In Praise of the Hedgerow

keep-calm-and-ignore-the-bustle-in-your-hedgerow-3

No I’m not going to try to interpret those Led Zeppelin lyrics. But hedgerows? They rock.

The traditional practice of letting nature have part of the farm turns out to have many benefits. Beneficial insects love hedgerows. A University of California study, Hedgerows enhance beneficial insects on farms in California’s Central Valley, backs this up and discusses specific plants.

Wouldn’t it be cool if whole cities could function as hedgerows? What if we took out all those lawns and planted native and/or flowering climate-appropriate plants instead?

In a somewhat rambling lecture I just gave to a group of Master Gardeners, I sang the praises of that UC study and also linked it to another nice resource, the UC Davis Arboretum Allstar list of plants that look good, provide habitat and don’t need a lot of maintenance.

Combine these two resources with a third, Piet Oudolf’s magnificent ideas about plant design in his book Planting: A New Persepctive and I think we might just be able to save the world.

Saturday Tweets: Food, Simple Living and Bikes

A murmuration of starlings

I’ve discovered that there is an entire subgenre of YouTube videos on starling murmuration. This one that I’m sharing with you is short, has an exciting raptor cameo, and David Tennant, but it was hard to choose among them. I highly recommend getting lost among the starlings today.

As the poet Mary Oliver wrote in “Starlings in Winter” by (Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays), “Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us.”

And murmuration–isn’t that a fantastic word?

Introducing the People Washer

peoplewasher 1Another gem from the June 1977 issue of The Futurist, an excerpt from Stephen Rosen’s book Future Facts: The way things are going to work in the future of technology, science, medicine and life (available for a penny on Amazon!).

Egg-shaped “People Washer” is an ultrasonic bath developed by the Sanyo Electric Company of Japan. The machine showers and bathes the body, cleans the skin, massages the muscles, and dries the person off.

To take a bath, the bather selects the water temperature, climbs inside the egg, and starts the machine. The machine first gives the bather a warm shower, then begins ultrasonic washing with bubbly warm water. Then the bath fills with warm water to a set level, at which point the water intake automatically shuts off and the hot water begins to whirl, cleaning the body even more thoroughly. While the water whirls, small rubber balls float around in the water, massage the skin, and relax the muscles. After seven minutes of washing and rubber-ball massage, the bath water drains from the sphere and the body is reshowered for two minutes. The shower and the ultrasonic waves cease and the water is drained out. Finally there is a dry cycle during which low moisture air circulates through the chamber. The entire cycle takes 15 minutes.

As crazy as this sounds, it looks like a version of it actually got made for taking care of elderly folks.