top of page

Stranger 6. Zachary.

I had a mouse (she writes full of naive hope). I had waited for months to catch the little mouse I saw scurry across my kitchen to be lured into one of 4 live traps I set up. I had convinced myself it was over but recently saw a tiny trace of evidence. Finally one day, of course when a friend was in town visiting, a little mousey landed in my peanut butter laid trap and was a little freaked out. Now I had to do something about it. I had read you need to release them at least 3 miles away to keep them from coming back.

Recently learning of Bertram Garden's, I did a quick google map check to see if it was far enough away. Well it was 2.7 miles away but on the other side of the river. Good enough.

But it just occurs to me, Is it 2.7 miles as the crow flies? Will the mouse find it's way back? Not that I'll know if it's the same mouse...I feel like there is a children's adventure story in the air.

Anyway, glad to have an ally to help release the little guy and since I was going to be in a new neighborhood, I figured we could drive over to release monsieur mouse, walk the gardens, and find a stranger to photograph. Three birds, one mouse.

We put the trap with the mouse in a paper bag, put him in the back of the hatch back, and drove the less than 3 miles to Bertram Gardens. Eventually the bike path will connect from the east side of the Schuykill River to the west side and down to the Gardens. But that's been dangling in the air for a few years so who knows when it will be done. There is a good amount of parking it seems and we easily got a spot in the circle. We grabbed the mouse and walked a short while where we saw a shipping container. Imagining he would be better protected near another structure rather than just a field, we released him there and shrieked the appropriate amount as he ran into the field.

Job one, done.

As it was the middle of the day on a Friday, not many people were out, so we walked along the path toward the Schuykill River and down a bit before heading back the other way toward the building we saw before. The visitor's center looked like a barn had been upgraded with large modern glass windows and doors. Took a mental note to go back there before we left.

As we headed back we kept one eye out for someone to interview and photograph.

One person finally was approaching us. Before I could ask, Zachary says, "hey I'm out here doing a survey do you have 15 minutes to chat with me?" Laughing, I agreed and asked if he would have 15 minutes to chat with me for the project?

We interviewed him first (see below) and grabbed some photos before and after.

His survey was a series of multiple choice questions about our experience with Bertram Gardens, how we would improve it, if we knew about the different programs they offer, and why we were there, for example.

Surprisingly, releasing a mouse wasn't on the list. But I did learn that you can borrow fishing poles and go kayaking for free.

The visitors center sells plants and has lots of other cute gifts and nature focussed items. It's a beautiful place that I would go back to again whether my naive hope is warranted or not. Fingers crossed.

After writing out this interview (below), I noticed Zachary's responses felt familiar to some of the other responses. Answers which are coming from different perspectives but still somehow show we are connected by what inspires us. It's great to let the project unfold and emerge within loose parameters.

I am noticing more about myself and my process and what works for me and doesn't. This blog is part of my process to create new work and explore and experience my world.

Curious if anyone else is seeing any patterns or themes weaving thru the answers of the first 6 strangers I've interviewed in Philly?

If you have any suggestions on neighborhoods I should check out to meet my next stranger, please drop a comment at the bottom.

Some Stats:

Name: Zachary Krall

Age: 31

Photographed in: Kingsessings / Bertram Gardens

Lives in: Northern Liberties / Ludlow

Occupation: Email Marketing Specialist (I had some friends who needed help with surveys about Bertram Gardens)

Some Questions.

1. It could be said that life is one big improvisation. Where in your life have you had to improvise?

Zachary: I would say I improvise in pretty much every aspect of my life.

Kat: Can you give me an example, from today for example.

Z: Well this interview is improvised. Any job interview I've ever done

I've kind of just improvised. I don't really like to prepare. Even throughout College, I've kind of gone off the cuff and gone off feelings versus over preparing

or overthinking.

I think every aspect of life is kind of improvising, especially if you're moving to a new city. When I think back --you know I grew up in Central PA and now I

came to the city in like 2011, so this is kind of a long time ago, but yeah I just kind of had to adapt. I didn't like take any classes on what to expect or anything I just kind of you know had to engage in my environment around me and just kind of adapt to that. Pretty much life in general is just about improving and adapting to change and for the better of course.

2. What is your hidden talent?

Z: I think for a 31 year old I'm pretty good at like gaming. I'm a pretty big video game guy. Amongst my friends I'm usually one of the better people. I can pick up mostly any video game and you know be the best amongst my peers. Other than that, I think I'm secretively pretty creative uh even though I probably don't look it.

K: What's the creative outlet?

Z: I do photography every now and again but I've never gotten too serious

into it it's just kind of like phone photography. Other than that, I guess maybe identifying good up-and-coming artists and bands and just kind of you know guaging what the next new sound popularity is.

K: My next question is naturally what are the two artists that you love right now? two artists

Z: Right now the main artist who I've probably loved since I've first discovered him in college is Ty Segal. He's out of California, West Coast Surfer Garage Rock stuff. Second maybe like Alex G since he's local musician.

K: Where do you go see live music in Philly?

Z: Tonight I'm actually going to Underground Arts to see a Detroit garage rock band called The Gory's. I have to swing by there and see if there are tickets still available. But I go to Underground Arts, Union Transfer, there used to be an old venue called Everybody Hits, which was my favorite and was in batting cages, Johnny Brenda's is also a good one. There's so many good venues. Philamoka is a good spot for stuff. Can't throw a stick without hitting a good music venue around here.

3. What inspires you today?

Z: I guess nature just inspires me and this beautiful weather. I mean as soon as I step foot outside I kind of just want to stay outside all day and get out of the house. and that's what inspires me honestly. Just being able to walk outside and not be too hot or too cold. So this weather right now, just inspires me to do anything.

4. How do you feel about being photographed and why?

Z: I don't mind it. I've been on the other end of the camera too, so you know I'm open to being photographed. I appreciate the art form and definitely love helping out anyone for getting shots taken.

5. What piece of advice have you heard that you use or think about most often?

Z: I mean the cliche one everyone always says is "just be yourself." That's all I know how to do is be myself. I don't really know how to talk how people want you to talk. I just kind of talk how I like to talk. Maybe I'm a narcissist but that's

what I live by. But yeah, just always be yourself and you know you'll kind of find the people you will connect with organically and you'll naturally weed people out that don't connect with you.

6. What is something you believe but cannot prove?

Z: Something I kind of believe is that we are all connected in some sort of way. I don't know how we are connected but I feel like every humans is kind of in some energy level or a spiritual level, even though I'm not a huge spiritual guy, so I guess more on an energetic level. But I believe we are all connected on some sort of way, whether it's some kind of higher up brain collective. That is something I absolutely can not prove and can't go too much in depth about, but it's a feeling I have that somehow we are all connected in some sort of way.

Link to location Bertram Gardens

Links to Music venues: Underground Arts, Union Transfer, Everybody Hits (permanently closed), Johnny Brenda's, PhilaMOCA

Artists: Ty Segal, Alex G

Recent Posts

See All



bottom of page