Wednesday, May 27, 2009

it's a cherry

The tree with the puffy white flowers (featured in the blog of 4/5) is definitely a cherry.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

the shapes of the states

As a geographer I couldn't help noticing the new book How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein at a local public library. It's full of great stuff... Who remembers that New Netherlands was bound by the Connecticut River on the east and the Delaware River on the west, but included Delaware? By extension, Vermont was a part of New York state, and Protestant Delaware refused to be annexed by Maryland. Instead it was annexed by Pennsylvania so that the latter could secure access to the sea. In a similar land grab, Nevada was extended to the Colorado River, pissing off Arizonans. And who recalls that Massachussetts, Connecticut, and Georgia all extended to the Pacific Ocean? This is a fun book, highly recommended. (image from Wikimedia Commons)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sooty Shearwaters

I was driving around listening to a local radio station that made passing reference to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds being inspired by a local event. I'd never heard of such a thing and was intrigued. I knew the film was shot in Bodega Bay, just north of San Francisco; what I didn't know, what took me my entire life to learn, was that Alfred Hitchcock's primary residence as of 1940 was Scotts Valley, a little town up in the Santa Cruz mountains. This explains why some of his films were shot in Northern CA. Apparently in 1961 flocks of sickened Sooty Shearwaters carpeted the seaside town of Capitola, crashing kamikaze style into anything that got in their way. Hitchcock read about this bizarre event and weaved it into his 1963 film. (image from Wikimedia Commons)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

what is a nature preserve...

...but a piece of the landscape that someone has put a frame around and named?

This I thought as I wandered around the Kaweah Oaks Preserve, a wonderfully sleepy piece of land on the road to Sequoia National Park. So if you're not in the mood to drive up the highest mountains in the lower 48 states and see the largest trees on earth, you can always take a stroll around these fields and densely foliated thickets that remind me of east coast nature preserves. There's a common thread -- lots of low key life forms (birds, bugs and botany), including maybe ticks, but also lots of soul. (photo of somewhere else because my batteries died)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Central Valley Outings

I had the idea that Porterville, CA would be more charming than Hanford, CA. The reverse seems to be true. I stopped in Hanford in search of a Home Depot and stumbled upon this fabulous courthouse square with lovingly restored architecture... I tried to photograph the courthouse but the batteries in my camera died. Later, when Porterville failed to enchant me but nevertheless had a decent Thai restaurant, I drove up to Lake Success and chomped on Pad Thai in the setting sun.

Friday, May 01, 2009

when the U.S. sneezes...

...Mexico catches a cold. I think that's how the expression goes.