The Longing of a Billion Oysters

Dredging has been happening in waterways around the world for thousands of years. Sometimes it is to pull precious gems or minerals from a sea or river bed. Or to pull sand and silt for making concrete. Sometimes it is to get material to infill on land. There are lots of reasons that is has…

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Things To Wonder About At The Cheese Plate

Next time you are at a dinner party and are hovering near the cheese plate or are nearby somebody who is hovering by the cheese plate and you both look at each other and shrug with seemingly nothing to say…here is a grand conversation starter. Grab the toothpick with the colored cellophane tassel and press…

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The Oldest Needle

In Potok Cave in Eastern Slovenia a needle was found that was made between 41,000 and 47,000 years ago. And in Liaoning Province in China needles were found that were between 23,000 and 30,000 years old. These needles were made of splintered bone and in some cases ivory. You might not realize it at first…

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The Scent After the Storm

Since the early 20th Century in India there has been a perfume called ‘mitti attar’ meaning ‘Earth’s perfume’ has been a long standing classic there. In the last few years two perfumers in the west  – Christopher Brosius and David Seth – separately created perfumes called ‘Black March’ and ‘Pale Grey Mountain, Small Black Lake’.…

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The Cowichan Knitter

The Coast Salish people of what is called British Columbia have many smaller peoples among them, the Cowichan among them. As the lore of their people tell, they have been weaving clothing for thousands of years using dog hair or mountain goat wool. They wove textiles from tree bark as well. Canada has its own…

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The Carved Trees of Tehran

This stump is from a tree on my block in Harlem in New York City. You can count the rings, I think. Between twenty and twenty-five years he grew. I’ve lived in New York City my entire life and on this block for just shy of twenty years. I saw this tree as a reedy…

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Ghosts, Bugganes, and Fairy Pigs

The Isle of Man sits at the crossroads of fame and obscurity. The name, somehow, is widely known. You’ve heard of it…somewhere. What is it known for? You might have the piece of trivia that The Bee Gees are from the Isle of Man. Maybe you have heard of the short-tailed Manx cat. But those…

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The Grand Dishes That Might Arrive Soon

Once upon a time I was a development executive at the cable network Food Network. It was part of my job to come up with new ideas for shows and take half-baked ideas and make them better. There are many stories to tell about my days there but it was a job that I was…

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The Economics of the Handmade Broom

When you come across the word ‘economy’ or ‘economics’ in conversations there are three broad responses (many others are, of course, possible) 1. Hopping and often greedy enthusiasm from the sorts who are confident about the best form of economics or economy and are simultaneously eager to tell you about it and probably try to…

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The Navigation of Salmon as Cultural Analogy

There is this stunner of a word in the English language – murmuration. It is the word for a flock of starlings who engage in this pulsing and shifting synchronized flight that makes for gaspingly beautiful fluid shapes. Seemingly every bird knows exactly when to turn and how far while maintaining speed with the entire…

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