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The Sun Magazine

The Natural World

Wildlife

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Tides

Then ahead I saw a small, dark shape perched on the sand, well back from the water. As I drew closer, the shape revealed itself to be a bird, sitting back on its tail feathers. It was vaguely penguin-like, about eighteen inches tall, with black back and head, white breast and cheeks.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Willie

No one in prison is ever coming back. Once we’ve served our time, everything is finally going to work out. We’re all going to stay in touch, so we can share our good news — except I’ve been giving out a fake phone number this entire time. I’m embarrassed to know these men, eyewitnesses to a shameful period of my life I can’t wait to live down: two years in prison for a nonviolent offense.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Anne

How could so much intelligence and substance so quickly become lost? A powerful presence was gone from our lives. I carefully laid her head back down on the cool earth beside a big bouquet of dandelion flowers that Leslye must have left earlier in the day. Dandelions were always Anne’s favorite.

The Sun Interview

A Walk On The Wild Side

Joe Hutto’s Life With Animals

I’m no expert on consciousness, but I’ve observed consciousness in other creatures my entire life. If we describe it as a state of being awake, being aware, then when you look at an animal, you see true wakefulness. Humans have created a sophisticated culture that serves as an insulating bubble, separating and protecting us from the environment, allowing us to relax such that we don’t have to be totally conscious. Most animals have to be at the helm of their ship all the time, or they die. They have multiple opportunities to die every day. Because humans don’t have that tension, our senses have become dull. Probably the only time that a human being experiences an animal level of awareness is in combat, where every second you might be in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle.

Fiction

The Donkey At The Gates Of The Kingdom Of Heaven

Once, a donkey ascended to the shining gates of the kingdom of heaven. The gates were open. The donkey heard music more beautiful than anything he had ever imagined. Each note was a star going supernova, a pack of wolves running down an elk over snow. The song poured itself into the world. The donkey stood transfixed. Without thinking, he opened his mouth wide and brayed.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Foreign Coasts

It’s already sweltering at sunrise on this August Sunday morning in Norfolk, Virginia. My Lebanese grandfather is taking my brother and me fishing for blue crabs on the Elizabeth River. He stands on the dock and drops the oars into the flat-bottomed rowboat.