Friday, October 26, 2007

See Through My Eyes; Guatemala

In Guatemala about 36 Hours. The smells, the land, the buses, the people so wonderful: I feel at home. However, the poverty is so pervasive, it makes the middle and upper classes seem so much richer. And everything accompanying the inequities much more sad.

This is such a lush land that ever the weeds are flowers. Still seeing trees being cut and carted off (maybe that`s the wrong verb since campesinos carry such huge loads on their backs they are horizontal). Wonder if there will be noticeably more deforestation when I wake up in the village tomorrow?

The PanAmerican highway is being doubled in size: 5 new bridges since I was here a year and a half ago. My friends mention how much of the construction funds are lost to graft and I am reminded of how many American tax dollars going to private companies for supposedly building infrastructure in Iraq.

The presidential run-off is Nov. 4 I´m glad I won´t be near the cities. They say the candidate promising "El Mano Duro" (the strong hand) is ahead in the polls. Given the fancy new airport (Aurora) in Guatemala City, I guess appearances count with tourism.

Once I´m up in the village I will write about more promising pictures.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Guatemalan Room with a View

I hope to post a few notes from the internet cafe a half hour walk down the mountain.

Michigan Nature Retreat

Changing Beech Leaves.

Shagbark Hickory.

Mystery Mushroom...who knows its identity? Do tell.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Back to Bong

How could I resist? Gail Specht of Northwind and I hiked the Richard Bong State recreational area dressed in orange, not to be mistaken for some delectable plumage. The record heat meant we saw no one save this one fellow trying out his airborn skills.

The lack of frost had the landscape still looking like summer save for a few stands of Sumac rippling the green with burgundy so deep you could drink it and apply adjectives running to "chocolate & berry."

Gail, the real photographer, introduced me to her plastic toy camera Diane and we spent most of our shots (kinder than the hunters in their blinds) on glimmering milkweed that reminds us of the transient nature of all things...and the life cycles which amaze.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Fine Gardening: "Last Word"

My opinion piece "Gardening Without Borders" appears in the current Fine Gardening (Nov/Dec '07) in the "Last Word" section. Hard to take yourself seriously with that concept, but of course, I do. Anyway, it compares and contrasts some of the gardening conditions in Sweden, Guatemala & Chicago. The illustration is quite nice albeit presenting a fantasy version of my gardening plot. Since the last few posts have shown what deforested mountain tops look like in NW Guatemala, here is a view looking out onto Swedish birch around the winter solstice. If you read the article, the rest of this picture will hopefully have more resonance.

I am teaching a class with this same title at the Chicago Botanic Garden on 9 February 2008. Good Luck navigating their website!