There are a number of four-letter words that can be used to describe 2020. Some of the most apt among them are too inappropriate to print here.

Other four-letter words have been uttered more this year than any other. Words like mask. Some of these words are best combined in pairs, like wash hands or stay home. These simple combinations of letters seem fairly innocuous at first glance, but they bring to mind masked children in school yards, shuttered businesses, lonely living rooms, overfull hospitals, and empty town squares. …


First frost visited our forest this week. There is a chill in the air, even as wildflowers remain in bloom. Some trees are turning to turmeric and rust, while others are as emerald green as they were in July. The children start the morning in hats and mittens, and by afternoon they are running around in tank tops and rompers. It is that ambiguous in-between space between summer and autumn.

Nature’s change of seasons reminds me that transition is always messy.

Transition is not the only lesson that Mother Nature is teaching me about motherhood. …


The streets on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon are lined with cherry blossoms in April. They grow beside wisteria vines and stunning fuchsia gardens. Big, old trees are covered in moss — the romantic result of a damp, mild, West Coast climate. The effect of the large, cotton candy blooms and the towering mossy trees was novel and delightful to me, having flown from my home in the forest in Quebec. In April, where I live, there is still snow.

I went to Portland in April 2019 to immerse myself in the Sustainable Fashion Forum. Hundreds of sustainable fashion designers…


In dominant society for hundreds of years, our homes, families, communities, workplaces, modes of production, economies and whole lives have been built on a human-made idea of a linear world. Linear thinking is one-dimensional and narrow, and expects things to go neatly in sequence and result in a product. By definition, linear living needs an endpoint. A finish line.

A bunch of radishes that are still covered in fresh soil are held in a pair of hands.

Circular living, by contrast, has no beginning or end. It is a continuous cycle. Like all cycles, it goes through stages that change and evolve on an ongoing basis in response to the environment. Circular living is often restorative, often regenerative…

Alice Irene Whittaker

Alice Irene is a writer, environmental communications director and mother of three. She explores circular living and is writing a book in a cabin in the woods.

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