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Articles by Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan is Grist's "Greenie Pig" -- weathering all manner of inconvenience and insult in the name of forging a more eco-friendly life. She is a freelance writer and special projects editor at Backpacker magazine. Her writing has also appeared in 5280 (Denver's city magazine), Women's Adventure, and Spry.

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Inspiration may strike anywhere, but gardens seem to host a disproportionate number of epiphanies, don’t you think? Put Newton under an apple tree and bam, gravity. George de Mestral dreamed up Velcro after coming home from a nature stroll covered in burrs. And then there’s me in my backyard, picking through a patch of lemon verbena.

“Whatcha looking for?” my neighbor Adrian, who happened to be in the backyard at the time, asked.

“Dill,” I said. We needed the stuff for a new salad recipe, and I’d come out to check our yard’s communal herb patch. (Nobody knows who planted them, so they’re considered up for grabs.) Unfortunately, I was coming up empty.

“Oh, we’ve got some dill. Lemme see if it’s still good,” he said, disappearing into his kitchen and reemerging with one of those flat plastic herb cases.

“You sure?” I asked. “You don’t need it?”

“Nah, we used it for a recipe a few days ago. It’s kind of old, but” — he gave the fronds an investigative sniff — “I think they’re OK.” About half of the dill sprigs looked a little lackluster, true, a little yellow, bu... Read more

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