Hydronyms: The Occupational and the Toponymic

In 1732 Thomas Fuller wrote his book of aphorisms, Gnomologia, “We never know the worth of water till the well runs dry.” The American anthropologist and nature writer Loren Eiseley wrote “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” And of course the famous quote “Where there is water there is…

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The Burning: On The Fires That Make Us Human and Whence They Came

There is much burning happening in these times. Of old ways and norms. Of sensemaking. Of the grace of the tongue. Perhaps some of this is for the good. Perhaps not. I’d leave that assessment aside for a moment to say that the sweetly popping scent of the campfire and wood smoke isn’t readily available,…

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The Making Of A Roadside Prayer

I don’t know what the statistics are for Native New Yorkers knowing or not knowing how to drive – I know Native New Yorkers who can’t drive at all and never have and ones who can and do. I got my license when I was 16 but didn’t really drive much until I went away…

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The Softly Kinetic Tch-Tch-Tch: The Tobacco Rattle

A few weeks ago I wrote to you all about the tobacco growing prospects in my backyard and what the history of tobacco had to do with the history of viruses. You might recall that I was counseled that tobacco was a great plant teacher though there was nothing sure what that learning was going…

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Benign Majesty: The Very Much Alive Tomato

At this time of the summer in the United States if you have a garden or you frequent farmers markets there is a very high chance that you are going to have a run in with a tomato. While tomatoes are one of the world’s most consumed, highest valued and most widely grown vegetable crop…

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We Are Good Because Of Our Horses: The Post Office and Ancient Persia

The unofficial motto of the US Postal Service is:   “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”   This grand proclamation is engraved on the lintels of the Farley Postal Building in New York City which opened in 1914. The Classical…

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The Culture Of Glass: The Mysterious and The Metastable

Somewhere along the road of your learnings you may have picked up the piece of trivia that glass is a liquid and not a solid. And maybe you read about crazed glass and how churches with windows that are hundreds and hundreds of years older are thicker at the bottom due to the slowly flowing…

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Side. Coast. Rib. Bone. Oyster.

There are a lot of things to track in these strange days. The state of coronavirus, whatever your thoughts about it are deeply laced in with politics. No matter your interest or persuasion in or around US politics there was, in my estimation, a remarkable interaction in Congress in the last few days where Representative…

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The Old Wine. The New Bottles.

The last few newsletters have been heavy and substantial. And perhaps that is proper because the times are such. So I thought I’d still try to be faithful to the times but be a bit lighter this week. So I’ll start where all levity starts… Luke 5:36-39. Ha! And he spake also a parable unto…

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The New Old Half of Oklahoma: On The Open History of Cows in America and The Consequences

Delegates from 34 Native tribes at the Creek Council House in Indian Territory, now called Oklahoma, 1880 The fact that you read this newsletter means that you get and read at least one email newsletter. I’m so glad that you have decided that a newsletter from your tallow based skincare provider is worth your time.…

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