No Hats: The Prayer Of The Virgin Condor

This is a very broad generalization about sports but I’ll say it anyway. Sports where there are hats involved are more explicitly about control of your opponent than the free flow of play. This is not to say that there aren’t amazing and improbable and improvisational and miraculous things that happen in football or baseball…

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Rocks – The Oxbow episode 5

In this episode of The Oxbow the suggestion from a postcard was “rocks.” After a joking chastisement of the submitter for giving too specific a suggestion (The Lessons that rocks can teach us) some considerations of how rocks inspire the phrase “rock ‘n roll” which brings in a discussion of oral and literate culture. Other…

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Cinnamon Tea – The Oxbow episode 4

In this episode of The Oxbow a Benegal Spice cinnamon tea teabag is the mailed-in suggestion. This ends up being a springboard for sourcing good spices, reflecting on offerings to the divine in texts like the Hymns of Orpheus and the Bible. And then the great tale of the emergence Sri NarasimhaDev, the lion man…

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Speed – The Oxbow episode 3

This episode’s word is speed.  Matthew reminisces about questionable childhood gifts, walking with Thoreau, the time man spends with his automobile, and traveling at “human speed”. Let’s also contemplate the flexibility and utility of language, and how a word like “clang” can only exist in a world where that sound is made. Zoom is a…

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Notional – The Oxbow episode 2

Casey Jones by The Grateful Dead https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_x2m6i4KFqg Before Writing: From Counting to Cuneiform by Denise Schmandt-Besserat Nature word of the day from Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape Ganderbrush: In the dense backwoods of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, swampy sinks are commonly filled with a shrubby plant called leatherleaf. These plant communities, known…

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Brodo – The Oxbow episode 1

In the premiere episode of his new podcast The Oxbow, Matthew Stillman sets the stage for a series of free-flow ruminations centered around a single word. This episode’s word – brodo – inspires memories of the classic tortellini in brodo Matthew first tasted in Italy many years ago, and branches off on an examination of…

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The Pure Chestnut: The Grammar of the Gone

This isn’t a story about the American Chestnut. In the world over but very broadly in the Northern hemisphere there is a persistent mythical understanding of a World Tree. An Axis Mundi. A Tree of Life. The Spine of The Great Mother. The Source of All Wands. This tree might be holding up the heavens,…

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Beset By Mystery: The Wiffle Ball

So often I write about indigenous people or a traditional cultural pathway. But the other day I saw a few minutes of a baseball game and I haven’t watched baseball in years. I used to be a fan and then it fell away for me. Then the same day I saw some kids and a…

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We Are The Stars Which Sing

The Schoodic Peninsula in Maine comes from the Passamaquoddy Indian word  ‘skut-auke’ meaning ‘place of the fire’ or ‘land that has been burned’. Whether this was a place that was the origin of their fire story or a place that they burned at some interval to spur new growth or a spot that was prone…

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Artist as Antennae: On Kubla Khan and the Breathing, Heartbeating Earth

In the fall of 1797 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the famed English poet, fell ill in some unspecified way while out walking and when he returned to the farmhouse he was staying in he took some opium to quell the pain. While opium conjures a particularly exotic and hazy kind of stumbling degeneration to the modern…

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