During the early 20th century, the Montreal melon was a culinary delicacy and an agricultural moneymaker. But as industrial farming took hold, the hard-to-grow fruit went the way of the dodo bird. What one farmer’s attempt to revive it says about taste and technology.
Imagine a picture of a jungle. There are the familiar palms and vines, and down in a corner a monkey sitting on a branch. Ask a number of people, “What is this a picture of?” and it’s a good bet that most will say it shows a monkey.
But someone like the British naturalist Richard Mabey could probably point out three or four tree species, a few kinds of vines, a variety of ferns and an orchid tucked in the crook of a branch. What’s more, Mr. Mabey, skilled at entwining human and plant history, would tell the story of one of the heroes of his book, Margaret Mee, the 20th-century botanical artist who sailed up the Rio Negro in Brazil to sketch the annual one-night blooming of the moonflower, a rootless climbing cactus.
At primary school, I rarely played with other children. For me, playtime usually meant a walk around the edges of the playground, observing others and thinking to myself.
There were lots of reasons why I found it difficult to connect with my childhood peers, none of them particularly interesting or unusual, but I do sometimes wonder whether my early experiences have defined my temperament; I’ve never been much of a joiner, and I find many people frankly depressing.
Why was I putting myself through this again? It was exhausting. Maybe love was overrated. Maybe love was just what people claimed to feel for anyone who’d put up with them. I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes. I could hear the chatter of women, turning on faucets, flushing toilets. I’ll just wait here, I thought, until the mingling is over. Then I’ll go back and see if anyone has written down my ID number as someone they’d like to date.
I returned to the meeting room, only to discover that the mingling session wasn’t quite done. Immediately the lawyer who liked opera positioned himself in front of me. He was immaculately dressed in a suit, his dark hair clipped short, his brown eyes penetrating. Meanwhile, I could have played the part of the stablehand who groomed his horse.
Medium has a lot to gain in Washington. Establishing itself as the place where national leaders go to talk to one another helps the company, which has struggled a bit to decide what it wants to be, carve out a place in the online ecosystem. And it can piggyback off a broader shift in the relationship between Washington and journalism, with the political world no longer quite so dependent on the press in the age of social media.