Maverick’s Mischief

Maverick is originally from Columbus, Ohio but prefers to produce his offspring up in Canton, an hour and forty minute trip by car. The trip is quicker for Maverick, as he prefers to fly. He was born in 2000 and by 2003 his first girl was born. They named her Lady Justice. By 2004, Maverick fathered four more offspring but it was 2005 through 2009 that he found his true love. Priscilla caught his attention, maybe it was her long neck, or the way her dark eyes scanned his face slowly, meaningful; we can never know for sure. But what we do know is that in their four blissful years together, they added 18 little ones to the planet. 2010 was a bad year; Priscilla and Maverick ended their relationship, possibly due to the stress of raising such a large family. Maverick went back to is wilder ways and fathered 4 chicks with and unknown female. Possibly, she was simply a rebound to Priscilla, his one true love.

Every year Maverick’s mischief is celebrated by the good people of Canton, Ohio. Maverick prefers to birth his youngsters at the Chase Tower Canton Club on the corner of Market Avenue and Tuscarawas Street smack dab in the middle of downtown. He’s a bit of showman, Maverick, nesting his little home on the ledge of the 14th floor. Maverick is a Peregrine Falcon, and he and his multitude of chicklets were considered an endangered species back in the 1970’s. This status is what kick started all the fuss these dedicated Cantonians raise each spring when the falcon’s eggs hatch. The Ohio Division of Wildlife are a sentimental bunch, so each year after the hatchlings prove their viability, they are displayed for the public in a sort of group birthday party. This year the little ones poked themselves into the world on May 1 and about 100 people watched the banding ceremony. Maverick has flown the coop, but is expected to continue to do his part to remove the Peregrine Falcon off the endangered list, bird by bird.

Yale Makes Extensive Digital Image Collection Available to the Public

Sepia-toned rocking chair on a front porchRural American Baroque by Ralph Steiner/via Yale Digital Commons

The above image comes from Yale University’s Yale Digital Commons, a digital collection of images recently made available for online public access and use.  According to Yale’s news release:

Scholars, artists and other individuals around the world will enjoy free access to online images of millions of objects housed in Yale’s museums, archives, and libraries thanks to a new “Open Access” policy that the University announced today. Yale is the first Ivy League university to make its collections accessible in this fashion, and already more than 250,000 images are available through a newly developed collective catalog.

The goal of the new policy is to make high quality digital images of Yale’s vast cultural heritage collections in the public domain openly and freely available.

Thank you to Yale for providing this valuable service.

This photograph was taken in 1929 by Ralph Steiner, an American photographer of Czech origin, and was donated to Yale in 1932 by one George Hopper Fitch. What initially interests me about this image is the title: Rural American Baroque. Steiner can rightly call the image rural because it recalls the confirmed rural practice of front porch sitting. But the addition of Baroque complicates the issue because Baroque is not something that one normally associates with rural America, nor is the chair really reflective of iconic Baroque style, which generally refers to an artistic or design style that is very ornate and highly decorated. Perhaps the photographer is referring to the the chair’s decorative scroll pattern, which is something like Baroque in that it is decorative and not simply utilitarian.  The addition of Baroque suggests a nice contradiction to traditional or common notions of rural as connoting simple, no-frills sort of design and lifestyle.

This photograph is visually interesting because the doppelganger shadow of the chair is more visible than the chair itself. Even though the chair itself is centered in the photograph and appears to be the subject, the shadow continually draws my attention away from the chair. It seems then that the shadow is the true subject of this photograph, especially because it is in the shadow that one can more clearly see the Baroque-like style which is referred to in the photograph’s title.

-Josie Javens

Rural Destruction

1940 Flood in Cullowhee, NC. Photo courtesy of: digitalheritage.org

The photo above is a picture taken after one of many floods that occurred in the Western part of North Carolina in 1940. During this time, the Great Depression was still occurring, and many people were still struggling throughout the nation. If the economy was not bad enough already, the flood of 1940 in Cullowhee, North Carolina made it worse for the local Jackson County residents. This photo is more than just the image of pin-point chaos after a massive flood; it is a representation of what was happening all across Western North Carolina in 1940, the destruction of rurality.

The photo is taken on Old Cullowhee Road, right next to Western Carolina University. The flood was so powerful that it uprooted the bridge which allowed primary access for local residents and students alike to the surrounding areas. At the point when this picture was taken the water had subsided and was on the decline, however, the damage done is clearly evident. Despite all the technology of the time, even in this rural town, nature had its way and won this fight. This is just but one instance of the destruction that was usurping local rural towns through Western North Carolina.

The river shown in the photo is known as the Tuckasegee River, or more commonly referred to by its residents and students as the “Tuck.” The Tuck runs through most of Western North Carolina and it is a favorite for local residents and tourists for white water rafting, kayaking, and tubing. Today, a newer stronger bridge is set in place on old Cullowhee Road. Many residents still live right alongside the river, hoping that it will remain calm, however, residents are always on alert to the dangers that the Tuckasegee River presents. If residents or students ever forget, they can always look to the photos from 1940 as a reminder of what nature can do. Hopefully the Tuck will remain calm, and this tranquil, peaceful, and beautiful rural town of Cullowhee, North Carolina can remain unchanged, incased in all of its rural splendor.

-John Temple

Hidden Rural Gem

Madisonville, Louisiana. Photo taken by: John Temple

Whenever I am asked where someone should go to enjoy Louisiana I immediately say New Orleans. I mention places like Jackson Square, Café Du Monde, and, of course, Bourbon Street. Rarely, however, do I ever mention my favorite place to go: Madisonville. Perhaps I never mention Madisonville to others out of sure spite, or perhaps it’s because I am worried that it will become just another tourist attraction and lose its overwhelming appeal; that can only be defined as rurality.

Madisonville is traditionally named after the fourth President of the United States, James Madison. Madisonville is a quiet, peaceful, and, most of all, rural town. Undisturbed by the surrounding cities, the town has found a way to remain rural despite the ever expanding population after hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans in 2005.

The photo above, represents more than just a piece of Madisonville, it represents the essence of the city. The expansive green cypress trees shade the natural landscape keeping the old plantation-style houses hidden upon first glance. If you could see on the other side of the photo you would see a deep and dark murky river, brown from the sediments that have been tumultuously rounded up from the constant battering of storms and hurricanes.

As a boy my paw-paw would take me to the river and we would spend hours just watching the boats go by. As I grew older I found that Madisonville would become my haven to visit whenever I ventured to come home during my time in service. Whether I was gone a month, or coming back from a deployment, Madisonville was always where I went to clear my head. This rural town with its muddy banks and salty air is unforgettable. Whenever I look back on my favorite parts of life and Louisiana, Madisonville will be at the top.

-John Temple

Garden by the Foot

Square Foot Gardening“Square Foot Gardening” – photo from Robert Goodwin‘s Flickr photostream

Developed in the 1970s by Mel Bartholomew, Square Foot Gardening produces the same amount of vegetables and fruit as traditional single-row gardens in a fraction of the space. These small, raised beds are popular among urban dwellers with limited space, particularly since they do not require digging–they build up rather than down–and can survive well in areas with poor soil. Furthermore, Bartholomew explains in his original text (there is now a second book) that this design “conserve[s] the amount of water, soil conditioners, and labor,” making it economical in a variety of ways.

The first step in creating your own square foot garden is to obtain or create a “box,” either of wood, brick, or stone. Although wood is perhaps the most common material used in this design (they can be found in yards all around West Asheville, for instance), some gardeners are wary of rotting and prefer brick or stone for that reason (this raised bed kit made from recycled materials and sold by Sam’s club is perhaps another option). The size of your garden box is, of course, dependent on location and the amount of available space; however, the default measurements for first-time square foot gardeners is 4′ x4′. It is important to be able to reach across the garden without having to step inside the box and onto the soil, so take that into consideration as well. For those with bad backs and/or pesky pets, try a table top design.

Once the box is complete, create a grid with whatever material you prefer–string, wood, metal, etc.–of 1′ x 1′ squares. There are several factors at play in determining the plants suitable for your garden, including climate and sunlight, but once those details are squared away (punny, right?) then you are ready to plan(t)! Honestly, a large amount of planning is involved in square foot gardens, but they are worth it. Be sure to allow enough depth for crops such as potatoes, provided trellises and support for tomatoes and vertically growing runners such as cucumber, and place the appropriate number of plants in each square foot (for instance, one broccoli plant per square, but up to sixteen plants for onion).

All of this information is available on the web. There are many websites, blogs, and forums dedicated to square foot gardening, and, of course, Bartholomew’s books are invaluable. Although I grew up in a rural area of North Carolina, I’ve been an urban apartment dweller for the last five years and have been limited to container gardening. My tomato and sunflower plants grew taller than me (not a great feat, really, since I’m barely 5’1″), but it still did not feel enough like gardening to please my little rural heart. This summer, however, I move into a house in West Asheville, and my first major project involves constructing a square foot garden. I cannot contain my excitement (buh-dum-bum)!

–Britt Garrett