Lingonberries

In Sweden they have lingonberries, a wild berry that’s harvested in the Fall and used to make jams, jellies, syrup, and preserves. Nowadays most Americans have heard of them because of IKEA, but when I was growing up it was something only Swedish-Americans knew about. It was a great treat when we’d find the finished … Read more

All Things Cosy

I’m intrigued by this article I found on BBC. “How did a bucolic dreamland became the perfect escape from real life? Anita Rao Kashi explores a whimsical world of nostalgia, tranquillity and folksy mysticism. A few weeks into lockdowns everywhere, a curious thing happened on Instagram feeds. More and more, they filled with images of … Read more

Slaver Profits in Scotland

There has been a flurry of activity around a new study linking the Atlantic slave trade to the Highland clearances. 18th and 19th centuries. Fascinating stuff. I read the Smithsonian article first. “Sure,” I thought, “we knew this already.” Or at least some of us could easily guess. If you read history, at some point … Read more

Tomten

In the novel American Gods, Neil Gaiman quotes Richard Dorson: “One question that has always intrigued me is what happens to demonic beings when immigrants move from their homelands. Irish-Americans remember the fairies, Norwegian-Americans the nisser, Greeek-Americans the vrykólakas, but only in relation to events remembered in the Old County: When I once asked why … Read more

City States in America

The Ancient World had city states. Sometimes they became empires. And then when the empires collapsed they sometimes became nations. (Although–the modern ethnic nation state is more or less a late European invention.) When I was a kid, I used to imagine, particularly on car trips, that the cities around me were like ancient city … Read more

Myth of the frontier

I keep watch for pieces about the mythology of the American West. Westerns and cowboys are the American myth, hands down. My neo-pagan friends find meaning in Norse culture, in Celtic culture, in every romanticized period of history except America. I’m not going to embed this one because it’s so long: How Historians Killed the … Read more

Waco

We watched Waco last Sunday night. It was, for me, unimaginably powerful. Here’s a trailer from YouTube. In 1993 the ATF got a search warrant for the Branch Davidian headquarters in Waco, Texas, and an arrest warrant for David Koresh, the religious leader of the group, on weapons charges. Instead of serving the warrants, the … Read more

Heritage of Hate

I hadn’t planned to write about Southern identity any time in the immediate future. I decided to do it because of this excellent video by The Cynical Historian. He does interesting work and this one is particularly good. The video is particularly timely right at the moment, when America is governed seemingly by un-reconstructed Confederates … Read more

Daughter of Time

As a Riccardian, Josephine Tey’s novel Daughter of Time is an old favorite. Re-reading last night. I didn’t expect it to provide an example of how researchers go wrong. The story goes like this. Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is convalescing after an injury. A friend triggers his interest in Richard III and the … Read more