

I now ask you to forgive me for the trick I’ve played in writing the headline, above. ¬†This truly is a Mexican story. ¬†But the unaccented Jesus I will mention (briefly) is Jesus of Nazareth. ¬†(I didn’t want readers to decamp upon suspecting a religious theme, which this is not.) ¬†The Mexican angle is about the killing of a Mexican journalist, Regina Mart√≠nez. ¬†But both laid down their lives for their friends.

I have no idea if she was Christian, but it seems to me that she shared some of that love for community exhibited by Jesus of Nazareth, by risking her life for what she valued. While I have no ability nor inclination to evaluate evidence of her killing, the facts tell us of her relentless pursuit of truth about corrupt governance, at considerable risk to herself. That particular governor was found guilty of corruption (but not murder) and is now in prison.  The practice of investigative journalism in Mexico, outside of a war zone, is one of the riskiest professions in the world.  Let us be thankful for self-sacrificing heroes!  Without a free press, community gets run by the worst of the tough guys.  

In Plato’s Republic,¬†Socrates asks a local tough guy this question:¬†What is justice? ¬†“Mr T” answers: ¬†justice is whatever a tough guys says it is. ¬†Through further questioning Socrates manages to dismantle T’s response so thoroughly that it yields one of the most famous blushes in all of literature. ¬†

We should all blush for failing to question duplicitous authoritarians, hiding our cowardice by looking away. In a letter to Thomas Mercer, Edmund Burke wrote this: ‚ÄúThe only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.‚ÄĚ

Yellow Christ, by Paul Gauguin