In the remnant orchard of Liberty Hyde Bailey at Bailiwick, Camp Comstock, Ithaca, NY. Photo by author, taken this past August.

The semester is not only in full swing, but has somehow entered midterm season. I am in my first semester of neither teaching nor coursework as I plow through (more like dig around in) my first dissertation chapter. My current task has largely involved synthesizing Liberty Hyde Bailey’s vast and diverse work and making it legible to literary studies and ecocriticism. My advice to friends is not to ask too pointedly about how it’s going — the first chapter (so I’m told) is often the hardest to get done. …


I would like to get past the mistaken idea that Liberty Hyde Bailey’s poetry is not worth reading.

The author’s copy of Wind and Weather (1916), Bailey’s only full-length book of poetry

I found myself immersed in Bailey poetry and poetics in the archive last week, and it has me itching to say something about it. In her recent study of Progressive-Era naturism, narratives of degeneracy, and modernist poetry, The Degenerate Muse, Robin G. Schulze devotes a substantial amount of space to Bailey — both his poetic theory, as expressed most clearly in The Outlook to Nature, and to some of his own poems in which he sought to embody his own ideal of…


It may not look like much, but this slightly spicy, slightly sweet, somehow savory kusherie, from the 25th-Anniversary Edition of More-with-Less, made me feel pretty gourmet. Definitely glad I decided against Papa John’s this time.

Last night I felt tired. It was a good tired. I had managed to fit into the afternoon a trip to the Ithaca Farmers Market for some fresh groceries, a short run around part of the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, a quick shower, and an attempt at a brand-new (for me) recipe for dinner — the Egyptian rice-and-lentil dish kusherie, from my More-with-Less cookbook (which I had planned to really dive into this summer, but was actually opening for the first time in years) which ended up much more delicious than I expected and yielded enough that I think I’m set…


It’s funny how the best documents appear on accident at the end of the day. You’re tired, you’ve been sifting through a marginally or only potentially interesting stack of correspondence for much of the afternoon, and then, with half an hour until the reading room closes, you request that wild card box. This was what happened several years ago when I requested Box 18, one of the three I had reserved ahead of time purely because of its absence from the finding aid, and in it I found a grail — not one, but two full-length unpublished book manuscripts that…


As many already know, scientists confirmed today that an iceberg larger than the state of Delaware broke away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. The departure of the 2,240-square-mile iceberg, the largest ever recorded, from the 120-mile-long crack in the 820-foot-deep ice shelf, will require maps of the peninsula and continent to be redrawn, and, as it drifts into the open ocean, slowly melting as it departs from mainland Antarctica, it will become yet another domino falling toward the redrawing of coastal areas (and erasure of islands) across all of the planet’s continents as global sea…


Looking up through a structure at Hamtramck Disneyland in Hamtramck, MI, while stopping by with my NYU buddy Nate Preus during the ASLE conference in Detroit. The chaos here somewhat represents the past couple weeks of travel. Photo by author.

I’m a firm believer that the best academic work flows from and feeds into what we often call our “personal” lives. Thursday evening I returned to Ithaca, New York after a two-week whirlwind tour around parts of the upper Midwest that are especially important to me. And, man, was it a whirlwind. On June 16, I made it to my hometown of South Haven, Michigan (after something like a nine-hour drive) in time to celebrate my mom’s birthday; on the 17th, I drove down to Gary, Indiana to celebrate the marriage of a couple dear college friends who I hadn’t…


Hi, all! Sorry for the silence during my recent two weeks of traveling around the upper Midwest. I’ll have a post together about that journey probably tomorrow, but first, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the beginning of another journey that a good friend of mine, John Stempien, has recently begun.

Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum staff, Summer 2012. That’s John Stempien on the far right, the day we opened an exhibit he curated of Bailey’s original photography developed straight from the museum’s glass plate negatives, titled “Through the Lens of L. H. Bailey: Plants, Places, and People.” To the left of John are Derek Nightingale, Lauren Denny, and me on the far left.

I won’t say much about it, other than that John (or Stemp, as he is also affectionately known) has always been on a sort of journey with Liberty Hyde Bailey’s writings and life story, much as I have been for the past seven years. John was the…


Archival research is a treasure hunt, but with the important caveat that you don’t get to take home the treasure you dig up. The value of archival treasure is also different, of course, and much of it is retained in reproduction. The words, and more nuanced elements like the expression in the handwriting, carry much of the value, at least to the researcher, and in this sense the camera is your friend. But there is never enough time to see it all. …


In 1888, Liberty Hyde Bailey had a big transition to make. He had accepted a new position, after just two and a half years of professorial life as Chair of the nation’s first Department of Horticulture and Landscape Gardening at State Agricultural College in Michigan (now Michigan State University), to become Professor of Horticulture at Cornell University, where he felt he would have more leeway to build an epicenter for the broad, interdisciplinary study of agriculture. But Cornell also had to do a bit of wooing, it seems, to get him away from Michigan, so to sweeten the pot they…


One day after my return, I can imagine no adequate way to articulate the full gift that was the Bread Loaf Orion Environmental Writers’ Conference, a week-long gathering of writers (you might picture a sort of “camp” for grownups) to come together for workshops, readings, lectures, and craft classes at the Bread Loaf Mountain Campus of Middlebury College, up in the Green Mountains. So, I’ll offer none of that. …

John Linstrom

Writer, reader, student, teacher, walker, talker, naturist, humanist, music-maker. www.johnlinstrom.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store