Start your weekend with a curated list of nature-y things from around the internet.
"The events that make up the action of Woodswoman took place in the early years of the Vietnam War. Its publication came later, when the pain of the war’s legacy had left a country divided, families and hearts broken, and the political landscape covered in the detritus of disenchantment. I read Woodswoman this November, a moment of equal hopelessness, borne of a nation’s retreat into fear and suspicion and beset by the seeming impossibility of humans to transcend derision and self-destruction. A turn away from the disappointing world of human affairs, toward the succor of the natural and wild, has appeal now; its promise of reprieve is luminous against the grime of the present. Anne LaBastille did not present the life of a woodswoman—a woman living alone in the wild, a woman in search of solitude and solace—as an escape from the world’s grittier realities. But in living it and writing of it, she made a different reality, and for all the women who have come after, a possibility."
The Long, Politically Fraught History of Seeds in the U.S., in Atlas Obscura
"For nearly a century, the federal government was organized around the reality of the economy, which is that it was still strongly agrarian. Many early post offices were hubs for picking up seeds. It wasn’t a cheap program, either: At one point in the late 1800s, roughly a third of the USDA’s budget was dedicated to distributing seeds around the country. And some political parties wanted the seed program to go even further."
Vivipary and the Tomato (AKA Tomato Live Birth, eeek) in Steve Spangler Science
"Instead of getting mushy, like most tomatoes would do after a few days, this tomato got fertile. A tomato is, biologically, a fruit, since its seeds are on on the inside, and those seeds had germinated. When this happens, it’s called Vivipary, which is Latin for “live birth” My tomato, meant for salad, was experiencing live birth."
Hillbilly Ethnography, in The New Inquiry
"Vance is a conservative–albeit of the #NeverTrump variety–and he prescribes conservative values to rectify the Rust Belt’s “culture in crisis.” He takes great pains to insist that the decline of industry is not responsible for “a culture that increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it,” that reacts “to bad circumstances in the worst way possible”: with hedonism, materialism, poor work ethic, lack of thrift, disregard for family obligations, and a victim mentality. Those sound like the pathologies conservatives have long attributed to black Americans, as Sarah Jones points out in the New Republic, because that’s exactly what they are. (“I have known many welfare queens,” Vance writes, “some were my neighbors, and all were white.”) Like all bootstraps narratives, Vance’s focus on self-improvement distracts from the structural causes of the suffering that plagues his hometown."
There's nothing I can say to give a fortune-telling squirrel context. Except to say that if any of the above depressed you, just remember that people and creatures like this exist. For more on squirrels and to possibly depress you again...
In 1918, California Drafted Children Into a War On Squirrels, in Atlas Obscura
"In April 1918, as American doughboys faced down the Germans in France, California’s schoolchildren were enlisted to open a new Western Front. “We have enemies here at home more destructive, perhaps, than some of the enemies our boys are fighting in the trenches,” state horticulture commissioner George H. Hecke warned in an impassioned call-up for “School Soldiers.” He exhorted children to do their part for Uncle Sam by organizing “a company of soldiers in your class or in your school” and marching out to destroy their foe: “the squirrel army.”