This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for May 14, 2015: Tamanrasset

May 14: birthday: Hal Borland

It’s the birthday of nature writer Hal Borland (books by this author), born in Sterling, Nebraska (1900). He wrote that he grew up “in those years when the Old West was passing and the New West was emerging. It was a time when we still heard echoes and already saw shadows, on moonlit nights when the coyotes yapped on the hilltops, and on hot summer afternoons when mirages shimmered, dust devils spun across the flats, and towering cumulus clouds sailed like galleons across the vast blueness of the sky. Echoes of remembrance of what men once did there, and visions of what they would do together.”

Hal’s grandfather was a blacksmith, and his father a newspaperman. Hal followed in his father’s footsteps and moved all over the country working for local papers — he started out at his father’s paper in Flagler, Colorado, a town of 750 people, and he ended up at The New York Times in 1937. One day, he submitted a piece about the English oak tree to the editorial page, and it was accepted. After that, his nature editorials were a staple in the Times. He published one every week, and by the time he died in 1978 he had written 1,750 nature editorials — the last of them published the day before his death. Borland kept a New Yorker cartoon on his office wall showing a man brandishing a newspaper and shouting: “Here’s another of those crackpot editorials about the voices of frogs shattering the autumn stillness!”

Borland’s books include When the Legends Die (1963) and Sundial of the Seasons (1964).