Category Archives: geography


Tap, tap, tap… tap, tap, tap…

Hey, is this thing working?  Can anybody hear me?

This little old blog of mine is like a favorite hangout of my youth, one I haven’t visited in ages.  I’ve been away so long, and now, upon my return, I find it dreadfully neglected.  It needs some dusting, perhaps some weeding, definitely needs a broom taken to it to clear out the cobwebs.

I’ll try and get on that.

Where have I been? You may wonder.  Or maybe you don’t.  As the lyrics to that Tom Petty song go, maybe you don’t come around here no more, either.  I wouldn’t blame you. I realize it’s not much fun to hang around an old place like this, one where the proprietor can’t even be bothered with its upkeep.

I’ve just been doing other things.  Nothing exciting, nothing worth writing about or believe me, you’d have heard about them. Mostly, work. And reading books (hey, I bought myself a Kindle!), and running.  Lots and lots of running.  But not with the Kindle in my hand.  It seems a little delicate.  I JUST bought it, I don’t want to drop it.

And then, well, Snags is growing up.  And growing up means there just isn’t as much to share. 

There is this, though….

The other morning at breakfast Snags was telling me about the world and how in some parts of the world, because the world is a “sss-fear” (that’s sphere but he can’t pronounce it correctly) people are walking upside down.

“Mom,” Snags asked.  “Do you know why that is? Do you know WHY they can walk upside down and not fall off the planet?”

I was happy. I felt like it was the Final Jeopardy question and guess what?  I knew the answer! (Which is totally opposite of how I feel when he quizzes me about Star Wars, by the way).

“Um… gravity?” I replied.  (You see, I added the “um” before I said gravity so I wouldn’t sound too smug.  I’m a nice mom like that).

“No!” Snags replied.

“Not gravity?” I asked, stunned.

“Nope.  It has to do with the way the earth spins around and the angle it tilts and all that.”

Folks, I was a geography major in college.  I learned a little about the earth and how it spins and its tilt and “all that”.  The kid has mixed up gravity with the seasons.

But I let it go, because here, where we live, we’re in the middle of the snowiest winter on record, and schools have been closed for over a week and the roadways are one lane wide, and snow piles hide stop signs and swallow turn lanes.  It’s pretty grave, for sure.  I can see how Snags would confuse gravity and the seasons.

Now if I can only get him to say “sphere” instead of “sss-fear”.  I’ll try and get on that too. 

And oh, yeah… I’ll be back.


Filed under blogging, geography, kids, seasons, Snags, snow, Star Wars

Backseat Driver

My husband and I are both Geographers.  By schooling and by hobby.  We both have undergraduate and graduate degrees in Geography.  We like maps, especially old maps, and we have framed maps hanging on many of the walls in our home.  We have more than one globe, and issues of National Geographic abound.  We have road atlases in our car, and folded up maps in the glove compartment.  And the irony of this is that none of those things, of course, ever stop us from getting lost.

And our son seems to be following, to some degree, in our footsteps.  Or in this case, our tire tracks…

You see, I was driving Snags to preschool one recent morning when he pulled one of our many road atlases out from the door compartment in the car where we store them.  From his position in the backseat of the car he asked, “Mom, what does ‘S’ stand for?”  I had to think about this for a moment.  Then I realized that he must be looking at the north arrow in the atlas so I responded, “Um…South.”  To which my backseat driver announced, “Okay.  We’re going to go south out of the garage and down the driveway. Then we are going to turn west up the street.” 

And now you must be wondering, if I just taught him ‘S’ stood for south, where did he learn about west? Well, from Curtis, Kimee, Karla, Shaun, and Jenn on Hi-5, of course!  You don’t think professional geographers like my husband and I would teach this kind stuff to a child do you? Because we didn’t.  We don’t have the time.  North, south, east and west are on a whole other directional plane from “Go UP to your room!” or “Sit DOWN, you know better than to stand on the table!” 

Anyway, think about this… Snags was holding that atlas flat on his lap.  In that position, the north arrow on the page would point straight ahead and north would always be in front of us.  If we back up, go in reverse to get out of the garage and down the driveway, we must be headed south.  Because as he sees it, the north arrow is pointing forward, and south is pointing behind us.

And so naturally, if we turn left off of our street we will be heading west, and conversely, if we turn right, we’ll be headed east.  And mostly this is correct.  But kids don’t understand that you need to take into account your current position when you are reading a map, and THAT makes all the difference.

As I continued driving toward preschool my son announced, roughly every 7 seconds, that we were “…going north… still going north… still going north… still. going. north.  Still going north, mom…” 

I found myself driving a little faster, trying to get to the place where we had to turn.  Because, I figured, at least then he could stop saying “still going north…” 

I mean, I felt like I was stuck in that orange-banana knock knock joke.  You know it right? 

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana who?
Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana who?
Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana who?

And just when you are about to take out your own eardrums with the stiff end of a banana peel after saying “Banana who?” for the 432nd time, the joke changes and they say “Orange” and you say, “Orange who?” and the joke teller says: “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?” Yes, I know…  Ha. Ha. Very funny.  Not.

Finally, we had a turn approaching and the voice from the back seat declared “We’re going to turn east.”  I thought then I would just test my theory about my son’s directional competency and so I asked him, “How do you know that?” and he replied, pointing out the window, “Because my school is over there; see EAST!” 

“Okay,” I said.  “Is that right or left?” I asked him.

“Right!” he said.  And he was correct, he was pointing to the right.

Except… right wasn’t east.  On that point he was wrong.  And backing down our driveway isn’t south.  But he’s only 5.  I think this method of learning about direction is just fine for right now.  My husband tends to disagree and thinks I should correct Snags, tell him the actual direction we are traveling.  But understanding that takes more skill than I think a five year old possesses.  It requires the ability to read a map for one.  It requires the ability to READ as another. 

Besides, even possessing those very important skills of literacy and map reading, my husband still manages to get us lost when he’s driving somewhere.

So for now anyway, I’m content to keep on heading north.  You know, as long as I can turn once in a while.


Filed under direction, driving, geography, humor, life, maps