Volume 1, Issue iii
Wild Greens 1, no. 3 (January 2021)
Welcome to the January 2021 issue of Wild Greens
It’s the first month of the new year, and we’re looking forward to feeling some changes. Since the start of lockdown and the stay at home orders, time has passed, but without the usual rituals and markers. It sometimes seems like very little has changed at all. For this issue, themed "Changes," we were inspired by the lyrics of a song from Adventure Time, “Everything Stays.”Let's go in the gardenYou'll find something waitingRight there where you left it lying upside downWhen you finally find it, you'll see how it's fadedThe underside is lighter when you turn it aroundEverything stays right where you left itEverything staysBut it still changesEver so slightly, daily and nightly
In little ways, when everything stays.
Even when we stay still, we’re experiencing changes, some welcome, and some unwelcome. Everything stays, but it still changes.
Are you a different person than you were last year?
We begin with Lauren Kimball’s comic “The Resume,” featuring Turtle and his foil, Hare. Lauren’s comic captures the hesitancy that comes along with transitions and the feeling of being behind when we compare ourselves to others. Then, we move to Hayley Boyle’s anthem of a poem on the idea of not changing. Women’s bodies are particularly exposed to commentary, criticism, and judgment from others, and “You’ll Change Your Mind” is addressed to all those who think they know us better than we know ourselves.
We then transition to a series by Noah Erkes entitled “Portraits.” The art of the portrait both captures a person in time while simultaneously documenting a person who no longer exists. Noah’s photos explore the theme of change through their focus on parents, children, aging, and seasons. From there, we go to Jordyn Ruth’s personal essay “A Common Story.” Jordyn writes of personal change and transformation: “The tangle of identity, community, livelihood, and capitalism's brutal force have brought me, kicking and screaming, into a new phase of my life.”
We see transformation, too, in the pendants of Caroline Maccagnan-Joyce. Caroline transforms black walnuts into tiny jewel boxes of light and color: “It is a great thrill to change something natural and unassuming into something that makes people take notice.” Caroline’s pendants lead us to Katie Huey’s spellbinding essay on sourdough. From the smallest of places, the biggest metamorphosis: an eight-ounce mason jar of sourdough starter becomes the point of reflection on simple things and simple combinations.
The issue closes with Sam Ken’s “What the Tide Brought In.” The ocean is a bit like the little sourdough starter that conceals much greater things. Sam writes, of his ocean scene, “It captures a unique moment in time that cannot be exactly repeated. There is a rhythm to life, and that rhythm involves change. Now more than ever, we have all accepted changes, and personal growth is a part of that.”
by Lauren Kimball
Caption: "Step 1. Read Sample Resumes."
Inspiration: "The Resume" comes from an unpublished comic series I call "Turtle and Hare." I started drawing Turtle a few years ago (adapted from Aesop's fable) to express a feeling of being perennially late and "behind," especially as compared to "Hare," Turtle's foil. Like many of us, Turtle is going through a transition. He's mustered up the courage to work on his resume . . .
"You'll Change Your Mind"
by Hayley Boyle“You’re young.”“But it’s life changing!”“Oh, your instincts will kick in.”“You’ll change your mind.”Or so I’m told anytime I share that I want to be childless.No.Not child-less.Child. Free.
Because to be child-less means that I am living my life in absence of a child.But there is no absence,for absence means that there is a lack—a want.But I do not lack. I do not want.This is my choice.This is my decision.This is my life.And I will be free.Free from waking at 3am to cries in the night, when I was already awoken at 1:45 and midnight, too—and knowing I will be up again at 4:30 and 6.Free from mashed carrots burped up on my shoulder.From little toenails and fingernails that need clipping.From Tickle-Me-Elmo and Tonka Trucks.From choking hazards.From scraped knees.From sticky fingers.And the flu.
Perhaps these are absences.And if so, then let me be child-less and child free.
Free from child-proofing the cabinets, table corners, bath-tub, windows, doors, curling irons, outlets, power tools, dog house, stovetop, even the damn hot light bulbs in the lamps.From railings that are just set far enough apart to get your head through, but not out—and, oh yes, I would know.Because I’ve been therewhen I was a child.And, why, yes, I’m glad I’m alive—that my mother wanted me.
But, this is no judgement war.
I do not begrudge others for their choices, decisions, lives.I did not tell my friends, “You’re young, your mind will change,” when they told me at 16, and 19, and 21 that they wanted children (and not child, I’m talking plural, as in many children).And yet, I’m told I'm crazy and I'm told, “You’re young, your mind will change.”And I ask, why is it okay to make the permanent life choice to have children,but not okay to make the permanent life choice not to?
I am woman.Hear me snore. All.The way.Through. The night.
by Noah Erkes
Digital Camera to capture image layers; Adobe Photoshop to manipulate/merge/blend layers.
Inspiration: I've always been inspired the most by surrealist works of art; my primary influences are Esao Andrews (painting) and Jerry Uelsmann (photography), and I continually aspire to emulate their respective styles. When it comes to my own photography, I try to investigate the abstract by distorting and blending imagery of people, landscapes, and textures—organic and otherwise. The photos I've included here explore the theme of change through their focus on parents, children, aging, and seasons.
A Common Story
by Jordyn Ruth
My life this year has undergone such a radical change that occasionally, I find myself unrecognizable.
Sometimes I miss our one-bedroom apartment. It was so warm and cozy. It only took 45 minutes to really clean every part of it. We had arranged our little kitchen so functionally that I almost forgot how small it was.
Doug and I signed an extension of our lease for another year in January, hoping that some time in 2021 we’d be able to look for a house closer to family, but the timeline got sped up after Allie came to stay with us in March.
At the beginning, we only had her for a week. Sleeping on a couch for a week isn’t so bad, especially with some really cuddly cats available. But as time went on and we all became more and more sure that this was not a temporary situation, it became clear that we had firmly outgrown our little space.
The three of us lived in that one bedroom apartment for three months. We crowded onto our little couch, which had by then become Allie’s bed, and watched Studio Ghibli movies. We ate too many skittles and played too much Animal Crossing. I made various breads and Doug made them into tomato sandwiches to be sure we were all eating.
Cocooned in our tiny apartment, we felt the weight of the global and social change raging outside it. We read the news on our phones and talked about it. The anxiety attacks came at night, and I clenched my teeth until my neck was tight and my jaw developed a charming new click that remains with me today.
When we finally found a place we could almost afford in Allie’s school district, it was June. Because I dropped out of college, I find it very hard to ask my family for monetary help, but the house we found was so close to Doug and Allie’s older sister, Lauren, and her family, that I swallowed my pride and brought my parents into the situation.
They were overjoyed to help and only through their kindness and generosity in co-signing our lease were we able to qualify for our new home. It is striking to me, the cyclical nature of parenting. I hope that one day Doug and I are able to provide and care for Allie in the way my parents have been willing and able to provide and care for us.
In a whirlwind week, we packed up all our earthly belongings and moved them from our tiny apartment into our new house. It was the first time I’d seen our friends since March. We masked up and packed up and ate pizza on our new porch 6 feet away from each other covered from head to toe in sweat and hand sanitizer.
Allie had her own room! With her own door! It felt so good to deliver on that promise. She and Lauren designed her room together, painted it a new color, and really made the space feel like Allie’s. With more time than money, Doug and I tried our hands at furniture making. We used repurposed items, unfinished boards, and power tools to fill up our mostly empty space. I learned how to use a router to make shelves and how to sand down old varnish. I sanded, stained, and sealed a coffee table that my dad found while driving around on trash night looking for sturdy items neighbors were getting rid of.
One day in July, after finishing up a set of coat racks for our entryway, Doug and I sat in our new living room on opposite ends of Lauren’s old couch and had another talk about marriage. I had maintained for eight years and eleven months that marriage was something I did not want to bother with. I found the whole idea unsettling and inequitable, as well as culturally overblown, but as the stress and reality of having no official relationship with Allie grew, I came to see the legal benefits of marriage as more important and necessary than my own personal discomfort with the label.
That day we decided, mutually, to sign the papers. A month later, August, on our ninth anniversary, we laid them out and signed them on our freshly transformed, trash-picked coffee table.
So now we have a new home. A place pieced together by the three of us, with help from our whole community. A place where our new family can gather to cry and laugh and celebrate and mourn. We’ve combined households with Lauren, so the seven of us come as one party now. This year, we’ve done a lot of mourning, but I see in our future the possibility for so much growth and joy. I’ve read that children can make you feel that way.
The bleakness of the world and its inhabitants is a usual topic of conversation with my therapist, but the transformation that I have undergone this year is a small light. From an individual sharing an apartment with a partner to a member of a family, a community of mutual love and support. I have become an aunt, a guardian, a married person, and a florist, among other things and while the road remains rocky and the going remains slow, at least we walk together.
Black Walnut Pendants
by Caroline Maccagnan-Joyce
Black walnuts that are harvested in the county in which I live, mica powders, resin, and colorings.
Methods: I clean and cut the walnuts before filling with resin and/ or other items.
Inspiration: For my process, I just do what feels right to me in that moment—I take inspiration from nature or life in helping me to decide what colors I want to use. It is a great thrill to change something natural and unassuming into something that makes people take notice, that sparks awe when a particular piece speaks to them.
Flour. Salt. Water. Heat.
by Katie Huey
The goop came in a six-ounce mason jar with my name scrawled in black sharpie on the metal lid. A Post-It note with a clear message clung to the glass.
“Call for instructions.”
Carrying the package inside, I placed the mysterious ingredient on my counter. At the same time, the biggest historical event of my lifetime crept closer from overseas.
In February, I was given a small batch of sourdough starter. A family friend fed and split the mix for the last twenty years. With roots in Alaska, the starter followed her to Oregon, and ended up on my front step in Colorado weeks before the pandemic hit. Spanning decades and miles, the mysterious form of life brought history to my steps.
The longevity of life struck me. Halved again and again, the mix kept working as it relied on consistent feedings to stay strong. Someone removed the old to make room for new growth.
From the table in my kitchen, I stared at the white mixture. What could we create together?
I am a lover of bread. When vacationing, I reroute to bakeries and patisseries. I’m dedicated to the search of the satisfying fall of a flaky crumb. Ripping crust into hunks, I enjoy sopping up olive oil with drizzles of balsamic - dark and sticky marring the stark white of the dough.
Bread is a love language.
I did not consider what would need to be discarded to allow for new growth.
As stay-at-home-orders buzzed through my phone, I realized travel to far off cafes would not be happening. I cancelled a trip to Ohio and declined wedding invitations. Travel guidebooks to Canada and Maine were tucked in return slots at closed libraries. For adventure I turned, instead, to the jar of potential living in my fridge.
I picked up the phone and was coached through a basic recipe.
Flour. Salt. Water. Starter. Mix. Wait.
Let heat and time combine as fermentation brings bubbles to the surface.
Knead once. Wait again.
Knead twice. Turn and fold and slice with a razor, creating space for the steam to release.
Wrestle parchment paper and a dusting of flour to situate the loaf just right.
Place in a hot oven. Wait.
Remove the lid.
Watch as your ball of dough morphs, creating a magical, crispy golden crust.
I became enchanted.
Baking on Easter Sunday at home, I nodded to my Christian roots and thought of Jesus’ red letter words as he served communion, thousands of years ago.
“This is my body, which is being broken for you.”
Outside my kitchen, things kept breaking. A virus spread quickly, stealing my peace.
Cool spring afternoons turned to hot summer ones. I’d wake earlier to bake knowing the oven would warm my kitchen sooner than the promised 90 degree temperatures. With each opening of the oven, my glasses steamed. And when the fog cleared and the bread cooled, the serrated knife met crispy crust with a tenderness and appreciation for life.
The love affair continued.
With nowhere to go and few people to see, this starter became my companion. My responsibility to nurture and feed gave me purpose. The simplicity of ingredients then fed me.
Dawn turned to dusk on repeat. Fires burned turning the sky dark purple, heavy with smoke. In capitals and hospitals and parking lots of Walmarts, conflict grew from broken arms to broken lives to broken hearts. Warm mornings turned again to cool nights as the leaves began to fall.
What the starter taught me in 2020 was to go back to simple things.
Flour. Salt. Water. Heat.
Basic combinations bring delight. Repetition became the gift to look forward to. The ingredients aren’t difficult. The magic lies in the transformation. With each crispy crust, and tearing of the loaves, we turn what was whole into more manageable bits. Whether you snack on tiny morsels or slather palm-sized chunks, the ingredients must bubble and break to become.
Brokenness is a historical constant. Sustenance too. How do we combine the truth that both will and must exist?
As a tumultuous year closes, and another uncertain one rises, I remember I am not solely responsible for the solutions to the monstrous challenges facing us. I do, however, have a role. The pain we are witnessing is often too much to bear. Too many are deprived of access to the basics.
Mixing simple ingredients into loaves of sustenance helps. Slicing space for the steam to escape remains necessary. Life is better when you can soak hunks of warm sourdough in puddles of olive oil or top with spreadable cheese.
What the Tide Brought In
by Sam Ken
Oil on 10x20 Canvas
Methods: Underpainting, Semi Impasto, Semi Impressionist Brush Strokes
Inspiration: The inspiration for my work came from visits to the beach and aquarium during my time in California. There is a peace, serenity, and constant change in underwater life, and I am always interested in capturing that in the scenic art I create. The beauty in this scene rests in the colors and the harmony of life that is depicted. It captures a unique moment in time that cannot be exactly repeated. There is a rhythm to life, and that rhythm involves change. Now more than ever, we have all accepted changes, and personal growth is a part of that. I only recently started painting full time, to see how far I can take my art. Scary at times, but who knows what the tide will bring.
Artists and Contributors
Hayley J. Boyle
Writer & Poet
Hayley is a social justice seeker, world traveler, rock climber, dog snuggler, frisbee player, and event planner. She loves to paint with watercolors, embroider, and write. She grew up on sci-fi and fantasy, and to this day she still turns to those genres to help her make sense of the world. She calls Philadelphia home, and she wouldn't have it any other way.
Lauren Kimball lives in Philadelphia. She teaches literature and composition at Rutgers University, New-Brunswick. In her spare time she plays with paint, digital pens, words, and home improvement tools.
Noah is a lifelong Philadelphian who spends his days doing data and program evaluation work for a large social service agency. In his off time, he plays Ultimate Frisbee, practices photography, skis, hikes, and camps. He currently lives in West Philly with his cat Missy and a rotation of foster cats through local animal rescue Project MEOW.
Writer & Florist
Jordyn Ruth is an event florist, event lighting consultant and human person living and baking in the suburbs of Philadelphia. They enjoy drinking too much coffee, caring for their cats and family, and sleeping in their bed.
If you like their writing, send them a tip! Venmo: @Jordyn-Ruth
Although a teacher by trade, Caroline enjoys her hobbies such as gardening, amateur mycology, and creating her black walnut pendants. This creative adventure has gone from being a stress-relieving hobby to a small business venture. Caroline takes great pleasure in the creative process and seeing how people make a connection to the hidden beauty of nature.
Writer & Poet
Katie Huey is a writer, marketer, and facilitator. She believes in the power of story and the beauty found in sharing personal experience. Her work has appeared in Invoke Magazine, Conscious Company Magazine, and Hello Humans. You can follow more of her story on her blog 52 Beautiful Things. She lives in Colorado with her husband Dylan and rambunctious puppy Olive.
If you like her writing, give her a tip.
Sam is a Marine Corps veteran, Air Force spouse, dog lover, and passionate artist. Currently living in Virginia. He loves to share his art with people, and wakes up every day inspired to create something (whether it is painting, cooking, or drawing). He hopes his art will inspire people to see the beauty around them.
If you like his art, send him a tip! Venmo: @SamKenArt
Maggie Topel is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. She designed our seasonal Wild Greens logo and social media avatar.