Update: Recent Writings and Discoveries
I haven’t been blogging with any regularity lately, but I have been writing elsewhere. I contributed writing and research to an upcoming National Geographic Travel book Wild, Beautiful Places which is, amazingly, already available for pre-order on Amazon, if you’re so keen! Last month I published a piece on Lord Howe Island’s rat crisis on Atlas Obscura. It delves into the hundred-year battle between humans, rodents, and owls to save the island’s incredible biodiversity, and in particular, one very pretty palm tree. I’ve just written about the North American French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon for FranceToday.com, which has been a wonderful reminder of the roadtrip I took to get there in 2014. My beloved man chauffeured me from Virginia, through upstate New York, Montreal, Quebec, through the forests of New Brunswick, across the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia, finally arriving in Halifax, where we caught a plane to Saint Pierre. Once we arrived, we spent four days eating scallops and quiche, drinking wine, wandering the town’s few streets, sailing around the harbor, and never getting in a car. It was divine.
Since I’ve been doing much more research lately than writing, I’d like to start a new series here where I talk about some of the things I glean from all these unrelated projects. For instance, recently I learned that:
- There is a long-held but slowly diminishing cultural norm in Albania which allows women to take vows of celibacy and live out their lives as men, enabling them to work as men and provide for their families.
- “Ladin” is a Romance language – a composite of dialects – spoken in the Tyrol region of Northern Italy. It is spoken in the Italian town of Cortina d’Ampezza which has some very medieval property-inheritance laws.
- In the Batanes archipelago of the Philippines, the Ivatan people are known to wear a headdress called a vakul, which is essentially a long, natural fiber “blonde” wig (think Garth from Wayne’s World) to keep off the sun and rain.
My hope is that if I jot down these findings, I may actually commit them to memory. I have such a hard time remembering all the things I research (it’s much better when I’m writing, but even then, whole subjects can be easily lost). I recently had lunch with my old mentor at National Geographic Traveler who said she suffered the same problem of not retaining details, or even entire stories, from issue to issue. There is just too much out there, too much to know! If I keep a little running tab here though, I’ll know where to find it all again. A little exercise in digital hoarding, if you will.