Saturday, 24 September 2016

Saturday Photo: Smoke in the West Usambara Mountains

The photo was taken 15 years ago when I was travelling in Africa--Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya. People were preparing for the planting season, burning the stubble left from the previous season. 

It was a little disquieting because the rains were weeks away, and the air was frequently filled with smoke. But people told me there was nothing to worry about.  Certainly there always seemed to be someone near the fire, and the fact that underbrush and leaves were raked away meant that there was little on the ground under trees to aburn should a fire begin to grow. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Saturday Photo (Better Late Than Never): Road through Time

This is a little late because I've been doing such things as looking over the copy edit of my new book Road through Time: The Story of Humanity on the MoveAnd just as I was finishing up, I received the cover.  Pretty nice, eh?

Here's the bumph from the University of Regina's Spring 2017 catalogue:

In this thoroughly researched and beautifully written history of roads as vectors of change, Mary Soderstrom documents how routes of migration and transport have transformed both humanity and our planet.
Accessible and entertaining, Road Through Time begins with the story of how anatomically modernhumans left Africa to populate the world. 
She then carries us along the Silk Road
in central Asia, and tells of roads built for war in Persia, the Andes, and the Roman Empire. She sails across the seas, and introduces the  rst railways, all before plunking us down in the middle of a massive, modern freeway.
The book closes with a view from the
end of the road, literally and figuratively, asking, can we meet the challenges presented by a mode of travel dependent on hydrocarbons, or will we decline, like so many civilizations that have come before us?
Sound interesting?  If I hadn't written the book, I'd want to read it, says she, smiling!  The catalogue gives the pub date as April 15, 2017, so I guess we'll have to wait a bit to do that!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Saturday Photo: From Haiti, with Love

Something like 45 years ago I took my first trip outside the North American continent when my sister and her husband invited me to go with them to Haiti.  He had some business to do, and she wanted company.

It was a life changing trip for me.  They were not ones for venturing outside the hotel compound until mid day, but I decided I couldn't let the opportunity go to waste.  So I got when the church bells chimed at 5 a.m. and went exploring.  My reasoning was the the people out and about at that time were solid citizens, so a gringo lady would be safe. 

I was.  The experience was very rewarding, since I got to talk to people going to work, school and market, and could observe them going about their daily lives.  Since then I've refined the method a little: I don't talk to men ordinarily but greet all women with a smile.  But during the many miles I've notched up since then, not once did I come back with anything but positive impressions of the basic kindness of people, even though their circumstance may be difficult.

This is a painting that I bought on that trip, one of the many, many primitive works being sold to tourists then.  Love the mixture of colour and somberness.  Haiti has been on my mind the last few weeks as I finish up my next book, about unidentical twins, that is States and states that have much in common yet are very different.  One of the pairs is that of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but more about that later.