asakiyume: (man on wire)
In the supermarket the other day, a mom scolded her baby, who was sitting in the little seat at the front of the shopping cart, when the baby leaned down and started chewing on the cart handle. "Don't do that! You don't know where that's been!" the mom exclaimed.

AND HOW RIGHT SHE IS! Just **think** of the adventures shopping carts get up to!

The cart you are sitting in right now, baby, may recently have been sunning itself on the beach...


Or it may have been tangling with rival gangs in shadowed alleys... (though your shopping cart seemed more hale and hearty than this one)


It may have been for a refreshing swim...

(source, an old LJ friend's journal)

Or perhaps spent time communing with the mountains...

Abandoned Shopping Cart At The Banff Railway Station

(click through for source, Flickr user "Malcolm").

Baby, if we were to give you a blessing, it might be to travel as widely as a shopping cart.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I'm under the gun with work right now, but I have an adventure to look forward to: Wakanomori and I enjoyed the landscapes of La Niña and Lady: La Vendedora de Rosas so much that were traveling to Colombia on May 23, returning very late on June 2. Oh boy! Time to test out two-years-and-a-bit of Duolingo Spanish! But hey, when I very-first traveled to Japan, that's about how much Japanese I had, and I had considerably less Tetun when I went to East Timor. Anyway, I have an ice breaker, a question to ply people with: "Cuentame una historia de este lugar."

"Yeah," said a friend of mine, "but will you understand the response?" Good question. Maybe in bits and pieces? Fragments? Especially if they speak.... wait for it.... DES... PA.... CITO!

Sorry, sorry. The truth is, I really love that song. Me and several billon other people--currently 5.1 BILLION VIEWS on Youtube. Woo!

Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee are Puerto Rican. Have a different song that I also love, by a Colombian singer, Kiño, assisted by Jennifer Arenas and Elmece. It's "Sueños cumplidos," and it was the music that played at happy moments in Lady: La Vendedora de Rosas**

ETA--All of which to say, I will likely not be reading or posting much, if at all, during the days of the trip.

In unrelated news, but noteworthy for anyone who reads this on LJ: my paid account will expire while we're gone. I'm letting it lapse: I pay for the account over at DW, and I've decided not to pay both places. This means if you're reading at LJ, you will start to be assaulted by all manner of ads. There'll always be a link at the bottom of the entry to the original post on Dreamwidth, so you're welcome to come read here if you prefer an ad-free experience.

**Incidentally, I'm reading the story of her life (v...e...r...y slowly, which great help from a dictionary app), upon which the telenovela was based, and dang, but a lot of the things featured in the telenovela actually did happen.
asakiyume: (birds to watch over you)
We didn't set out with any plan do anything like a boat tour, and when we saw a brochure in a visitors' center somewhere, featuring a puffin wearing a captain's hat and a promise of seeing puffins, we thought it would be fun, but still it wasn't something we were actually planning on doing.

conversation, legends, and bird information under the cut )

My attempts at photographing puffins, razorsbills, bald eagles, black guillmonts ("white wing patches, and sexy red legs" was how Ian taught us to recognize them), and cormorants hanging their wings to drain and dry were hopeless, so I'll post a couple of the Van Schaiks' own photos:



... and share my sketch of some seals instead. The scribbled note says "Mark said, when I said that they have dog faces, that his dad said the males have dog faces and the females have horse faces."

1 I can't find any corroboration for this legend elsewhere, and I may have mangled it--but anyway, it makes a good story. (The closest thing I find is the remarks of John MacGregor, published in 1828, remarking about fishermen on the other side of Cape Breton, that they
are Acadian French, who live by pursuing cod, herring, and seal fisheries, together with wrecking; at which last occupation, in consequence of the frequent shipwrecks about the entrance of the Gulf during the spring and fall, for several years, they are as expert as the Bermudians, or the people of the Bahamas.
asakiyume: (man on wire)
Two posts in one day? Why not!

Wakanomori took me to Holyoke's secret stream, which runs beneath Interstate 91. There's a park there, but these boys preferred the actual stream (so did a chipmunk and an oriole I saw).

Holyoke's secret stream

kids playing in the secret stream

At one end of the present-day park is a closed roadway that leads up into an overgrown, abandoned park. If you climb up and up, you reach this tower that looks like it took its design cues from rude graffiti:

phallic tower

You can climb up a literally falling-apart concrete spiral staircase on the inside of the, uh, shaft, and up top there is a glorious view of the surrounding countryside. Which I didn't take a picture of! I was too busy recovering from the hair-raising ascent. Fortunately, Wakanomori took a picture. He also obliged me by taking pictures of the words of wisdom inscribed there, and of some of the community-created artwork at the base of the tower.

View of Mt. Tom in nearby Easthampton

Mt Tom (Wakanomori's photo)


wisdom (wakanomori's photo)


artwork (wakanomori's shot)
asakiyume: (far horizon)
While we waited on the Bay of Fundy for a ferry to take us to Nova Scotia, we walked around on a little patch of shore. There were lots of sea-smoothened pieces of shale there, perfect for skipping on the waves, or for decorating a piece of driftwood.

shale (and coal) on driftwood

You see the slightly sparkly stone, four from the right end? I have another piece like that. That's not shale. We thought it might be coal, but couldn't be sure.**

Later, we were staying in an old house in the coastal town of Port Hood. The house looked, from the exterior, like it ought to be haunted. We found out it had been built by someone who had made money in coal mining. Among the setbacks (disasters, more like) were that the mines sometimes flooded. Gradually, we realized that the mines had been . . . under the sea. As Wakanomori said: they would have found coal seams in the cliffs and then... worked their way down to under-the-water.

I mean, coal mining is always scary work, but PUTTING IT UNDER THE OCEAN makes it considerably more scary. As the housekeeper at the (potentially) haunted house put it, "I don't know how hungry I'd have to be to go down into that."

A cliff (not at the same place... but representative)

Cliff, St. Croix Cove

Then at one of the northernmost inhabited points on Cape Breton, we went on a little boat out to see puffins (and did see them! I hope I can do a whole post about that trip) and other pelagic birds, and the young captain (third-generation of tour-boat operators) was telling us more about erstwhile undersea mines, and meanwhile there were seals out on the rocks, watching us.... and swimming in the water and regarding us with just their heads peeking out...

More seals at Bird Island, Big Bras d'Or

... and now I think, there is a story out there about the dangers of the mines, and flooded mines, and selkies, and when I have it worked out, I'll share it with you.

**The day after the puffin tour, we found ourselves a town called Sydney Mines, a much-boarded-up town that no longer has any mines, but that does have a fossil museum and a room given over to artifacts from the mining days. There was some coal on display, and I was able to confirm that yes, the item I'd picked up on Nova Scotia's southern coast was indeed coal. Maybe if I sleep with it under my pillow, that selkie mining story will come to me faster.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
On Saturday morning, we're heading out to Nova Scotia. We will have very limited Internet, so I will be scarce--but I'll see you all in July. In the words of my roommate, sophomore year of college, hang loose and stay real.
asakiyume: (holy carp)

Behold the powerful falls at the Holyoke dam. Holyoke Gas and Electric generates power here.

This dam is a barrier to fish that need to get upstream to spawn. There have been various means of solving this problem, but at present it's a literal elevator, a huge mechanism powered by giant turbines and with great chains that lift boxes of water, packed with fish, up above the falls. Yesterday Wakanomori and I went to see it--a marvelous experience!

It has very cute signposts:
Enter Fishway

In the informational room, there's a diagram that shows how the elevator works. You can see the giant turbines:

How the elevator works

And a tally of how many fish have been lifted: yesterday was a record for American shad. (In the colonial days, they used to say that when the shad were running, you could walk across the Connecticut river on their backs.)

Fish elevator totals

photos and videos of fish, people watching fish, people fishing, and massive machinery )

asakiyume: (birds to watch over you)

My this-week's message-in-a-bottle story took me to some interesting places--first, to the story of the STS Sedov, a famous sailing ship.
STS Sedov, image from Wikimedia Commons

the story of the STS Sedov )

Her 90th anniversary was in 2011, and in 2012 she began a voyage around the world--and it was on that voyage that three sailors (Dutch, Finnish, and Russian) tossed a message in a bottle from the ship when it reached Cape Horn, at the extremity of South America. That message then traveled 17,000 kilometers on circumpolar currents and arrived at Macquarie Island, a chilly place between Tasmania and Antarctica, where it was retrieved by wildlife rangers, cleaning rubbish. Here is the story from Australian news.

Circumpolar currents--the red arrow is Cape Horn; the blue arrow is (more or less) Macquarie Island. The message traveled east

Macquarie Island
Source: ECOS Magazine

asakiyume: (man on wire)


Are we not golden? Are we not heroes? Then pry loose this foolish grill and let us see what awaits us in the depths!

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
I went out to get some coriander seeds from the garden, only the sky was doing this:

sunset clouds

and this

sunset clouds

It was very exciting.

Another thing that was exciting was yesterday, at the airport. I had to pick up [ profile] wakanomori but there were some problems. Customs and immigration were in a bad mood because there was a huge backlog and pileup of people because of a bunch of planes being rerouted because of thunderstorms, and so they were detaining bunches of people, including him! He got off one text message to me that said, "In customs limbo. It may be a LONG time," but then they said they'd confiscate people's phones if people used them.

"Like school," remarked the healing angel when we were all back together again at midnight, three hours after people first disembarked from the plane Waka was on.

Admittedly, even without detention, it was taking forever for people to make it through. International arrivals was full of folks waiting for loved ones. Here are some impressionistic cell-phone photos.

waiting with flowers

standing on a chair for a better view

One family who waited nearly as long as we did asked the healing angel to take a picture of them when they were reunited:

We ended up walking through most of the airport terminals on our way out, and so we saw all the metal cots that the airport had set up for people who were stranded there--it looked like an evacuation center. We talked to one mother, traveling with two small children, who was given just one cot. There's no plane for her for two days, and no hotel rooms open near the airport, and she doesn't know anyone in the city. A friend is driving up tomorrow from New Jersey to rescue her, she said.

We were happy to be able to sleep in our own beds, even if we didn't make it home until 2 am.

asakiyume: (cloud snow)
The Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, New York (a town celebrated by They Might Be Giants in a song--can your town say as much? Mine cannot--but more about Canajoharie later) has been assiduously advertising its exhibit of art from James Gurney's Dinotopia since October. Yesterday the ninja girl, the healing angel, and I went to see it.

Do you know Dinotopia? James Gurney imagined an island populated by sentient dinosaurs and humans, living together. Gurney's worldbuilding is fabulous, and his art is amazing--very much like N.C. Wyeth or Howard Pyle. Here are some examples from the Dinotopia website that we actually got to see:

flying on a skybax

Waterfall City in the Mist

Desert Crossing

One very intriguing artifact was an early sketch of the island that would become Dinotopia. In pencil, he has it labeled Panmundia, and then under that, a series of other possible titles, including Sauropolis, Saurotopia, and Dinotolia, and at the bottom, Dinotopia, with three underlines and a star beside it. Yep, that's the one!

Read more... )

asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
I've lived in the United States, England, and Japan--all countries that are well-off. I've never lived in, or even visited, a so-called developing country before. There are lots of different narratives about developing countries; what stories get told depend on the purposes of the teller--unsurprisingly. The hard facts of life in Timor-Leste didn't escape me--not just (just!) the trauma of recent conflict, but also the high infant mortality and food insecurity. But there was so much that I saw that was cheerful, vigorous, optimistic.

Twice a day there was a rush hour in Ainaro--foot-traffic rush hour, as kids streamed in to school. They were smiling, chatting with friends, looking sharp in their uniforms. Many of the teachers are unpaid local volunteers--now, you could see this as a problem (unqualified teachers), and yes, it would be good to have teachers who've been trained as teachers, but on the other hand, what dedication and sense of service that represents! And it seems to me quite likely that some of those volunteers are very good teachers.

Most people in Timor-Leste are subsistence farmers, but in Ainaro I also saw a carpenter's shop...

They're making a cabinet (frame on the left). The day before, they were making a bed frame.

carpenter's shop

... and next door to where I was staying was an auto repair shop, and up the street was a van out of which Timor Telecom operated--the women there are fluent in English and got me set up with enough pulsa that I could phone home.

And some women earn money weaving tais, traditional textiles whose patterns vary depending on the region. This woman told me she could weave my name into the one she was making (but I was leaving too soon).

a tais weaver

There was also the bakery, a couple of restaurants, and several copy and photo shops (these were popular with kids)--and these are just the things I happened to notice.

Here are some shops selling clothes

shops in Ainaro, Timor-Leste

Everything's just very labor-intensive, though. People were cutting the lawn across from the classroom with hand sickles, for instance.

As for play, I saw girls doing what we called Chinese jump rope when I was a kid, and everywhere little kids, boys and girls both, rolling tires with sticks:

playing with a tire and stick playing with a tire and stick

There are stone-lined water-runoff ditches along the roads, and I saw children playing in these too. One boy had a big palm stem that he was driving like a truck, making truck noises, along the edge of the gutter.

There's a football (soccer) pitch in the center of town, and in the late afternoon, I saw older boys and men playing on it. There's also a pool hall, and every evening someone's having a party--all the students talked about them. Several of the guys played the guitar, and several of the girls sing, and everyone seems to like dancing, including the newly ordained priest. Cockfighting is also popular--it goes on at the Saturday market (I saw the crowds gathered round, but didn't actually get up close to see the fight.)

Overall, people seem hopeful; they have plans, they're doing things. That's my narrative, anyway :-)

asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
As in much of the world, water access is an issue in Timor-Leste. The town I was in, Ainaro, has a piped water supply, but it’s often not working. About half the time I was there, there was no running water. At the house where I stayed, the volunteers keep four large trash bins filled with water, so that when the water is off, they don’t need to go out to fetch it. Most people fetch it, though.

This water’s not for drinking without boiling or otherwise purifying. 1.5-liter bottles of drinking water sell for 50 cents. I’m not sure, though, whether the local people really rely on the bottled water and on sterilizing the town water, or whether they drink it straight.

During one of the lessons, students were making sentences using the conditional “could.” One student’s sentence was, “I couldn’t do the laundry because there was no water.”

Sometimes, though, people go down to the river to do the washing.

washing clothes


At the house where I stayed, we cooked using propane that is shipped up from Dili—on the bus I rode. Most people, however, gather firewood from the forest and cook with that. There was a contingent from the national army stationed next door to where our classroom was; they cooked over an open fire in the building behind us.

some photos under here )

Rice is the staple, often eaten with water spinach or mustard greens. Ainaro also has two bakers who travel all through the town pushing wooden wheelbarrows filled with personal-sized (roll-sized) loaves of bread. Each one costs five cents. One of my acquaintances said his mother would give him a loaf like that in the morning, plus five cents to take to school to pay for the school lunch.

The buildings in the background are where one of the town's bakers bakes her bread
by the bakery

how to eat avocados in Timor-Leste )


Who was it who told me about snacking on raw packages of ramen noodles? Maybe it was Little Springtime’s boyfriend. Anyway, the kids in Ainaro like to do that. One boy gave me some to try. Kopiko--Indonesian coffee-flavored candies--and mint candies are also popular.


I saw coffee growing all over—it’s a great crop because you can grow it on steep hillsides. Here’s some coffee drying.

coffee drying

And this is the shop it was drying in front of.

the shop where the coffee was drying

(The sign is saying that you can buy minutes for your phone there.)

These are the students outside the shop who let me take their picture. Kids only go to school for half a day in Timor-Leste, either in the morning or the afternoon. I think this is because there are many many children and not many school buildings or teachers.


A bus ride

Aug. 19th, 2013 12:02 am
asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
The day after I arrived in Timor-Leste, I made the six-hour journey up to the mountain town of Ainaro. I rode on some vehicle which was not quite an anguna (term borrowed from Indonesian: an anguna is a pick-up truck with seats in the back, so people can ride in it) and not quite a bus--it was open-air, like an anguna, but with seats facing forward, like a bus, rather than parallel to the side of the vehicle, like an anguna. There were sacks of rice on the floor, for delivery along the way, and other goods loaded on the roof. We started out from the market in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, with people filling all the seats and sitting on the floor (on top of the rice) and hanging on the back, and we picked up more people as we went.

Some of the young people who hung on the back

rest stop on the way to Ainaro

There was music playing--here's a taste of it:

(If the embedding doesn't work for you, you can find the 14-second video here on Flickr)

Here's the sound system:

Early on, we passed the Santa Cruz cemetery, where, in 1991, the Indonesian army killed some 250 people who were demonstrating for independence (more on that here, courtesy of Wikipedia).
Santa Cruz cemetery from the bus

Victor, the man I was sitting next to on the bus, asked me if I knew the story of the cemetery. We communicated with my very rudimentary Tetun and his equally limited English. I think with grave face more than with words I was able to convey that I did.


Victor from the bus

We bounced along, and eventually had a rest stop. This enterprising twelve-year-old (age is one of the questions people in Timor-Leste like to ask and share, at least with foreigners), engaged me in conversation in English and introduced me to her mother.

rest stop on the way to Ainaro

I shared round my big 1.5-liter bottle of drinking water (purchased in Dili for fifty cents). Meanwhile, some of the younger boys were eating what looked like puffed pork rinds, dyed green, probably purchased at the little shop where we'd stopped.

Along the way I saw lots of little roadside stands with 1.5-liter water bottles like mine recycled, filled with... tea? Something pale and golden, and sometimes also something dark dark brown. No, not tea. Can you guess? I realized what it was when I saw someone with a cloth-lined funnel, pouring some into his motor bike. Yes: gasoline (petrol), and also diesel. No gas stations along the road, but lots of these little roadside stands.

More tomorrow or the next day... I have tabs open on so many of your entries, and by now you've probably all posted new ones. With time I'll get back in the groove! And in time there'll be more (I hope, I intend) than just-the-facts-ma'am reportage. Maybe I'll alternate? Some posts that are reflective and some that are pictures? Or take things as they come... Anyway, do feel free to ask questions!

A visit

Sep. 24th, 2012 11:09 pm
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Today I had a visitor. As is my habit, I took her along a straight and dangerous road. My minion the ninja girl (or am I her minion? Hmmmm....) saw the path was marked in rust by the ghost of a leaf:

rusty ghost of a leaf

My guest filmed our progress on the straight and narrow path:

look how the ninja girl seems just to float along it (she's on the right)--she doesn't even need to balance. It's because she's a ninja

walking the rails

walking the rails

My guest is right at home in the wilderlands. No one who knows her should be surprised.

at home in the wilderness

She peeks into the witch's fiery oven

Looking into the witch's oven What's cooking?

Nothing baking there now--in that place, it was the dark pines that gave off ominous exhalations, not the smokestack.

dark clouds by the smokestack

My guest snapped some pictures of me at my new hobby :-)

skateboarding )

And then she wrote about six types of death and fifteen types of dancing (more dancing than death, today) and made me see the perfection of poison gas, and I only wish she could have enjoyed some fried dough with us--but another time.

first there is hot oil

hot oil

then there is fried dough
fried dough

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)

The wreck of the Pendleton, by Tony Falcone

For New Year's Day, would you care to hear the tale of the rescue of the crew of the Pendleton, from icy February waters, off Cape Cod? My fisherman cousin told me this story when I visited him this past summer.

The Pendleton was a 503-foot, 10,448 gross ton tank vessel, carrying 122,000 barrels of kerosene and heating oil. It had a crew of forty-one men. On the evening of 17 February 1952, the ship was caught in a nor'easter off the coast of Cape Cod, and in the early morning of the following day, the ship broke in two. The captain and seven crewmen perished when the bow half sank; the rest of the men were left drifting on the sinking stern section.

It was one of two tankers destroyed that night by the nor'easter. The other, the Fort Mercer, had been able to send out a distress signal before it broke up, so at first, the Chatham Lifeboat Station thought it was rescuing crew from just one tanker, the Fort Mercer. It was only as the day went on that they realized there were two stricken tankers.

Boatswain Bernard Webber led the expedition to rescue the survivors of the Pendleton. He and three others set out into the wind, waves, and snow of the storm in a 36-foot wooden lifeboat, with only a compass to guide them--a compass that was swept away when a wave smashed through the lifeboat's windscreen.

Webber lashed himself to the wheel, and the lifeboat found its way to the side of the sinking stern section of the Pendleton. One after another, men jumped into the icy water and were pulled aboard the lifeboat, until at last the lifeboat had rescued 32 people.

Captain W. Russell Webster, whose account I'm cribbing, writes,

Lost, with no compass to steer by and in zero visibility conditions, [the lifeboat had] just two choices. Head east into the seas and hope to survive 10-12 more hours until a new day's light brought the slim chance of transferring passengers yet again to a larger rescue ship. Or, put the wind and seas on the small boat's stern and let them force the vessel ashore somewhere where help might be nearby.

Webber chose the latter course--and the lifeboat was blown and pushed to safety in Chatham Harbor. Webber and the other three were awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for "extreme and heroic daring."

Information from W. Russel Webster, "The 'Pendleton' Rescue."

There's audio of an interview with Webber here.

asakiyume: (Em)
Although our bus arrived in Mobile, that wasn't our final destination--we rented a car so that we could go all around Mobile Bay. On our first day, though, we did look for something in Mobile: the remains of Africatown.

We learned there was a welcome center, and we went there, arriving at high noon.

Welcome Center
Graveyard visible across the street.

It seemed both abandoned and haunted. Abandoned, because there was long grass growing up around the golden commemorative busts and the plaques, and because the building was badly damaged; haunted, because although the door was locked and no one answered when we knocked, we could hear a radio playing inside.

John Henry Smith
John Henry Smith, former mayor of Prichard, Alabama, who organized a twin-cities relationship between Prichard (north of Mobile) and Ouidah, Benin (Whydah--the city in Africa from which slave ships departed for the New World).

Cudjo Kussola Lewis
Cudjo Kussola Lewis, last survivor of the slave ship Clothilde. The Encyclopedia of Alabama says, "Zora Neale Hurston filmed him, and he is thus the only known African deported through the slave trade whose moving image exists."

plaque at Africatown welcome center
Thomas Azinsou Akodjinou is a filmmaker; Felix Yao Amenyo Enklu owns the Amey entertainment group of companies.

Across the street was a graveyard. In the graveyard was a man, digging a new grave. I went over to ask him if he knew anything about the welcome center. Next to him was a casket, lying on green cloth partway in the the grave. The gravedigger told me he'd been working there since 10 am and hadn't seen anyone enter or leave the building.

... There was something very Southern Gothic about the whole situation.

Two days later, we stumbled upon this plaque in the village of Daphne. We were happy to read about the success of a child of one of the former slaves from the Clothilde, and it kind of made up for not being able to go into the welcome center.

Plaque remembering Russell Dick
"In this cemetery is buried Russell Dick, whose mother, Lucy, came into Mobile on the last voyage of the slave ship, Clothilde. He is remembered as an outstanding and industrious citizen who acquired much land in the area and once owned all the downtown of Daphne."


Jul. 22nd, 2010 06:25 pm
asakiyume: (Em)
Those of you who know Alabama history may already know about Africatown, but wow. The discovery of it blew my mind.

It seems that in 1860, some brothers in Mobile, Alabama, got the idea to send a ship to Africa and bring back a bunch of Africans as slaves--although importation of slaves had been illegal in all the United States for 52 years. A ship called the Clothilde brought 110 people, aged 5 to 23, secretly to Mobile Bay, but the crime was discovered, and the brothers were prosecuted--though not before several of the young people had indeed been sold as slaves. Then the Civil War came along, the case against the brothers was dropped, the slaves were emancipated, and those who had been brought to America on the Clothilde found each other again. And then?

Well, The Encyclopedia of Alabama reports that
In 1866, they established the settlement of African Town as the first town founded and continuously occupied and controlled by blacks in the United States ... The residents appointed Gumpa, a Fon relative of King Ghezo known as Peter Lee or African Peter, as their chief. They also established a judicial system for the town based on their own laws, which were administered by two judges, Jaba Shade—well versed in herbal medicine—and Ossa Keeby. They also built the first school in the area to provide their children with better opportunities. Their school teacher was a young African American woman ...

By the 1880s, African Town was home to a second generation that had never been to Africa, but had been told repeatedly by their parents that it was a land of abundance and beauty. Many of the youngsters had both an American and a West African name, knew the geography of their parents' homelands, and those who had two African parents, also spoke their indigenous languages. Many of these second-generation residents lived into the 1950s, and thus some African Americans whose origin was in the international slave trade spoke African languages well into the twentieth century

Is that not amazing?

And in a few short days I can go look at that place.

asakiyume: (glowing grass)
I had a great adventure in the swamp (or marsh or bog--not sure what the distinction is between those things [should check on that]) with the Healing Angel. It's good practice for him; he told me this is what he wants to do when he grows up--explore--but in bigger places.

The sun was shining, then going behind clouds, then shining--so pretty. We found a stream and followed it back to a spring where it was gushing out of the ground... in the woods behind our next-door neighbors... and also bubbling up out of the sand, so the sand was swirling and shifting in very mysterious and beautiful ways. We poured some of that water on us and threw it up in the air, and I wanted to drink some, but was too afraid of reality to do it, so I just put some on my lips (and some of it made its way in, probably, but I wish I had just *drunk* it. Maybe another time).

So after that, we set out into the swamp proper. Skunk cabbages are coming up everywhere--some mainly green with red speckles, some mainly red with green speckles, some entirely green and some entirely red. The bears better get down here and start feasting! There were some brilliant green moss covered fallen logs, looking like alligators, and tender bright green grass growing in the water, and other plants in the water, and there were these amazing hummocks, which were what we mainly balanced on to pick our way through the swamp. It was very full of water and very wet. In some places, if I stepped into the water, I sank in the mud nearly up to the top of my boot. Mainly I tried to avoid doing that, and the Healing Angel and I would jump from hummock to hummock or feel our way along a log (which usually broke under my weight, me being quite a bit heavier than an angel--and this would send him into peals of laughter; we both were laughing really--as we were when we lost our balance (fortunately regained it, but sometimes with one foot in the deeper mud-and-water) or grabbed a branch that broke off in our hands). We moved from island to island. The islands were higher bits of ground in the swamp--some of them would consist of a tree and its roots, others were hummocks, others were actual solid ground.

Eventually we made our way out of the swamp and into the woods, along a stone wall, then out, back down briefly through more of the swamp, and up onto the road where the supermarket sidewalk ends (on the other side is where the tires are breeding. Now there are six.)

I told the Healing Angel that no one in his class knows a swamp better than he does. (This will be true unless there are some serious fishermen's kids or hunters' kids in the class.)

Jumping from hummock to hummock, hearing the mud "kiss" at our boots as we pulled them out--it was so much, so much fun.

Some pictures. I think one of the plants that makes the hummocks might be this plant called tussock sedge (Carex stricta). The picture is from a government website (

Possibly, though, some of them were bearded sedge (Carex comosa). I would need someone to tell me; it's hard to tell looking at pictures on Google.

They looked more like Carix stricta. They were bouncy. Some of them looked like submerged heads--that was a weird thought.


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April 2019

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