All posts tagged: New England

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 …

Celebrate: Halloween

“legend says there is a seam  / stitching darkness like a name.”  (Annie Finch) Tomorrow is Halloween.  Why not get in the mood?  I’ve never been much for costumes but I love the iconography and the old meanings of the holiday, the day of the year when this world and the next stand just next to each other, and small glimpses across the divide become easier. I’ve been interested in watching Dia de los Muertos become more mainstream in the States, too!  When I was home in California I reflected that it felt so much more authentic to the place, so I loved seeing skull sugar candies in supermarkets next to Halloween candy, and hearing about how families and schools celebrate it now.  A holiday for celebrating ancestors, feeling the presence of the past, is a wonderful thing. It’s what this time of year is for me. Here are some of the things that have been knocking around in my head this week as I think about the coming of Halloween. . The Physick Book …

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. …

With Taste, Smell, and Imagination

This piece first appeared at History at the Table, as part of the NCPH Working Group on Public History and the Local Food Movement. * I’m standing in the basement of Bondir, the intimate, award-winning Cambridge restaurant, watching Chef Jason Bond dismantle a hindquarter of beef, removing fat from muscle and muscle from bone.  As he drops each chunk into its designated plastic tub, he explains to me what it will be used for.  Every bit of this 200 pounds of meat will be consumed.  The steaks will dry-age for some months; the fat, brightly yellow because the cow was grazing on bright green grass, will be rendered and used for daily cooking; the tough muscles will be stews, cooked with the stock made from the bones.  This one animal will feed hundreds of diners; it’s the only way for high-quality meat like this, Chef tells me, to be economic. But I don’t think it’s just economy that drives Bond’s pursuit of a “snout-to-tail” approach to beef, or his painstaking efforts to remove different kinds …