Late last year, I read an article detailing the prominent place fig trees hold in the cultural imagination of Italian-Americans and, of course, their backyard gardens. A demographer can trace the path of Italian migration in the United States by simply tracking the fig trees. They can be found in neighborhoods throughout New York City and New Jersey, including my own in Jersey City. This recent article prompted me to think differently about the conception and discourse of urban history.Continue reading
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than three months ago, my physical life largely exists within the four walls of my home. I imagine that I’m living in a remote monastery or an arctic scientific outpost. That somewhat helps. Fortunately, my home has a small yard, allowing a safe space for fresh air and a connection with nature. Continue reading
Amid the distressing events of the past weeks and days–ongoing pandemic, massive unemployment, police violence, civic unrest, and horrible presidential leadership, I’ve found it challenging to concentrate and write. My subjects have grown smaller in scope and range, largely focusing on the happenings of nature in my wife’s and my backyard. Continue reading
Every summer, near the Fourth of July, I try to read a history of the American Revolution or a biography of a founding father. This period has long captivated my imagination: Enlightenment thinkers led a young nation discovering its identity. Continue reading
While returning several slightly overdue books–yes, I resemble the stereotypical book hoarder–at the Mid-Manhattan Library of the New York Public Library on a recent afternoon, I noticed a flyer promoting a seed library. Any library member could request up to three packets of non-GMO vegetable, flower, or herb seeds.
My interest was piqued.