Thursday, November 13, 2014

Maritime Tales

Drawing from narratives in several recently read books, I’m beginning to stitch together pieces of a history of trade and maritime exploration spanning cultures and continents. My interest so far lies in the routes spreading out from Europe around America to Japan then on to mainland Asia, India, Africa and returning to Europe. Initially I would like to build a timeline and commodity map and then look at culture as an export.

My first window into this world came unexpectedly from a book called the Golden Spruce, a story and history of the man who cut down a golden spruce tree in the Haaida Guaai Islands. It is also a story of industrial greed, environmental protest, mental health, and cultural divides. As part of setting the context for the story, the author, John Vaillant, takes us on a Northwest Coast historical journey from the first explorations of Europeans, and the ensuing trade relations, which arose around the seal hunt, with the coastal first nations, Japan, China, Russia, Spain and England.

What struck me were the dates and how early on this trade was thriving.  A world trade route established with the Americas, before the gold rushes, before even the inland eastern North American fur trade was in full swing. 

Shortly thereafter, I was reading a collection of short stories by Jack London, titled “To Build a Fire” and other stories, stories of the north, of the gold rush, sled dogs, bitter cold, the hero a lone figure often of immense inner strength and a true heart.  One of these tales told of a meeting of such men in a northern camp, each on their own trail, and of a Giant from northern European and his North West coast First Nations bride. Also with them was a mysterious First Nations man, but one who tellingly showed in his character the mannerisms of having spent many years of travel in the company of Europeans. The story then unveils the history of the three, the Giant, a seal skin trader, and of a First Nations community to which belonged the mysterious man, then a boy, and the bride, then a girl about to be married one to the other. It told of the girls numerous refusals to the marriage proposal, and how the boy had brought greater and more lavish gifts and heaped upon the shore in front of the girls’ family house until the proposal was accepted. It then told of the coming of the seal traders and the wealth they brought and of the girl being taken by the Giant. Many years passed, and the boy travelled far and wide across the world in search of his lost bride to be. The Giant and his stolen bride travel on far adventures, moving across the tropics, the Far East, Africa, through the great and distant ports of the world.  All the while the Indian boy, now grown, follows their trail, sometimes faint and sometimes close, until the story catches up with them in this gold rush camp in the far north of America.

What struck me was the scope, a glimpse into a time of great exploration, of early booms and busts, of cultures blending in far and harsh landscapes. It also gives great insight to the nature of human beings and the things that drive us.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tom tom tom

“Now tequila may be the favoured beverage of outlaws but that doesn't mean it gives them preferential treatment. In fact, tequila probably has betrayed as many outlaws as has the central nervous system and dissatisfied wives. Tequila, scorpion honey, harsh dew of the doglands, essence of Aztec, crema de cacti; tequila, oily and thermal like the sun in solution; tequila, liquid geometry of passion; Tequila, the buzzard god who copulates in midair with the ascending souls of dying virgins; tequila, firebug in the house of good taste; O tequila, savage water of sorcery, what confusion and mischief your sly, rebellious drops do generate!” Tom Robbins

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

playa flamingo with samy and the bruns
One year and one day ago.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

friday evening blues project

No plans, no prospects, no ambitions so to speak; just some Cohen, some guitar, and a soaking in the rain.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

my day passes

I’ve been spending my days reading blogs/websites on food, street style, random “here is my life as I choose to portray it to the world”, politics, scents, and food, mostly food. I guess I should give credit where credit is due or at least acknowledge that yes I sneak peek into your day every so often. Oh, and I do this at work in between bouts of wistfully staring out the window at the clouds slip and sliding down mountain sides and lounging down below with the traffic. I suppose eventually I will link these or maybe it will be automatic we’ll see. This list is partial and in no way sorted or influenced by visiting frequency or my own politics.

Madas Fine Grind – it’s gone but it was the first so deserves mention
Cherniak on Politics - radar
Small Dead Animals – mostly for the well crafted comments section
Raymi The Minx – one day I googled blogger awards and went surfing. This one stuck around for the sheer mind blowing idea that someone could be so dedicated
And she’s a T.O. girl god I miss patio season at the Black Bull
Simply Breakfast - beautiful
Epicurious – deliciousness
Foreign Dispatches – elitist goodness
The Sartorialist – rare goodness
Face Hunter – medium rare
Ice Age Heat Wave – well, the title
Elite Music - radar
Basenotes – I’ve had the same eau de following me around since I quit patchouli at 18 but I have a sensitive sense of it
Sorcery of Scent - and having one is not always a blessing
Radmad – she found me I’m a little unnerved by the whole focus on running though
The Affected Provincial’s Almanack
La Femme – I think I’m in love
Secret Lounge – such a good idea but a little light on content
TriniGourmet – gnocchi success
Gastronomy Domine – red wine chorizo
Intoxicating Prose – wine one of my dearest most miserable friends
Cruising Central America – cause I want that boat

There are many more but that’s it for now.