All posts tagged: landscape

2015

In 2015 I  became a mother. This is Orion Augustus.  He’s been out in the world with me for 14 weeks now.  I am filled with awe, impatience, and nostalgia at every moment.  He already moves his hands with purpose, laughs when I kiss his belly, and opens his eyes wide in front of books. The past year seems now like it was all devoted to bringing him into the world, but so much else happened. I finished reading and writing my doctorate qualifying exams: on landscape studies, and on craft and work. I was on the teaching team that developed a new Harvard course on Boston’s history and culture.  I lectured on my own work on Haymarket, psychogeography, and oral history (read it here: I live in three different Bostons).  I also oversaw a group of undergraduate research projects, some of the most fulfilling work I have done as a graduate student. I began a series of interviews with artists about their relationship to place and work.  The first two, with potter Judy Motzkin …

Where we lay the dead.

Happy Halloween! I love the deep quiet that cemeteries have, even if there are leaves crunching and birds squabbling.  I get the feeling feeling that I’m able to barely brush against something eternal.  As a child I would often be taken on walks at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.  I suspect this gave me the idea that cemeteries are places for peace and rest, whether you are living or dead. Here are some cemetery photos I’ve taken in the past year – you may have seen them on Instagram already.  The oldest of the grave markers are from the Eliot Burying Grounds in Roxbury.  It’s usually locked behind a large wrought iron fence.  For two years I used to stand under the horse chestnut tree outside its gates to wait for the bus, and wonder what it would be like to walk inside.  Happily, on a recent walking tour in the neighborhood I got the chance.  I was told that the adjacent building was recently renovated, and when they tore …

Cultivating: Harvest

On the Autumnal Equinox, I put out a cutting board laden with apples and honey. I sliced an apple at its equator and left it open on the table, revealing the star of seeds. Apples and honey are a symbol of Rosh Hashanah, the first holiday of the Jewish High Holy Days and the marker of the Jewish New Year, but that core of seeds made me think of Persephone.  Seeds, the rhythms of the day and the year, the poetry and work of abundance and austerity — those are some of the things that this season means to me. Persephone, the daughter of Demeter (Goddess of the land and earth), was just a girl, playing in the fields, when she was taken by her uncle Hades and brought to the underworld. While she shivered in the darkness, her mother roamed the earth, her grief shriveling crops and blackening seeds. Hades offered Persephone a pomegranate, a gesture of the summer that she had left behind aboveground. When Demeter found them, she negotiated for her daughter’s release. Hades …

Cultivating: Midsummer

I’ve been thinking this summer about nostalgia.  This is the season for remembering first kisses (mine: 17 years old, on a balcony in San Sebastian, Spain, sometime in mid July, during a rainstorm), family camping trips, and the long days of daydreaming of past summers (that’s me in the hat, as a young teen, at left.  This picture gives me that odd feeling of not knowing where we are in this picture, and not remembering the moment at all).  If you have kids, it’s the time when they make memories like this for themselves.  I wonder what it’s like to watch them do that, to see echoes of your former self in them and experience the simultaneity of memory and experience.  This is the tinge of sadness that summer brings – knowing that it comes to an end, knowing that we’re getting older, that the year will soon get colder again.  The hopefulness of spring and the resilience of fall and winter lie on either side of us, and at the height of summer we …

Long review: Annette Kolodny, “In Search of First Contact”

On November 13, 1972, the Maine Sunday Telegram ran an article with the headline, “Those Famed Rune Stones, Real – Or Carved By Hippy?” Next to the headline is a photograph of a young white man in starched dress shirt and tie, a watch peeking out from his left sleeve, and a pointer in his hand. He is pointing towards a photo of a rock in the foreground, and the caption informs the reader that this Dr. Bruce Borque, the research associate for archaeology at the Maine Museum. He’s showing readers the famed Spirit Pond rune stones of Maine, which had been “discovered” a year earlier, only to have recently been ruled a fake by one of the world’s foremost rune stone experts. This was after the Maine State Museum had paid $4,500 for the stones to enter their permanent collection.The stones had certainly caused a great “hullaballoo,” with “amateur and not-so-amateur archaeologists” showing great enthusiasm for the discovery when it as made, and some believers still remaining after runic scholars determined they were fake. …

putting the land in place.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that it started — four years ago! — as a space for me to write and think about the issues I was exploring in cities.  Specifically, how we learn about a city: its history, its people, and its traditions.  I’ve been interested in pop-up urbanism (or as i’ve called it, entropy) since my first post, and other issues like historic preservation, manufacturing and economic development came later, as I got to know neighborhoods and reflect on the stories that they tell about themselves.  I’ve always been thinking not just about cities but about the institutions in them, those third and fourth places where people share and learn memories, ideas, and information.  I got my start in those kinds of places, and think they’re an important part of our cities, whether they’re surrounded by granite and columns to tell us that learning is important, or they pop up in a public square to make it fun and surprising.  The themes have been learning, …