“If geography is prose, maps are iconography.”

The day is cloudy and windy but quite warm, 61°. Those leaves I mentioned that were hanging on the oak tree are now on my deck. Every time I look out the window, I see more of them fall, victims of the wind. If I hadn’t been outside earlier, I would have thought it was cold. The day has that look about it.

When I was in elementary school, I loved geography class. Our books were filled with all sorts of information about each country and had the most wonderful pictures of faraway places. I still remember the picture of Christ the Redeemer standing with arms stretched on top of what I thought was a giant mountain. I probably didn’t know the word magnificent then, but that’s how it looked to me. Another picture was so beautiful I’ve never forgotten it. The picture was of a windmill in Holland surrounded by tulips. The windmill was in the background, and the front of the picture was filled with the colorful tulips, a flower I didn’t know and had never seen in real life. I lived in a region of  gardens filled with pansies. I remember reading about coffee growing in South America and how rice grew in paddies. We memorized the capitals of most countries and had to find them on the giant map in the front of the room. The nun would give us a long wooden pointer, and we’d find the country and then place the tip of the pointer on it. I learned all about the world because of those classes, and I learned we were just a small part of that world. The big map taught me that.

My last geography class was in the eight grade. High school was too crowded with other classes to include it. I missed geography. Algebra just didn’t have the same allure as those faraway places and amazing pictures.

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15 Comments on ““If geography is prose, maps are iconography.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    It is absolutely calm outside and has been that way all day. The fog they said would go away early this morning is still here and it is rather chilly. Every now and again I step outside into the cold to cool down, I have fever today and it feels so nice standing there in the dark.

    I loved geography and it was my best subject. But we had it till ninth grade. I once knew all states in the US and all their capitals, not any longer though 🙂 🙂 Tulips was very common here and I’ve read somewhere that swedes are the ones buying most tulips per person in the world, even more that those living in Holland 🙂 And to be honest, my family have had loads of gardeners so I got the chance to see many different plants long before they got popular.

    I could sit at home looking at different maps and see myself travelling in different countries 🙂 I really don’t need to travel, I’ve already been everywhere 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      The day was pretty darn warm. Gracie loved being in the yard, but I didn’t do much all day. Yesterday I was busy, and I will be again tomorrow so today was a day of rest.

      I don’t think tulips are as popular here as hyacinths and crocus, the first flower to poke up its head above the ground at the cold end of winter.

      I still dream of places I want to see,

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I think I remember that photo of the windmill with acres of tulips in front of it. It must be an iconic photo of the Netherlands. Sometimes there is a girl wearing a skirt and riding a bicycle along a road between the tulips fields. The bicycle has a basket on the front.

    I don’t remember having geography except as a part of Social Studies. When I was in grammar school Social Studies included the local customs, language, climate, capital and/or major cities, industries and natural resources of the country in question.

    It’s warm and windy up here today. 67F. Not much sun, though.

    Enjoy the day.

    • olof1 Says:

      I remember that photograph with the girl and her bicycle as well 🙂 I guess they used that all over the world to describe how people looked in Holland 🙂 🙂


    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I remember that girl as well, and I remember the basket on the front of her bike. Funny what we all remember. I figure that book was filled with pictures but only a couple made an impact.

      We had history and geography as two separate subjects. All you mentioned were part of geography.

      No sun here but it was still warm all day.

  3. Zoey & Me Says:

    We just took a refresher course as we are following my daughter, husband, and little grandson to India. They land in 34 mins. So we have seen all the geography we forgot. Me guessing wrong that Calcutta was near the Pakistan border. No way. That was a surprise. I guest the Indian Ocean and was wrong again. It’s the Pacific Ocean they are on. So I could go on and on but I do see where they were trying to fly to Kuwait first, that would have made for a few hours flight. Instead the only flight was Luthansa which has a folding basinet in between the seat rows. So it was DC to Frankfurt, Franfurt to Calcutta. Both 9 hours in the air.

    • J.M. Heinrichs Says:

      “Kolkata” is in the Ganges River delta (on the Hooghly River), upstream from the Bay of Bengal, a part of the Indian Ocean. The Pacific is several thousand miles further East. Prior to 1971, it was near the Pakistan border, as Bangla Desh was still East Pakistan.


    • katry Says:

      That’s a long way for staying in a basinet. I hope he ran himself ragged in Franfurt, the airport is big enough. I figure it was probably a night flight to India so that would have helped.

      My flight to Ghana was Boston to Frankfurt to Accra. It was about 7 hours to Frankfurt then another 6 1/2 to Ghana.

      Like you I have no idea where anything is in India. It is on my list to visit, and I would like to go north, but I really couldn’t use my pointed to use where the cities are.

  4. Lori Kossowsky Says:

    It’s a beautiful day here. It’s odd, I blank out when it comes to subjects in school except for English and art classes. Later, I’ll go swimming, and find out if there is anything I can do for the Occupy movement. I wish I could remember more. When I was in 8th grade, my parents knew their business was failing and before they went bankrupt they decided to take a two-week tour to Amsterdam, Paris, and London. They weren’t going to take me at first, but for some reason decided I should go. Those are the pictures I have in my memory— although they do fade with time.
    Waving and trying to get this mind to work before 3pm,

    • katry Says:

      We never did see the sun. I really liked learning and have the whole of my life.

      Wow, I would have been so jealous if I knew you back then. I never rode on a plane until I was in college and even then it was from Boston to Cape Cod.

      Waving back!

  5. Bob Says:

    The weather here in Vancouver was clear and cool today but very windy.

    American’s are not very good at geography. A couple of years ago I took my son to a Texas Ranger game. Two woman were sitting behind us were talking about how they hold season tickets and came to every game. The Rangers were playing the Toronto Blue Jays and they played the national anthem of both countries before the game. The woman behind us remarked to her friend that she couldn’t understand why they would play “Oh Canada”. I turned around and remarked, “Because Toronto is in Canada”. The woman replied, “Oh no, Toronto is in New York.” So much for elementry school geography.

    • katry Says:

      It was windy all day but it stayed warm. It’s is 57° at 9:30.

      They don’t teach geography anymore as a separate subject. I guess it’s is taught only when it comes up in context. Most kids don’t know where anything really is.

  6. J.M. Heinrichs Says:

    Yep, although I do check myself …

    Did you know that Eastern Canada begins about 50 miles east of Vancouver?


    • katry Says:

      I will woefully ignorant about other than the eastern provinces of Canada. Capitals I koinw but that is about all.

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