Art & Culture,  Nature

Happy Anniversary, Little Blog!

Last August, I decided I wanted to create something that would celebrate the richness of the world around us. Life feels heavy these days and news and the internet only seem to add to the weight, but in the face of climate change and all the other challenges we face, it is still possible, and probably even essential, to be amazed by nature and human creativity. I wanted This Wild Curiosity to be a place that explores some of the cool things the natural and artistic world has to offer. Writing this blog has led me to all sorts of interesting places and given me the chance to research and share information on a variety of topics that I never would have imagined a year ago. 

An anniversary post seems like the perfect time to do a Top 5 list (if not now, when?), so here are my five favourite blogs from the past year. 

Wild About Mary Pratt

A realistic painting of two jam jars sitting on a windowsill. Both jars are nearly empty. The left jar contains remnants of red jam, the right jar, orange jam.
Smears of Jam, Lights of Jelly. by Mary Pratt 2007. Photo via wikiart.

I’ve known about Mary Pratt for years, but it wasn’t until I wrote this article that I really understood how provocative her work is. Like many women who juggle family and creativity, her paintings are a pointed commentary about the expectations of women. Writing this piece has really made me think about the space women have to be creative and the forms that takes. 

Wild About Desire Paths

An aerial photo of meandering pathway and the more direct desire path that has been created beside it.
Philip Mallis CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When I started this blog, I didn’t expect that I would become so fascinated with urban design. Learning about desire paths was a fascinating exploration of how urban design fails us and the ways we assert our own will over the landscape. Now, whenever I step on a desire path or take a shortcut, I think about the circumstances that led to that choice.

Wild About Wonder

A night view of the Milky Way, showing a field of stars above the silhouette of mountains and Joshua trees.
Benjamin Inouye, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I spend a lot of time thinking about the factors that connect us to the natural world and to each other. Learning about the role wonder plays in building those connections and the benefits it provides really reinforced what I wanted to accomplish with this blog. It’s easy to take the world for granted, but learning to seek out wonder in a deliberate way can shift perspectives. Understanding wonder has almost given me permission to lean into those moments when I find them in my own life.

Wild About Umwelt

A dolphin swims underwater in the ocean.
טל שמע, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I was researching something else when I stumbled across the concept of umwelt—the idea that no two beings share an identical experience of the world. Even after doing the research and writing the article, it still hurts my brain a little to conceptualize the idea that every living thing is experiencing the world in a slightly different way. For me, umwelt makes me think about how valuable imagination is in understanding the world around us. We can never experience the world in the same way as a grizzly bear or a marmot, instead we have to rely on imagination and empathy.

Wild About Plant Communication

A forest of coastal Douglas-fir trees. The tree trunks are covered in moss. In the foreground, a fallen tree lies amid a bed of ferns.
Sang Trinh, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A hidden theme to a number of the topics I’ve delved into is how our biases have shaped our research into ecology and biology. Our understanding of plants continues to grow (see what I did there?) and learning about the ways plants communicate really highlighted how much we still have to learn in this area. The story of Boquila—the plant that may be able to mimic artificial plant leaves—shows that there are still many unknowns in our understanding of how plants interact with their environments.

Finding weekly topics for this blog has led me down a variety of rabbit holes and having a weekly deadline has made me a better writer. The internet is a big place for a little blog and I’m grateful to everyone who has found me and read my words—I hope they’ve given you things to think about or new questions to explore. Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to share all the things I’m curious about in the next twelve months!

PS. Watch for a new addition to this blog. Starting this Friday, I will be sharing some of the essays and longer reads that I’ve found that don’t fit elsewhere on my site.