Turtle Chirps, Volcanic Whistles

Anathasius Kircher, a 17th-century German Jesuit priest and scholar, had interests ranging from fossils to hieroglyphics to micro-organisms and volcanoes, was above all a master of expressing wonder at the natural world. He proposed, among many other things, the idea of a parabolic horn, an amplification system for sound waves. In the illustration below, the…

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Golden Bounty

I went for a run in a solid summer rain this afternoon, and returned home to the refreshment of some ripe mirabelle plums, straight off the tree. But the next couple of days will be devoted, at least in part, to picking and processing the plum bounty before the rain ruins them all. The mirabelle…

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Water Falls

A crucible for past, present and future examples of extreme climate developments, the western part of the United States – and California in particular – continues to suffer under extreme drought conditions. Drought is nothing new in California. What’s new (or rather, not very old in geological terms) is a culture and economy built on…

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Past Cuts

We’re staying in West Hollywood with a good friend, and the back garden of his 1920s bungalow is bordered by an unexpected diagonal wall. It’s an odd angle that traces the boundary between this house and the next property. On the other side of a large nearby street at the end of this quiet block,…

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Beach Sandskrit

We were walking on Malibu beach yesterday as the tide was going out. It left behind a long tale of the previous few hours, written in seaweed and flotsam. I didn’t count how many different types of seaweed left their notes on the sand, but from the number of red lobster shells in the receding…

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Chasing Wind

We drove across northern Germany a few days ago, following the A1 autobahn from Hamburg to Osnabrück through long stretches of low hills and lower fields lush with crops. The motorway forms the upper limits of the ancient Roman expansion into northern Germany, which was stopped in the great Battle of the Teutonic Forest, the Varius Disaster of…

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Floor of Sand, Roof of Water

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time (every possible minute) on the beaches of California. And one of my favorite activities was to run after the receding waves as far as I dared,, right up to where they were beginning another forward surge, and then turn and sprint back to safety.…

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Floating Farms

I always have a soft spot for illustrations of future visions. This image of seaweed carriers is no exception. A company called Seaweed Energy Solutions (SES) has developed and patented seaweed growing technology that it hopes will make possible the cultivation of seaweed on a vastly larger scale than we have seen thus far.  …

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Redcurrant Cordial

I’d had a romantic vision in my mind about making redcurrant cordial, something more in keeping with the  word ‘cordial’. What I hadn’t anticipated was the 7 kilos (15 pounds) of redcurrants my single bush would yield under not very thorough picking. The simple recipe (see below) became a more complicated logistical matter of our…

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Seaweed Squares

http://news.yahoo.com/photos/city-art-from-above-slideshow/ When I think of oceans, I think of movement and flow. When I think of oceanic plant life, I have in my mind an image of free-form fields of seaweed in constant motion. When life grows for itself, it tends to grow in loose configurations. When I think of tilled land fields, like the…

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