I am in the middle of a romance with geography.
If the arctic is a desert can I call a valley in the arctic a wadi? Probably not but wadi is one of my new favorite words. Do you read the Amelia Peabody mysteries? They are old favorites of mine. I read them sparingly because I don’t want them to end. if you are of the audio book persuasion i highly recommend them, a performance bar none I was first introduced to the word wadi there and love to roll the word around in my mouth but find little use for it in my everyday and if I want to use word wadi in the piece I am working on I will have to invent an ancient Arabic visitor to the arctic. Might be a puzzler, that.
We have for the most part successfully paved and demolished most of our geographical landmarks, weighing them down with lights and foot traffic. In neighborhoods with feats of natural beauty the landmarks are reduced to crude background scribblings for strip mall signs. Our maps are grids and our children know how to get around by rights and lefts.
I am a whimsical pain in the arse, I know, but there are days I want us to roam and wander, see this heavily populated land we are sitting on as it is.
Last month my eldest studied European geography. We spent a great deal of time and took many detours in the explanation of political versus topographical maps. There are sheep maps and bird maps, human migration maps and food maps. Maps help us understand our world, where we went and where we are going. But maps can also reduce our world to straight lines and time. I want it to be a great big world not a grid drawn with a straight edge.
five favorite words