@katie.one / @monicabeatrice / @parisperfectrentals
VANLIFE#, The Bohemian Social-Media Movement
Emily King and Corey Smith had been dating for five months when they took a trip to Central America, in February, 2012. At a surf resort in Nicaragua, Smith helped a lanky American named Foster Huntington repair the dings in his board. When the waves were choppy, the three congregated in the resort’s hammock zone, where the Wi-Fi signal was strongest. One afternoon, Huntington listened to the couple have a small argument. Something about their fond irritation made him think that they’d be suited to spending long periods of time together in a confined space. “You guys would be great in a van,” he told them.
The year before, Huntington had given up his apartment in New York and his job as a designer at Ralph Lauren, and moved into a 1987 Volkswagen Syncro. He spent his days surfing, exploring, and taking pictures of his van parked in picturesque locations along the California coast. It was the early days of Instagram, and, over time, Huntington accumulated more than a million followers. He represented a new kind of social-media celebrity, someone famous not for starring in movies or recording hit songs but for documenting an enviable life. “My inspiration,” went a typical comment on one of his posts. “God I wish my life was that free and easy and amazing.” Huntington tagged his posts with phrases like #homeiswhereyouparkit and #livesimply, but the tag he used most often was #vanlife.
Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker
When The Cows Come Home
The breezy open-air milking barn on Mirella Ravera’s farm is as serene as a yoga studio. Cows wearing ankle bracelets wander freely between open stalls lined with latex pads covered with sand and a top layer of straw that’s fluffed twice a day. At one end of the barn, bristly back-scratchers are mounted at the height of a cow’s ribs and an automated feeder dispenses food (or doesn’t) after synching with a cow’s bracelet to determine whether she has had her meal allocation. Ravera had the barn built in 2011 specifically to accommodate a 24-hour milking machine manufactured in Britain. The cows stroll unprompted to its gate, where they queue patiently. When an animal’s bracelet confirms that she is due to be milked, the gate swings open and she stands, facing a feeding bin, while the laser-guided pump milks her. The job takes five minutes.
Some 1,200 litres of milk are piped every day into a stainless-steel tank in a room next to Ravera’s workshop. What she doesn’t use to make original cheeses – like ciucco (meaning “drunk”), aged for at least 30 days in grape stems from the wine harvest, and zafran, a beautiful square of cheese coloured pale orange and subtly flavoured with crushed saffron – she sells to a milk-bottler in Liguria.
Read the rest of this article at: 1843 Magazine
Lessons of the Hermit
In the 27 years he lived in the Maine woods, Christopher Knight said a single word. Because he never spoke to himself and avoided humanity with the guile of a samurai, he went decades without using his voice. In his hidden forest encampment he laughed silently and he sneezed silently, so fearful was he of being discovered. The only time he spoke came at some point in the 1990s, when he was surprised by a hiker during a walk. “Hi,” Knight said. The hiker barely looked up, not realizing that he was face-to-face with the legendary hermit of North Pond.
Since his arrest in April 2013, Knight has agreed to be interviewed by a single journalist. Michael Finkel published an article about him in GQ in 2014 and has now written a book, The Stranger in the Woods, that combines an account of Knight’s story with an absorbing exploration of solitude and man’s eroding relationship with the natural world. Though the “stranger” in the title is Knight, one closes the book with the sense that Knight, like all seers, is the only sane person in a world gone insane—that modern civilization has made us strangers to ourselves.
Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic
Free the Roses
A guide to making roses bloom on a specific date, for a special occasion, is divided into four elements: timing, technique, hedging your bets, and considerations. Addressed to home gardeners in San Francisco, the guide minus context is one of the two most applicable advice columns I’ve read this year, the other being an op-ed in the Washington Post encouraging Chelsea Clinton, for the sake of her “political future,” to “disappear.” For me a garden seems unlikelier to have than a political future. Still, I am interested in how roses live. I find out, for instance, that the first auroral blooms in the International Test Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon arrived by the end of March, as they did last year and the year before and as they did not in the years before that, when the seasons had order. Gardeners talking to newspapers are sometimes concerned, knowing that a backlash to the early warmth, a frost in mid-April, can blight a rose before it fully lives. By summer the bloom cycles are easier to control, and begin when the gardener “deadheads” the roses, inducing new life; when it is warmer the blooming season is longer, which sounds ideal. Not so, explains an Australian rose grower, saying that a shorter hibernation means “the roses are being put under more stress.”
Read the rest of this article at: Hazlitt
How Nostalgia Made America Great Again
When the present looks bleak, we reach for a rose-tinted past.
Make America great again. Clearly the message resonated. In 2016, prior to the presidential election, the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan group, published its annual American Values Survey. It revealed 51 percent of the population felt the American way of life had changed for the worse since the 1950s. Further, 7 in 10 likely Donald Trump voters said American society has gotten worse since that romanticized decade.
Of course America today has its problems, but many indices of standards of living show the general population is better off now than it was 60 years ago. We live on average 10 years longer, the education rate is higher, as is homeownership. When it comes to crime, The Atlantic reported last year, “By virtually any metric, Americans now live in one of the least violent times in the nation’s history.”
So why do so many people see the past as better than today? For many of them, it may well have been. Middle- and working-class Americans seduced by appeals to earlier eras may have had higher-paying jobs with better benefits, greater financial security, and a more defined place in the community. Perhaps they were happier. For some, cultural changes since the Saturday night sock-hop may have only strengthened their beliefs that American values have frayed. But an innate psychological trait may also explain why people tend to view the past as better than today: nostalgia.
Most everybody knows the term nostalgia, if not its origin. It was coined by Swiss physician Johannes Hofer in 1688: a portmanteau of nostos and algos, Greek words for homecoming and pain or distress, respectively. And most have an understanding that nostalgia means finding pleasure in remembering or reliving a past experience—hearing a favorite old song, for instance, or remembering a stirring love affair.
Recent science, though, makes good on the etymology of the term. It reveals nostalgia is not just a wistful glow associated with pleasurable events and experiences. It is an innate response to pain or distress, and, in some sense, a coming home. What’s more, cognitive scientists say, a defining trait of nostalgia is its capacity to distort the past.
In the process of looking back, people tend to filter out negative or painful experiences. Memories themselves are often not what they seem. They are not hardwired in our brains, a factual representation of our autobiographical pasts. Rather, memory is fluid, and we’re constantly reframing our personal histories to fit into a greater life arc. In many cases, the past looks as halcyon as it does because rosy hindsight molds it to appear that way to help us maintain mental health. Our past is constantly shifting to accommodate our present.
Read the rest of this article at: Nautilus