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Nov 13, 2010

Becoming a Topographicalist

Cold Creek Bog photo by BarrytheBirder

A few days ago, I thanked my sister Diane for her part in helping me to get over a recent rough patch in my life. I noted how her encouragement had got me back to blogging regularly. She subsequently commented that my blog-writing reminded her of the 20th/21st century writer Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek) but "without the hysteria". She also referred to a Thoreau quote about seeing nature clearly. Henry David Thoreau (Walden, or Life in the Woods), along with his mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson (Nature), were two key figures of the Transcendentalism movement in America in the mid-1830s. Annie Dillard has been described as an ecotheologist, among many other things, and someone who would likely have fasicinating chats with Emerson and Thoreau, were they alive today.
Thinking about the references my sister mentioned, made me ask myself what I was really trying to do with my BarrytheBirder blogspot. I am not a transcendentalist, nor am I an enviromemtal ethicist. But I have always loved maps, especially topographical maps. I love to have a topographical map nearby as I stumble about the countryside. I am intrigued with how places, buildings and natural features that appear on a sheet of paper or in a photo come alive, as I walk along and experience the real thing. I become an explorer and love to note what others might not notice. It is a simple pursuit and serves no truly useful purpose, but I feel at one with the world around me, and am sometimes inspired to share the simple wonders with others. This interest in topography and stepping out to embrace the landforms, the waterways and creature encounters makes me what I have decided to call a Topographicalist. I will continue to be a birdwatcher, a wine-lover, a writer of haikus and a doting grandfather, but for the near future, when asked what I do, I will say I am a Topographicalist. It will be amusing to see if it starts or stalls conversations.

Please comment if you wish.


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