Remembering Oliver Sacks and His Love of Horsetails on the High Line

We find ourselves thinking about Oliver Sacks often since his passing on August 30. The British neurologist and author moved to New York in 1965, and spent more than half his life in our eclectic city; often writing about it from his refined, almost magical perspective.

As we reflect on his gifts to science, his elegant way with words, his bold and unique approach to living, and his love of New York, we are proud to be able to share this special piece he wrote about horsetails and a memorable walk on the High Line for The New Yorker in August, 2011.

When asked why he liked horsetails so much, he explained:

"I think it is a combination of their simplicity, their antiquity, and their mathematical elegance. I like the way they are filled with silica—their popular name is 'scouring rush,' and I have a bottle of Heavenly Horsetail All-Purpose Cleaner by the sink. Silicon is not too common an element in living creatures. I like their shape, their jointedness, like tiny bamboos. Of course, horsetails are nothing like bamboo in other ways. Bamboos are flowering grasses, only sixty million years old, whereas horsetails and their relatives go back to a time long before flowering plants arose."

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