great ideas

Burdock: Hooked Like Velcro

Posted by on Mar 23, 2013 in adaptations, birds, edible, great ideas, plant parts, seeds, Uncategorized, Unmowed Blog, wildlife | 3 comments

One day in 1941, a Swiss scientist was walking his dog, and noticed with annoyance, like so many other dog-walkers before and since, that his pet had blundered into the tall prickly plant called burdock. And as he was picking the infernal little hooked seeds out of the dog’s fur, he had a bright idea. What if this idea–sharp curved hooks binding two things–was used by people? It took him years to get anyone to take the idea seriously, and even longer to develop a model that would work–not surprisingly, since he made his first attempts out of cotton. But finally he...

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Stone on Stone

Posted by on Mar 16, 2013 in great ideas, Uncategorized, Unmowed Blog | 2 comments

A few cold spring days at the Highlights Foundation at Boyds Mills, PA, for a writers’ workshop. A wonderful opportunity to learn and write. Recently the Highlights Foundation added a new building, using part of the foundations of an old barn. The new space is a cozy yet roomy classroom and meeting place on the inside. On the outside it’s a maze of intricate stonework. The lichened and weathered rocks of the old barn foundation support the newer stones. Enormous chunks of bluestone pave the classroom, the porch, even the bathrooms. The walls are mosaics of rough-hewn stones, each...

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To Feed a Mockingbird

Posted by on Feb 5, 2013 in birds, environment, great ideas, plant parts, seeds, Unmowed Blog, wildlife, winter | 4 comments

Another day, another parking lot. Now this might not look like a National Park or anything. But I drove into this parking lot in Guilderland, NY the other day, parked, and sat there thinking about nothing in particular for a minute. And in sixty seconds flat I had observed three gray squirrels, a flock of starlings, and a mockingbird. I’m no great birder, but I’m sure it was a mockingbird—big gray bird, long graceful tail, and a white flash under the wings as it flew into the bushes. Mockingbirds increasingly winter here in New York State, and they love thickets and scrub and berries....

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Great Ideas: The High Line

Posted by on Dec 13, 2012 in great ideas, nature centers, Unmowed Blog, wildlife | 0 comments

A great idea. An idea with potential to really change things, to create something new, to make the world a better place. I have them all the time. And then I think, ah well, that’s all a bit too much like work, really, for right now. I’ll get back to it later, for sure… In New York City, in the 1930s, an elevated railroad track was built to connect the docks, factories and warehouses that used to line the west side of Manhattan. But as the years went by, the trains stopped running, and the track was abandoned. It rusted for years, as grass grew between the rails. It was a...

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