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The Oxbow with Matthew Stillman

Welcome to The Oxbow. The largely improvised podcast where one-word suggestions mailed in from the audience are used as a point of departure to see how that word or phrase might inspire deeper wondering, worthy questions, and reflections on nature and culture, etymology and history, myth and place, and maybe the skill of human making... If we're lucky. Let's see.

I'm Matthew Stillman, and this is the Oxbow. Where the rich sediment of things that shaped this time and place slows to feed the verdant delta of culture.

3:20 and Chopsticks – The Oxbow Episode 8

December 23, 2021

In this episode, Matthew explores a replica of an Etruscan drinking cup and how it connects to a more felt sense or embodied squatting culture and some of the implications of design that is emergent from table and chair and plate culture and connects that to Asian chopstick use. He also thinly recounts the Romani…

Bees Wax – The Oxbow Episode 7

December 16, 2021

In this episode Matthew skitters widely on folklore about bees and honey, false etymologies, real mythologies, and how the bee and its six-foldedness might connect the spirit world to the living one here on earth. Things talked about in this episode: Telling of the Bees painting by Hans Thoma Telling of the  Bees – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telling_the_bees The…

Woodcarver Business Card – The Oxbow Episode 6

December 8, 2021

This episode gets a reference to a specific episode from Stephen Jenkinson’s book “Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time Of Trouble”. But that inspires some considerations on the history of business cards and what that has meant for commerce and community. And then the language of the business card spurs thoughts…

Rocks – The Oxbow episode 5

November 18, 2021

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…

Cinnamon Tea – The Oxbow episode 4

November 12, 2021

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…

Speed – The Oxbow episode 3

November 4, 2021

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…

Notional – The Oxbow episode 2

October 28, 2021

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…

Brodo – The Oxbow episode 1

October 21, 2021

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…