April 2012 Issue
April 2012 Digest
The science of race at COSI; Ohio's connection to kites; mushroom hunting in the Hocking Hills.
Turns out there’s something right atop the old noggin that can help
visitors tackle the key question posed in “Race: Are We So Different?”
on view at COSI in Columbus through May 6.
Our brains, yes. But also our hair.
The Hair Cart is COSI’s contribution to this national touring exhibition
that examines race through the lenses of science, culture and history.
While much of
“Race” is contemplative, COSI is famously hands-on. Visitors are
accustomed to touching, feeling and making things happen, says Steve
Whitt, manager of experience programs at COSI.
That’s why passersby are invited to see their hair enlarged on a screen
alongside the tresses of others. The exercise demonstrates the fact that
wavy, curly or straight hair is simply the product of follicles that
mirror those shapes. Human variation is real, Whitt says, but does not
follow traditional racial lines.
That’s the message of “Race.” While it documents humankind’s
uncomfortable past on this subject — from slavery to Jim Crow to flawed
biological assumptions — the exhibition ultimately demonstrates that we
are all just shades of one another.
The hopeful thing about science, explains Whitt, is its ability to
self-correct. Today’s DNA research disproves the old theory that modern
humans evolved differently on separate continents. New evidence shows we
arose in the same place — Africa — and fanned out from there.
“So in that sense, all humans alive today are Africans,” Whitt reflects.
“That tells a very different story than the traditional one we’ve been
told about race.” — John Gladden
For more information about the exhibition, call 614/228-2674 or visit cosi.org.
Foraging for Fungus
If you’re literally looking for an activity that’s off the beaten path, then it’s time to head to the Hocking Hills to hunt the elusive morel mushroom. Their preferred location — moist areas around rotting vegetation — means that they won’t likely be found along a marked hiking trail.
Luckily, the Ohio Mushroom Society (ohiomushroom.org) hosts guided hikes throughout the season, which runs from March through early May. Morels, sometimes called sponge mushrooms because of their honeycombed-patterned head, often sell for upwards of $25 an ounce. Which is why some mushroom hunters won’t share their secrets for success.
For many, seeking morels is also about preserving family tradition.
That’s how it started for Terry Lingo, owner of the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls in Logan with his wife, Ellen Grinsfelder. “I’ve been hunting them my whole life,” he says. As a child, Lingo’s parents took him on hikes to find the elusive fungus as soon as weather permitted. Later, he pulled his own children out of school on prime hunting days.
It’s best, Lingo advises, to go hunting when the ground is still damp after a rainy day. Search around the bases of trees (sycamores and elms are among the best) and along streams. According to Lingo, an abandoned apple orchard is usually a gold mine.
Patience is key: Even if weather conditions are just right, hunters — especially novice ones — often come up empty-handed.
So what do you do if you happen upon some? “Growing up, we fried a lot of stuff,” says Lingo. He recommends dipping the mushrooms in beaten eggs and then dredging them in plain breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs before frying.
Extra mushrooms can be frozen for sautés and sauces.
And when you hunt morels, show respect for the land: Walk delicately, pick wisely and don’t intentionally encroach on other people’s hunting grounds. — Jessica Esemplare
Nancy Lockwood was feeling pretty low after being laid off from her job. So a friend suggested she visit Cleveland’s Edgewater Park to watch members of the Ohio Society for the Elevation of Kites (OSEK) fly their craft over Lake Erie.
“To see a sky full of wonders,” recalls the Streetsboro resident about that afternoon 30 years ago, “was uplifting.” So much so that Lockwood is now the corresponding secretary for OSEK. Founded in 1977, the group, comprising 50 members ages 17 to 79, has made it a mission to promote the hobby that’s become a sure sign of spring. (A talented seamstress, Lockwood is also hooked on making her own kites, which she’s done since 1985.)
Her favorite: The Delta Conyne, a cross between a box kite and delta kite that, Lockwood explains, “flies in almost any kind of wind.” The enthusiast adds that the sport is not without mishap: Lockwood lost one of her favorite models over northeast Ohio’s Rocky River Gorge because of a frayed kite string. It happens. In fact, she adds, an OSEK member purposely releases an inexpensive plastic kite over Lake Erie whenever the club flies from the shore “to feed the gods of the lake so they won’t steal the good kites.”
Ohio’s connection to kites dates back to the early 1950s when Dayton resident William Allison designed the first sled kite, one of the easiest to fly. Another Ohioan, Frank Scott, added vents to it. The sled kite is only the seventh original kite form that’s been invented, ever since they were first made 2,000 years ago in China and Indonesia.
Lockwood has seen firsthand how soaring, colorful kites bring people together. The weekend after 9/11, 2,000 folks gathered to watch club members fly kites “to begin the healing,” she recalls.
“People who never met before hugged and held hands,” Lockwood marvels.
To celebrate Earth Day, OSEK members will conduct a workshop for the Medina County Park District on April 21. The group also flies kites at Edgewater Park on the second Sunday of the month, good weather permitting. — Jill Sell
For more information, visit osekcleveland.org.