Right outside Rosenbad, the prime minister's chancery in central Stockholm, sits this homeless woman with the face of a fox, huddled in a blanket, with a baby animal, perhaps a fox cub, perhaps a teddy bear, in her lap.
The sculpture, a permanent installation on the granite sidewalk, is from artist Laura Ford's series Rag and Bone. In 2009, the city's newspaper by and for homeless people, known as Situation Sthlm, conducted a poll on where to put the statue; the winning location was this very public and political site.
The fox also has a single boot in her lap, into which passers by frequently drop euros. People who are uncertain about dontating to living, breathing homeless people somehow feel that leaving money for a bronze fox is a good thing to do. That's the world we live in.
"I went hiking one morning at about 5 am and found this boat," Ted told his Facebook buds, referring to a morning last month when he was in Dingle, a town on the far southwestern coast of Ireland.
"I wanted to sneak it out for a ride soooo much," Ted continued. "But somehow, I managed to refrain from stealing the boat. Sadly."
That was the short story. Recently, we learned the long story–which is really only a little bit longer–during a recent conversation with our traveler, now home again in Tedland, West Virginia.
Of course he wasn't going to steal the boat; the idea was just to borrow it. And it wasn't locked. It was just tied up with so many ropes, so many knots, big knots, tight knots, and it was five in the morning, way too early to be fussing with lots and lots of tightly tied knots.
In other words, sadly, Ted was too lazy (hungover?) to take the boat. So he kept on walking.
Retreating glaciers some ten thousand years ago left behind vast stretches of land scraped bare of trees, initially supporting only grasses and other low-lying scrub, in a climate generally so humid that grassland would normally yield to forest. Much of this post-glacial prairieland did revert to forest, but by burning off the old growth every spring, Native peoples prevented tree seedlings from taking root and thus maintained many thousands of acres as grassland for grazing their horses and other livestock.
However, the prairies of Western Washington were the first land grabbed by invading Europeans; lacking tree cover, they were ready-made for cropland and pasture. Farms and cities grew. The ancient practice of annual burns was abandoned, and big trees were soon thriving.
Only a few tiny remnants of these prairies remain, grassy islands in a sea of trees, and they are ecologically degraded now to varying extents. Much of the remaining acreage is entrusted to the Center for Natural Lands Management, a nonprofit that attempts to restore and preserve the South Sound prairies. Annual burning regimes have been reinstated.
Above is a bit of the grass in Glacial Heritage Preserve, a prairie in Thurston County, Washington, that is open to the public only on volunteer work days.
An old skyscraper, the Art Deco Suburban Station building from 1930, peeks out at left from behind Philadelphia's newest and tallest skyscraper, the Comcast Center, completed in 2008. Reflected in the angled blue glass of the Concast tower are the upper floors of the Mellon Bank Center across the street.
Behind the 'scrapers is lots and lots of city sprawling into the night across the Delaware Valley.
Comcast is currently building itself a newer and even taller tower, which is rising off to the right of the buildings seen here. The lower floors will be occupied by Comcast and Telemundo, and the upper floors will be rooms with a view in a Four Seasons Hotel.