Tuesday, March 14, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #100

Paul and Georgean Kyle at the Driftwood Wildlife Association keep very close track of Chimney Swift comings and goings, and are soliciting info from folks about the first swifts of the season across the country. They note that the first individuals have already been spotted on the coast. You can email them here, and check out the progress here.

Dr. David Taylor, a University of North Texas Honor College Professor, and a contributor to our Texas Nature Writers Blog, has just published an anthology of Texas writers: Pride of Place: A Contemporary Anthology of Texas Nature Writing.

Here's an excerpt from the introduction (courtesy of Dr. Taylor and University of North Texas Press):

What’s stirred me to bring this writing together isn’t nostalgia or anti-development sentiments, though I hold both of those. Instead, it is that wonder I’d slip into as a child about the vast spaces of Texas landscapes as we traveled. The family vehicle was a 1967 Chevrolet pickup; after 100 miles or so, Mom and Dad would tire of listening to the three kids and banish us to the bed of the truck. My use of the word “bed” is literal, as dad had placed a mattress in the back with a camper top shielding us from the elements, excepting heat of course. Much of the time we vied for a breeze, placing our faces near the two slatted windows; I being the youngest waited on the largesse of my two older siblings to offer access to a window—that and if I got sick or whined too much they knew there’d be hell to pay when Dad stopped the truck. But in those times when we’d pass a few hundred miles at a time without too much discomfort, I could slip into a reverie about what was passing by—pines, swamps, bays, lakes, rivers, coast, oaks, bluebonnets, longhorns, mesquite, prairie, hills, prickly pear, mule ear, cholla, an ochre sunset on the Davis Mountains. Watching them was hypnotic, but these trances were interrupted by a coyote sighting, the searing color of wild-flower fields, antelope out west, or a whooping crane down by the coast. I knew there was something important in allowing myself to silently take all these things in, and as I have grown older, I see myself finding times to be that boy taking in not just scenery but place. It is that reverie that brought me to love these places, to worry for them, and to write and work for them as well.

Woman: So what book does she want?
Chick: She says Julius Caesar.
Woman: What's that? Is that the title or the name of the author? Call her and ask her. I can't find it.
From Overheard in New York.

Have been discussing food and anachronisms with like-minded folks. My own interest in this regard involves "traditional" foods and how they became "traditional" and native plant foods of the Americas.

And thus these foodstuffs tightly allied to their country of origin, but made with ingredients of Western Hemisphere origin that could not have entered the old world until the 17th century:

Pizza (Italy/China) could not have had tomatoes.
Baklava (Greece) could not have had pecans.
Chocolate (Switzerland/Italy) is South American.
And the Irish didn't have potatoes, or famine, until they got shipped from the New World.
And while the rest of the world didn't know the joy of turkey (and still don't use it all that much), we of course didn't have chicken, pork, mutton, goat or beef.

And, of course, you have corn, avocados, tomatillos, squash, and tobacco, etc. which were unknown overseas.

And why, quite off the subject and inspired by something in the air around here now, do we bless sneezers but not coughers?

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