Improvised Life » nature If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:24:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ramp Season: Odes, Festivals and Recipes Fri, 18 Apr 2014 08:31:38 +0000

Every April, I start thinking about ramps, the first wild food to peek through the cold ground in early Spring, and the focus of equally wild festivals throughout the Appalachian mountains. For decades, I’d travel down to West Virginia to the Helvetia Ramp Supper to get a transformative blast of ramps, both raw and cooked. Here is one of the best descriptions I’ve heard of that first bite, by David Voodoon Noble, also known as The Ramp Moses: (more…)

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LOOK UP to See Tonight’s Total Eclipse Blood Moon!! Mon, 14 Apr 2014 22:27:50 +0000

For the first time since 2011, people in the United States will be able to see a total eclipse of the moon, starting at about 2 a.m. Eastern time this evening (a civilized 11 pm for those on the West Coast). Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is totally safe to watch without eye protection, and lasts for a few hours. It can be a spectacular thing to see. (The image above was taken in 2008).

Vox, our favorite new news site, has a great article that explains what exactly you’ll be seeing. This graphic will give you the idea instantly: (more…)

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Urban Jungle Street View Transforms our World Thu, 20 Mar 2014 23:00:47 +0000

A view from 123rd & Lenox

Urban Jungle Street View filters New York City, San Francisco and many any other locales through an Amazonian lens — an eco system of vines, trees, and vines you can wander through. Stockholm-based web developer, Einar Öberg loves "the idea of an abandoned world where nature is taking over." So do we.]]> 0
For NYC on the Day of a Building Collapse Thu, 13 Mar 2014 01:13:54 +0000

Fast Forward

At 9:30 this morning, I heard a shocking blast that sounded like a bomb going off, shaking the Laboratory and somehow changing the air. ‘Something big has happened’. A few minutes later, as sirens started to wail, I searched the internet for news. It came quickly, through tweets and then via news sites: images of ruin and billowing smoke, frightening echoes of 9/11. (more…)

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The Lifespan of Mountains Mirrors our Own Wed, 12 Mar 2014 08:22:22 +0000

(Video link HERE.) This beauty of a film by Temujin Doran is about the processes by which mountains are created and eventually destroyed. While it might seem to be about physical geography and geology, it is about way more than that:


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View Shift: Watch a Live Eagle Cam Throughout Your Day Tue, 04 Mar 2014 18:00:59 +0000

Anne Johnson alerted us to the most astonishing of websites: Berry Colleges Eagle Cam. At any time of day or night, you can watch a live eagle in its nest. We find it to be an INSTANT shift of view. Anne wrote: Fun when you get to see the baby she is sitting on. 

And in fact, within minutes of watching we saw the mother eagle shift to reveal her baby and two eggs. (more…)

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Stress-Busting Video Transporter to Yosemite Tue, 04 Mar 2014 00:00:51 +0000

(Video link HERE.) We just found this note from Susan Dworski:

when you need a touch of the celestial to offset some practical DIY.
music’s a tad OTT, I’d turn it off, but the visuals are superb. (more…)

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The Evolution of a Snowflake Is Like…Our Own Thu, 27 Feb 2014 09:27:06 +0000

(Video link HERE.)  This wondrous video made us look up “How Are Snowflakes Formed?”, a question that we realize we’ve never known the answer to. We found that the answers curiously echo the creative process and individual growth: (more…)

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Radical Snow Play in Video and Images + a Kid’s Book Thu, 20 Feb 2014 09:37:11 +0000

(Video link here.) The record snowfalls across the country have brought with them both hardship and heartening creativity. Here’s a small collection of spontaneous snow creations made in joyous defiance (including a wild New York City snow boarder). They’re accompanied by a few philosophical words about snow from one of our favorite kid’s books, Moominland Midwinter,// in which a hibernating little beast wakes unexpectedly to see his first snow.

“Tell me about the snow,” Moomintroll said and seated himself in Moominpappa’s sun-bleached garden chair. “I don’t understand it.” (more…)

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A Heart-Shaped Boulder for Valentine’s Fri, 14 Feb 2014 18:00:10 +0000

Pamela Hovland

Graphic Designer Pamela Hovland sent us this image for Valentine’s, with this message: I always look at this big heart-shaped rock in the park where I run my dog. I finally decided to photograph it (pre-storm) in order to use it for an upcoming Valentine’s Day greeting. Thought you’d like it also…There’s a “broken heart” rock later on the trail that would be good to photograph but hopefully I don’t have to send that one to anyone anytime soon… This is JUST the kind of Valentine we love, hiding in plain sight. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!! Thanks Pamela!


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Murmuration: Thousands of Starlings Move as One Thu, 13 Feb 2014 08:48:40 +0000 (Video link HERE.) In this homemade video of murmuration, thousands of starlings flock over a river in Ireland, moving as one. It is a mystery of nature, happening in smaller scale daily, often unnoticed. Each bird in the flock appears to be connected...listening to every other. The mystery is how birds that are hundreds of feet apart "know" when to turn in unison and create such joyous beauty.]]> 0 Pursuit of the New: Surfing with Ice and Snow Wed, 12 Feb 2014 09:05:39 +0000

Yassin Ouhilal

A source of inspiration to us over the winter months is intrepid photographer Yassine Ouhilal, who documents surf culture in some of the worlds coldest waters. A surfer himself, Yassine is Canadian born but ventures further north to the far reaches of Canada, Russia and Iceland where a small number of like-minded surfers escape the hoards in popular areas.

His photographs show surfers poised under the Northern Lights, or catching waves next to mountain glaciers. We’re not used to associating surf culture with ice and snow – we didn’t even really know it existed. While we are all sheltering from the cold, they are actually (more...)]]> 0 Snow Structures: Makeshift Architecture Fueled by Dreams Tue, 04 Feb 2014 23:00:22 +0000


This image of an urban igloo jarred memories of hours spent building snow huts as a kid. We devised various methods of making them: building a huge mound of snow and burrowing a room into it…packing walls of snow in a round, graduated slope until we somehow made it hold a “roof” (we never thought of making snow”bricks”).  One was rather elaborate, with a window made of a sheet of ice, and a tunnel that opened up into a room. We’d hang out there for hours, WARM, because snow shelters curiously are, spinning fantasies that went far beyond our crude hut…

…though not as far (more...)]]> 0 Chocolate as Resistance + The Spirituality of Chocolate Tue, 04 Feb 2014 09:11:01 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Susan Dworski alerted us to this beautiful little video about the culture of chocolate in Mexico. It will give you a view of the origins of the delicious sweet we love to eat, unaware how the making of it can be an act of resistance and spirituality, as is true with many endangered foods. In 4 minutes, we got (more…)

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