Sunday, September 30, 2012

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

From all over the world come teams to take part in Quebec's Winter Carnival, a mid-winter celebration that began as a "mardi gras" in an overwhelmingly Catholic province.  You can see Quebec's flag on the Parliament building in the background.  How many other flags do you recognize?  And whose face is that atop the pile?  [2005]

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Johns Island, South Carolina, USA

The Stono River is not a river at all. It is one of the many channels that separate the sea islands of South Carolina from each other and the mainland. Sunny Sundays serve the needs of nearby populations as the extensive land-and-water lattice becomes the region's best recreational resource. [2012]

Friday, September 28, 2012

Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA

This dune stabilizer is known as sea oats, but its Latin name is much more fun to say:  uniola paniculata. Its job is shared with a variety of other deep-rooted, salt-tolerant, foliage-filled plants whose task it is to hold the dune in place, baffle the wind, and protect America's elite from devastating loss during hurricane season. [2012]

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Folly Beach, South Carolina, USA

Folly Beach gained fame in 1989 when the beach (and entire oceanfront) was devastated by Hurricane Hugo. To Charlestonians, it had always been "the edge of America," but Hugo made it the poster child for coastal hazards. Then, the beach was rebuilt. Now, as fall thins out the crowds and space opens up for afternoon reverie, the barrier island is at its best. [2012]

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sharpsburg, Maryland, USA

The Battle of Antietam, one of the bloodiest of the Civil War, took place exactly 150 years ago this month. Much of the action raged along 'the sunken road,' now a time capsule where every successive generation of soldiers has come to learn the strategic arts. [1998]

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Delhi, India

You can't get fresher, hotter, better naan than on the streets of Karol Bagh in Delhi. Here you can watch it being made: from flour to finished product. See the oven? Naan is best when topped with a swoosh of butter and eaten with dal makhani, a lentil and bean potage. [2011]

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is famous for its floating market, but there are also many floating vendors well beyond the market places.  Most are in Thonburi on the western shore of the Chao Praya.  It's an area where canals serve the purposes of city streets.  [2011]

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Taipei, Taiwan

On the street outside Longshan Temple, a woman shields herself from the late-summer sun and involves herself in mid-day meditation.  You may presume that she is shedding negative energy and making room for all that is positive in life.  [2012]

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Walk Waikiki with surfboard and mat.
Find a place on the beach and take off the hat.
Plunge into the surf and find a great wave.
What they're creating are mem'ries to save.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hebron, Palestine

Modernity brings us products without process. We never see what goes into making the things we buy. What processes brought these bags of wool to the doorsteps of Hebron? What processes will transform this wool into wearables? If we knew more about these processes, we would appreciate the size of our environmental footprint. [1998]

Thursday, September 20, 2012

DeSalaberry, Manitoba, Canada

In Manitoba, all you have to do to learn geography is drive through the countryside. So many of the crops in the fields are identified by small placards like this. Winter wheat is planted in the fall, lies dormant in the winter, and is harvested in the summer. Once harvested, you can bale the straw. [2012]

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mumbai, India

You can take your clothes to the dry cleaners, or you can wait for the dhobi wallahs to come calling. They have specialized in washing, drying, and ironing clothes for centuries and are recognized as a scheduled (and disadvantaged) caste in India. Poor as he is, he is able to speak two languages. If you are a typical American, you can only speak one. [2011]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mumbai, India

What's on the roof here in Dhobi Ghats? Just bolts of cloth? Sorry, you're wrong! They're saris, the traditional robes of Indian women. A single sari can be up to 9 feet long, but it's a single piece of unstitched cloth and easily rolled up for storage. [2011]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mumbai, India

The landscape of Dhobi Ghats is awash in color as the dhobi wallahs depend on solar energy to dry the laundry. What a concept! At this scale, however, how would you keep track of all your clients' clothing and return everything to the right owners? [2011]

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mumbai, India

Think of the agitator in your washing machine at home. This is the agitator in a traditional Indian laundry.  He is a dhobi wallah, a laundry worker, and his neighborhood is built around the hundreds of vats in which Mumbai's clothes are washed. The neighborhood is called Dhobi Ghats. [2011]

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Istanbul, Turkey

That's the look of envy on this Asian feline's face.  She has heard that September is National Cat Happiness Month in the United States.  Why not here in Istanbul?  Then the feeling passes and she realizes she is happy.  She has a job to do at the New Valide mosque in Üsküdar:  ridding the place of rodents.  [2007]

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hamah, Syria

Fifteen years before the Syrian uprising threw the country into turmoil, the lads of Hamah had hardly a worry in the world.   Now, these lads are in their twenties.  They are of fighting age, but it's not likely they are fighting for the Asad regime.  They live in Hamah, a city of exceptional anti-government sentiment.  Why?  Just google 'Hamah 1982'.  [1996]

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Washington, DC, USA

The Syrian Revolution began on the ides of March (not a good omen) in 2011. Today is the ides of September in 2012. A year and a half has passed. The situation has intensified in Syria; it has boiled over into Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon; it has defied UN diplomacy. These Syrians are lucky to be on the streets of Washington and not the streets of Damascus. [2011]

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Whangarei, New Zealand

Feel sorry for the folks who follow the paved road to Whangarei Falls. They will never meet the spirits of place who join you on the trail as you approach the falls on foot. Before you can see the falling water and its companion plunge pool, you can see and feel the mist. How gently it diffuses the sunshine. [2011]

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bangkok, Thailand

In central Bangkok, not far from the waterfront, is the wholesale district, the place where stores and restaurants come to get their daily fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  Life moves fast as freshness arrives from the countryside, and the workers hustle.  [2011]

Monday, September 10, 2012

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Need a cab? All over East, Southeast, and South Asia, cycle rickshaws will take you where you want to go. In the past, the cyclist would have been a runner. In the future, the cyclist will be a motor vehicle driver, as many are now. These pedicabs provide a very green way of getting around town. [2011]

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In the foreground is Bricktown, one of the historic (now upgraded) neighborhoods of Kuala Lumpur.  In the background are the two icons of Kuala Lumpur's skyline: the Petronas Twin Towers at 1483 feet and the Kuala Lumpur Tower at 1381 feet to the top of the antenna. The former is an office building; the latter a telecommunications tower. [2011]

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Seljuk, Turkey

Mary, mother of Jesus, was immaculately conceived on December 8. Nine months later, she was born: September 8. After the crucifixion, she was looked after by John at this house near Ephesus in Asia Minor, today's Turkey. It has become a pilgrimage site where you can tie a piece of cloth to the wall and ask that your prayer be answered. [2007]

Friday, September 7, 2012

Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

A physical geographer would recognize this landscape immediately as mature karst (limestone) that has been drowned by rising sea level.  To see the Phang Nga Bay's many islands take a long-tail boat and be sure to stop at James Bond Island.  [2011]

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Douglas, Isle of Man

Yellow gorse is like the Energizer Bunny; it just keeps going, and going, and going. In California, it is known as an invasive species, but in the Isles, it has specific jobs to do. It paints the hillside with sunshine at mid-summer; it establishes hedgerows as icons of the rural countryside; and it gives birds the promise of home ownership. [2011]

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Butterfly gardens are being created as popular city green spaces everywhere.  It's like a two-for-one investment in color:  flower petals and butterfly wings.  If the two could breed, their offspring would be flying flowers.  [2012]

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Taipei, Taiwan

At the Sun Yat-sen Memorial in Taipei, lots of empty space just begs for use.  The Taiwanese are happy to comply by turning one of the courtyards into a place to practice t'ai chi, in this case solo.  Although t'ai chi is a martial art, it is widely practiced today for its physical and mental conditioning.  [2012]

Monday, September 3, 2012

Berryville, Virginia, USA

When the railroad came through in the 1870s, it brought new prosperity to Berryville, already one of the cardinal places of the northern Shenandoah Valley. Whether, the category "cardinal places" still applies to Berryville is called into question by contemporary railside landscapes. The center of gravity has shifted just a bit westward to Winchester on I-81. [2006]

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Courtland, Kansas, USA

Family cemeteries are common in Kansas and other parts of the Great Plains. It seems appropriate, doesn't it? Laying people to rest under the sod they spent a lifetime busting. And, far from any neighbors. [2009]

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Milford, Connecticut, USA

Church-building is place-making. In New England, the church builders were the Congregationalists, rejectors of the hierarchy that was the Church of England. Nevertheless, they made New England into a place that mimicked Old England. First Congregational in Milford could almost be London's St. Martin's in the Fields. [2008]