Geographic Spring 2013
Elma Burnham 5 Fish Camp Alaska, USA 10 Photo Essay: Humans in Landscape Adam Ouriel 13
Lost Generations of Israel Tel Aviv, Israel
Luke Whelan 19 Fiddle Rhythms Vermont, USA Morag McKenzie 27 Waterways in the Dust Botswana Levi Westerveld 30 “Progress will Kill Us” Dordogne, France Kiana Cateriano 35 Kailua: A New American Place Hawaii, USA Hillary Chutter-Ames 38 Hearing History Georgia Syd Schulz 42 Lost in Transmission USA
Thailand (Anthea Viragh) Cover: Cuba (Amanda Wiggins) 1
Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong (Andrew Catomeris) Left: Doolin, Ireland (Patrick Freeman)
Editors’ Note In January, the National Geographic Society celebrated its 125th anniversary. This spring, iddlebury Geographic celebates its fifth. The editors of Middlebury Geographic have witnessed the M transformation of our magazine from an independent senior project into an engaging forum for students to share their personal adventures and pursue their passion for storytelling, photography, and cartography. There are many ways to get from point A to point B. When we travel, we choose our method of transportation, the pace of our adventure, and the places we visit. But the journey rarely goes exactly as planned. It is when we are forced to confront the unexpected that we pause to reevaluate the reality before us. The pieces we collected in this issue show that this reality is often simpler than we realize. Whether salmon fishing in Alaska, confronting a hometown’s developing identity, or becoming reacquainted with local traditions, our contributors share tales of simplicity and simplicity lost. We hope you enjoy them. Sincerely, Andrew Catomeris Ricky Chen Alex Jackman Kaveh Waddell
spend my summers commercial salmon fishing with a family-
run, set-net operation on the Nushagak River in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Because I
find it difficult to describe, I usually start with what it looks like when people ask.
Fish Camp Photos and Text By Elma bURNHAM
At low tide, the gray mudflats extend to the river’s channel where the brownish water gently recedes with the ebb. Across the bay the water meets the mountains, providing the perfect canvas for a sunset. Behind the cabins on Nushagak point, a verdant hill stretches along the beach. Over the hill, the landscape changes to miles of green, vast tundra.
“It’s a beautiful place,” I say. This is not difficult for people to understand. It is not as though they know what I’m describing, but, rather, they know the feeling and appreciation for their own beautiful place. From there, I launch into the fishing itself because if I leave out the complicated bits, it is also straightforward. I explain that we usually switch crews at high tides, meaning that it’s twelve hours on and twelve hours off. I say that we use aluminum skiffs to work our nets that we keep wet by moving with the tide. The goal is to catch as many salmon as possible. Usually this means sockeye (also known as reds) that we sell to a tender, or a bigger boat hired by the cannery that buys our fish. “But what do you actually do?” they say.
The vista at a lower tide, showing off the mudflats 5
That is when I explain what a gill net looks like and what it takes to remove the fish from a mess of stretchy plastic. The net is a web of diamonds, designed to trap the fish by its gills as it swims through it. This long rectangle is essentially transparent in the ocean, weighted at the bottom with a lead line and supported by buoys at the top. Our job is to get the fish out of the net and into our boat and then to the tender. This process of removing the fish from the plastic thread tight around the gills or mouth is known as “picking” fish and should always be done as quickly as possible. Cleaning the net faster means it is back catching fish in the water faster. Pull the net over the boat’s bow,
pick out all the fish, fill the skiff ’s fish-bins, roll along under the net to the next few fathoms full of fish, pick out all the fish, fill the skiff ’s fish-bins, sell to the tender. Repeat. The next part of the conversation is mostly a correction of misconceptions. But only if they’re interested. Sometimes after the beautiful place part, interest is lost, and the politeness of the original question does not sustain this full explanation. The first clarification is that it is not, in fact, like the Discovery Channel’s The Deadliest Catch. Small little parts of it are similar, but the comparison is weak. Sometimes I say, “Yeah, kinda,” and let their imaginations run wild. Usually I say, “Not quite” and explain how we live on land not the boat and catch fish not crab and that these differences make it a largely incomparable experience. There are more similar operations in the same river system. Known as “drifters,” these fishermen roll their nets out the end of their boat, which is larger than our thirty-foot skiff and home to the crew during the season. The second assumption is about the amount of money I make. I earn a percentage that is based on how many fish return up the river to spawn and how many of them land in our nets. This is really none of their business. Finally, I am not the only woman in the bay. Sure, the industry is predominantly male, but this distinction does not explain my experience. If they focus on my gender and what it means for fishing, they are missing the point. What’s important is that I work hard, pick fast, maintain a good attitude and catch them all. “Do you like it?” the truly interested person will then ask. Here is where I stumble. My few-minute spiel for this part is poorly crafted, and up until 6
Pebble Mine is a proposed copper mine that would dig the largest open-pit in North America at the head of the river system in Bristol Bay, threatening a multitude of ecosystems. Anti-pebble paraphernalia can be found in every shape and form in the bay (above); the crew relaxes after a long day of work (below); A fishcamp friend, Megan, cuts up a fish for a â€œYukon-styleâ€? smoke. The filets remain attached at the tail and hang to dry after a quick stint in a smoker (across).
this point I relied too strongly on the relatable “beautiful place” descriptor. It is hard to explain how I enjoy living without electricity, sleeping limited hours, living in waders and neoprene raingear, waiting out the pulses of fish in the rain curled up in the aluminum bow of a skiff, and picking fish out of nets with cold, swollen fingers. I don’t like my summers. I love them—but I struggle to explain why. I love that I am working with my hands and working hard. I love that even when it rains for days it is beautiful. I love that the culture is unique to the place and how it is something that I have never encountered anywhere else. I love that I turn off my phone for two months and ignore the Internet, because there, it doesn’t really exist. I love that my focus narrows to the goals of fishing and the lives of the people on the boat or who sit with me for a quick meal between shifts. Eventually there comes the part when I can’t say anymore because my thoughts have been displaced from the conversation and back to Alaska where I feel different than most other
I don’t hate them. In fact, I love them. But I love them even more now that they are condensed into the three weeks when I come home before school starts. I don’t feel part of a simple reality at home. At home my goals are lofty and various, complicated and elusive. At fishcamp they are clearer: catch them all. Yes, stay safe, stay positive, enjoy yourself and the rowdy yet caring company you keep, but in the end: catch them all. Catch every last fish until your organs oscillate an hour after you’ve come in to the beach and stepped off the boat. Until your cotton glove covers are stained rusty from the oxygenated blood of the gills. Until your face and wrists itch with the shiny scales that fly off by the millions. Until the “fun bucket” full of snacks is soggy and empty. Until you’d probably give up a couple hundred pounds of fish to change your socks and sit on the couch with the friends and crew who make your coffee in the morning. This is what makes this place beautiful: a simple reality, with good company and unforgettable views. I am still learning how to navigate this
Humans in Landscape
South Africa Ally Silberkleit
This is what makes this place beautiful: a simple reality, with good company and unforgettable views. places. It is a feeling of reality and simplicity. Everywhere else, this is a gross oxymoron. Fishing is not simple, but when I’m fishing I feel simple. I live simply. Yes, I also feel removed from some people and things I love—like the sunny beaches of my hometown, my family, my friends, and that summertime feeling that there is nothing else that needs to be done and no worry that the fish will show six hours after you get in from a sixteen-hour shift. My summers are different when I spend them at home.
simple reality, how to let it infiltrate other parts of my life. When people ask about my Alaskan summers, they ask about more than the Nushagak River, more than the mountains, more than mudflats, more than the fishing. They ask about a lifestyle I am still getting to know. As I come out of my daydream, I answer, “Yeah, I like it. I love it, even. It’s a beautiful place. Things are different out there.”
Kenya Emily Selch, left Thailand Anthea Viragh, right Cuba Amanda Wiggins, below
y grandfather, Arie, speaks in a distinctively low voice and
with an English accent reserved only for villains in children’s movies. When I was younger I told Arie, which means “lion” in Hebrew, that
he sounded like Scar from The Lion King. But his affect is not so sinister as it is esteemed. His voice resonates throaty, saturated with lively inflection. Completely gone is the mane of his youth, but his charm is still wry and his smile, youthful. Other singular features have persisted, most notably a curious uniform consisting of the same jeans, short-sleeved button-down shirt, and broken Velcro shoes held
The Lo s t G e n e r at i o n s of Israel Adam Ouriel
together by masking tape that he has worn each time I see him. When I met him in Tel Aviv this October for his eightieth birthday, I was not surprised to find the same Tel Aviv
wardrobe and the same boyish grin. The physical and personality quirks of my saba (grandfather in Hebrew) take on a new life in the apartment he shares with my savta (grandmother). Their flat is made instantly recognizable by several distinguishing characteristics: a dining room closer to a museum than a living space, its walls almost invisible having disappeared behind an expansive, piecemeal collection of paintings; a kitchen home to the two part symphony of the clamor of Savta’s cooking and her worried bickering with Saba; and a sea of shelves lining multiple rooms, full of cassettes of operas in Italian, Russian, French, Spanish—any imaginable language in which an opera could have been written. Were a modern apartment to have these features, you might think to call its owner an eccentric. But in Israel, in an apartment standing for decades, they suggest something entirely different. These artifacts recall an era of what might many label the nation’s cultural and intellectual golden age. I believe my grandfather to be an enigmatic man who escapes most labels, but he is in part a living representation of that age. For me, he has always represented the Old World—a multi-linguist, an academic, and a shrewd world traveler who has committed to memorymemorized an expansive canon of poems, arias, and verses. His persona, one greatly informed by the influence and culture
of these European intellectuals, and his apartment are the byproducts of the Israel of his childhood. I came to this epiphany while my grandfather and I were touring the citadels of Akko, one of our favorite places in Israel. Each time I visit the city I am increasingly struck by its overwhelming cultural history, the product of continuous habitation since the second millennium BC by Egyptians, Greeks, Jews, Romans, Mamluks, Crusdaers, Ottomans, Napoleon and his army, and now, both Jewish- and Arab-Israelis. While Akko has long drifted into obscurity since its pinnacle as one of the most important cities in the world, I can always sense the lingering of its previous incarnations, just as I start to detect the coexistence of several distinct forms of the state of Israel, the simultaneous appearance of different generational Israeli zeitgeists. I have realized that my grandparents’ flat, more so than any other site I have encountered during annual childhood trips and a handful of youth group tours, is the only Israel I truly know. Accordingly, my identity as an AmericanIsraeli was not fashioned within the confines of a small apartment, but in a past era. Arie Ouriel was born in Berlin in 1933. His father, Paul, was chased out by the Nazis later that year, as he joined a wave of European Jewish migrants bound for Palestine in what 14
an attempt to mobilize the middle class. Azit Bayit is perhaps the strongest example of this school of thought. An urban planning initiative brought to Israel during the Second Aliyah, its constituency sought to form a Hebrew urban center in a healthy environment, planned according to the rules of aesthetics and modern hygiene. That city became Tel Aviv.
is now called the Fifth Aliyah. At the time of Paul’s expulsion, Arie was in very poor health, and could not make the trip. He was tended to by his Catholic nanny, who upon his recovery brought him to Petah Tikvah, where Paul rented a small farm. Petah Tikvah was the first modern Jewish agricultural settlement in Ottoman Palestine, which my grandfather describes as a product of an idealistic desire common to all the Zionists. They envisioned a return to the fatherland, literally conceived as the soil, physically abandoned two thousand years earlier with the exile forced upon the Jews by the Romans. The agrarian ideal was brought to Israel primarily by the two preceding waves of Jewish-European immigration, the First and Second Aliyahs. Over 60,000 European Jews migrated to the Mandate, amongst which were many prominent intellectuals such as Hayim Nachman Bialik, the national poet of the State of Israel. Most of these immigrants were motivated by a kind of Labor Zionism whose chief architect was German, Moses Hess, and proliferated by the European founders of the 15
modern Israeli state, such as the first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, born David Grün in Poland. These figures played a crucial role in establishing the sociopolitical infrastructure in tangible and intangible ways that cannot be overstated, and thus, their European influence is equally as powerful. Whereas the Zionism conceived and advocated by well-known figures like Theodore Herzl and Chaim Weizmann was charged with political rhetoric appealing to an international community, Labor Zionism focused more on the importance of the work of the Israeli people itself. They believed the success of Israel was dependent on the efforts of a Jewish working class that relocated to Palestine, who would construct a progressive Jewish society around three cornerstones: the kibbutz (a collective agrarian settlement), the moshav (a settlement with private family-owned plots of land where economic planning and agricultural accessories are collective) and an urban Jewish proletariat. The Histadrut, a trade union federation, was organized with the lattermost goal in mind in
Perhaps the most festive celebration of my grandfather’s birthday took place in a restaurant in South Tel Aviv, an area that has been recently converted into a center of industry. Our party was at an Azerbaijani restaurant owned by my grandfather’s friend, Mordechai. The restaurant is built in a classically ornate Central-Asian style, and looks like a palace. Eighty-five men were flown in to build it — the gold detail that curves along the regal red walls, the crystal chandeliers, and a stage where there are weekly musical performances. With no event being celebrated that evening, the restaurant was almost empty, save for a small group of Mordechai’s drunk Russian friends in the back corner and the cloud of cigarette smoke looming swirling above their heads. Mordechai has assembled a collection of Jewish Azerbaijani cultural artifacts and is trying to build a museum to display them, with my grandfather serving as a translator and an advisor. He has been eternally grateful and tremendously hospitable, which was manifest on this particular night in a gratuitous feast with an endless stream of vodka and wine. The meal was a kind of perfect metaphor for the concept of an Old mentality in the New World. Here we sat in this regal restaurant, a throwback to an era of extreme, obsolete opulence, while our surrounding industrious environment ignored whatever romantic cultural ideals in which we indulged. My grandfather sat at the head of the table, clad in his usual uniform. He exchanged jokes with Mordechai in both Russian and Hebrew in between bites as the rest of my family sat and listened to Mordechai explain to us the history of the Bukharan Jews and of his family in between pours. From what limited Hebrew
I speak, it seemed very interesting, but I was more interested in the mountains of cabbage, beets, and endless dishes of chicken and lamb meat that somehow only grew larger the more I ate. One other topic I happened to catch was the Ulpa’an and its historical implications. The Ulpa’anim, which are still common today, are Hebrew schools for recent immigrants that were flooded during the massive Soviet Aliyah of the 1970s in which over a million people migrated. My father was the teacher at the Ulpa’an that Mordechai attended when he immigrated. The constant waves of massive immigration to Israel created a lack of a common language, the necessity of which was felt even in the beginning of the twentieth century. Most immigrants of this time, who came from a number of virulently anti-Semitic Eastern European countries, spoke a Jewish-German dialect called Yiddish. However, many others, namely of Asian and African origins, did not speak it. This conflict spawned an ideological war between the several linguistic camps. In one corner were the Yiddishists, and in another Frenchists, who benefitted from the language perceived elegance. There were even Germanists, labeling German the language of scientific progress. The Hebrewists, led by Eliezer Ben Yehuda, were considered the most fit for instilling linguistic Jewish unity, laying claim to the ancient millenary biblical language. They ultimately won, and you’ll now find a Ben Yehuda Street in every major Israeli town and city. This thriving culture of philosophy and philology is very important to me. I see it as a It is asignificant indicator of Israel’s previous national identity, when it stood at the intersection of a more exciting Jewish identity. As Israel attracted continuously increasing waves of European immigrants, so too did it assimilate into its worldview the nation-specific cultures of pre-World War II Europe to create a sophisticated global Jewish tradition. It is a culture with which I identify very strongly, to 16
great frustration. It has long become obsolete in America, which has recently dethroned Israel for the title of “largest Jewish population.” In Israel, it can be detected only under close analysis, having been replaced by a much more narrow, almost culturally xenophobic worldview.
Beyond a multi-linguist, Saba is also a virtual historical encyclopedia. Perhaps one of my favorite elements of my grandfather’s worldview and its zeitgeist that incubated it is his great respect for history. Out this outlook comes an honest and unpretentious understanding of the development of civilization, the major forces that drive man to create, and the human condition as a whole. When I was younger, I would brag to all my friends that my grandfather could discuss, at length, any historical event to have taken place within the past three thousand years. Having served as a diplomat in Scandinavia, he most recently recounted to me in detail the secret transfer of Danish Jews to Sweden, unbeknownst to the Swedes, to keep them safe from deportation from the Nazi-occupied Denmark to the extermination camps in Poland.
Several elements of the modern geography of Israel, such as its street names, are scattered clues of this identity. After dinner, my grandparents took me to an area around the intersection of Rehov Ibn-Gabirol and Rehov Dizengoff, one of the centers of nightlife in Tel Aviv. The latter street can be traced to the influence of European intellectual culture on the geography of pre-1948 Israel. Most Israeli cities were bankrolled by wealthy Europeans that shared the vision of Labor Zionism, and many of their most prominent streets bear the names of these wealthy families. Perhaps the most notable wealthy European donor during this time was the Baron Edmund Jacob Rothschild, who provided the funding for founding of numerous cities. Rothschild founded Zicron Jacob, a city that carries his name and is home to my aunt and uncle, with its intended central purpose as a winery—a function it still fills today. The township Mazkeret Batya (Batya’s Memorial) holds the Hebrew name of the Baron’s mother. There are also murals throughout the city that commemorate the Baron’s contributions. Until the 1930s, Tel Aviv was constructed in the same fashion as it had been founded by Azit Bayit. But it is known today as “the White City,” because of the new style introduced by a flow of German Jewish architects that built the city during the 1930s and 40s. Before they were chased by the Nazis, they had been trained at the modernist Bauhaus School closed by the Nazis in 1933. In 1937, Arie and his family moved from Petah Tikvah to one of these buildings, a Bauhaus flat with two bedrooms. His parents shared the Worker’s Quarter flat with his grandparents. He went on to live in numerous buildings in Tel Aviv, all of which were Bauhaus. For those well-versed 17
in architecture, the city must seem an enigma: buildings crafted from a distinctively German ideal on the Mediterranean coast, housing a mix of Semitic peoples. In the linguistic dilemma, my grandfather subtly seems to favor French, his favorite language. He met my grandmother when he worked as her French tutor in the Alliance French-Israeli high school. Later, after his military service, Arie got a scholarship to study in Paris, where my grandmother joined him. They got married, and my father was born there. French language and culture became part of their life, and they often speak French today and listen to a wealth of French music. I inherited from them a love for Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg and the chansons of the 1950s. He attended Piaf ’s final concert in Paris in 1963, further contributing to my childhood, and current, marvel at his life. On this particular trip, he also presented to my family his translation of an Umberto Eco novel from Italian to Hebrew.
Such worldliness and culture seems to be largely missing in modern Israeli culture. Most importantly, it is missing in the political vision of the nation’s leaders and general public. Every morning of our most recent trip, my brother and I discussed political affairs with my grandparents over breakfast, and the consensus was always the same. Gone are the days where a vision such as Labor Zionism sparked a migration of tens of thousands of Jews worldwide. Gone are the days when Israelis constructed their civilization around a more holistic worldview. Gone are the days when Zionism was just an idea. Kibutzim are no longer the socialist, principled communes they once were, and moshavim have been replaced by settlements in Palestinian territories. During this trip I had the opportunity to interview Yoram Kaniuk, an Israeli author who fought for the Palmach (Israel’s “freedom fighters”) in 1948. Kaniuk repeatedly expressed his confliction over the current state of Israel, and believes that had the founding fathers knew that Israel would be what it is today, they would not have fought so hard. As a modern entity, the state of Israel undeniably serves a function that differs greatly from that which it fulfilled in previous decades, and Yoram would be remiss were he to assume that the country’s
mission and corresponding values would develop in a consistently upward-moving, linear trajectory. While the identity of Israel is currently in a state of flux, it no longer possesses a certain dignity and resolve that colored its glory days. Kaniuk’s sentiments have been echoed by a significant group of disenchanted critics present during Israel’s founding. Such criticisms are, undeniably, very real. They pose a threat not only to the integrity of the state, but to its very existence. Several years prior to seeing Arie for his birthday, he and my grandmother came to visit my family in the New Jersey. One night, we rented No Country For Old Men. The film concludes with the retirement of Ed Tom Bell, a cop driven out of town by the murderer Anton Chigurh, who is violence incarnate. Saba’s interpretation of the movie honed in on the final scene, when Ed is eating breakfast and talking to his wife after just having retired. He laments the state of the world and his hometown where he had lived all his life, and that he could not understand the current lifestyle and culture. He was made obsolete by the times, and by the violence it created. As my grandfather interpreted the scene, it is reflective of a widespread phenomenon in older people. One day you wake up, surprised to find out that the world of your children and grandchildren differs from that which you believed to have molded. You discover, to your surprise, that you are a stranger in the universe, and that, indeed, the world surrounding you regards you as a stranger. In Israel this feeling is perhaps much sharper. Here two generations had been fighting for and realizing great new national, cultural and social ideals, and revolutionized the Jewish world. Now, at a certain moment, once an ideal becomes everyday reality, you can no longer expect people to consider it as such. Facing this situation, the older generations in Israel feel a disappointing void—where have their ideals gone? At the same time the younger generation wonders why it is accused of lack of idealism? And what, if any, ideals are left supposed to pursue? 18
t half past four in the afternoon, I finally arrived at Olney Hill Road, the dirt turnoff to Geordie Lynd’s farm outside of Cabot, Vermont.
The road immediately began to climb up a steep hill, winding to the right,
until a cluster of buildings, tractors, and animals appeared at the very top. A twostory farmhouse, a partially renovated stained barn and a run-down red garage with a tractor parked outside made a triangle around a small plot of land.
I drove my car inside the circle of buildings and parked it between a well-used pickup truck and a two-door Honda sedan. Before entering the house, I looked to the east back down the hill that I’d just come up and took in the view of the northern section of the Green Mountains. The setting sun and the low hanging clouds created a soft glow that illuminated the snow on the dark blue mountaintops. I had come to visit Geordie, who had graduated from Middlebury two years ago, because I had 19
heard he was one of the best fiddle players in New England. Geordie and his wife had started this farm the past summer, but it looked like it had been running for years. Dairy equipment, shovels, gasoline containers, and boots scattered the ground, and a couple dozen pigs meandered around them. I thought about bringing my violin inside with me—I brought it along hoping to learn some fiddle tunes from Geordie. But I decided instead to leave it in the
Luke Whelan Photos by Andrew Catomeris
car and get it later in order to avoid giving the impression that I was a serious musician. My parents forced me to take violin lessons when I was 8 years old. I did it, but not without making it as clear as possible how little I enjoyed practicing and how boring my lessons were. At one point, they made me join a Youth Symphony, but the clingy parents and antisocial kids freaked me out so much that my parents eventually let me quit. It wasn’t until joining my high school’s orchestra that I started to enjoy playing. Talented musicians, kids whose only musical experience had been in under-funded public school music programs, and people like me—somewhere in the middle—participated in it. Despite the disparity in skill, everyone in the orchestra loved playing music together, and I found the lack of ego and perfectionism refreshing. When I arrived at Middlebury after graduating high school, I joined the college orchestra but found there the same stuffiness I encountered in private lessons and at youth
symphony. I quit after that concert and hadn’t picked up my violin since, besides the few times I tried to learn some fiddle tunes from a friend. I found the notion of playing fiddle fresh and liberating. The instrument was the same, but all the fiddle players I knew seemed to genuinely care about their music and they got excited about it. Fiddle music was a communal; you could play it to set the mood at a gathering or to hack around with other musicians. Classical musicians practiced by themselves and only seemed to play with one another if they had to prepare for a concert or a recital. I thought learning the fiddle would be perfect for me. But I couldn’t get used to playing with an untightened bow nor could I refrain from using vibrato on every long note. Worst of all, I found it impossible to learn a song without sheet music. I hoped Geordie, who was around my age, would have some sort of insight or guidance to show me how to get past my rigid 20
classical training in order to enter the world of fiddle music and get excited about music again. As soon as I stepped into the white, vinylsided farmhouse, I started coughing. The front door opened directly into the kitchen, which was filled with smoke from ground pork that a blonde, bearded figure wearing a holey sweatshirt and muddy jeans was cooking in a cast-iron frying pan. The charred edges of the meat didn’t seem to deter him from making his sandwich: pork, cheese, and fried egg between two slices of homemade bread. After completing his creation, he looked up and said, “You must be Luke, then.” “Yeah, pleasure to meet you. Geordie, right?” “Yessir. Do you want a sandwich?” he asked holding up his and then setting it down right away to avoid dripping grease. On the two and a half hour drive north from Middlebury to Geordie’s farm in Cabot, I had
only eaten a few cheese samples from the visitor center at the Cabot Creamery’s factory just outside of town, where I briefly stopped to get directions. The smoky waft of pork made my stomach grumble. “You look hungry; I might as well make you one,” said Geordie before I could respond. He spoke slowly and deliberately in a New England growl that didn’t seem to suit his sheepish smile and medium sized frame. Geordie’s wife just then came into the room wearing a black beanie on top of her shoulderlength brown hair, a muddy “Oxford University” hoodie, and a pair of baggie Carhartt pants. She couldn’t have been more than 5’4’’ and she looked like she could still be in high school. “Hey, bud, about ready to get back to the cows?” she said before noticing I was there. “Emory, this is Luke. He came up from the College to ask me about my music,” Geordie said handing me a warm, juicy sandwich. Since graduating from Middlebury, Geordie and Emory had gotten married and started the North Wind Farm together in the cold, remote Northeast Kingdom. Neither grew up on a farm, but they each had experience working on them throughout college. Their parents uneasily accepted their decision to neglect their college degrees, and Emory’s father, a contractor, even helped Geordie renovate the barn, which hadn’t been used in over twenty years. They started working on the farm seven months earlier, in July, and began milking cows in September, but they had a long way to go and only themselves to do the work. Just then the phone rang and Geordie jumped to pick it up. “Hello? Hi! Yeah, I was expecting your call, m’aam. Yes I would be very interested in playing at your wedding. What’s that? Oh I’ve done it all. Well, I’m not saying I’ve done it all, but I’ve played a lot of styles in a lot of different situations.” As he spoke on the phone I took a look around the spacious room. To the right of the door
was the washing machine surrounded by racks of muddy coveralls, wool socks and a pair of Middlebury sweatpants. To the left, a pile of manure-caked boots cascaded out of a small shoe rack. Further down the left side of the wall, a small desk covered with engineering books opened to diagrams of barn lofts. Through the doorway into the room to the right of the kitchen, I could see a table with three or four violins and bows spread out among a couple of harmonicas and a banjo. “Sorry about that. That’s about as many calls as we get in a week around here,” he said after setting down the phone. “Do you get a lot of wedding gigs?” I asked. “Yeah, I try to pick them up when I can. Weddings, funerals, parties, contra dances. The best gigs are on St. Patrick’s Day at the ski bars. Not particularly enjoyable, but you make a lot of money. The farm is our main income though,” he said looking past me out
the window to the group of three or four pigs inspecting the foreign vehicle parked outside the house. “How do you make money on the farm? The cows?” “Yeah we got 70 head, and as of now we are milking 26 of them,” he said pointing across the way to the large stained barn. “The rest of them are still calves. We also got a whole bunch of pigs we slaughter and send off to get carved.” “Speaking of which, we should get out to them, bud. You’re welcome to come out to the barn and talk to us there if you like,” said Emory shifting her glance towards me. “Yeah, she’s right,” said Geordie. “We were just taking a break before our afternoon chores.” Just like every afternoon, they had to carry out the day’s second milking, scoop out the barn’s waste gutter, and lay down hay for the cows to sleep on. 22
All of a sudden, the cows turned their heads to the left in unison as Emory approached with hay she had thrown down from the loft above us for their dinner. “So what made you start playing the fiddle?” I asked finally. Geordie paused and looked up for a moment from the teat he was rubbing with iodine. “I’ve always loved the sound of the fiddle. Even before I knew what it was, I would look up at the radio whenever it would hear it.” He went on to describe the small town in New Hampshire he grew up in, and the community of old fiddle players he started spending time with when he was ten or eleven years old. “Now I wish I took more time to really get into each song I learned, but when I was that age, I couldn’t get enough songs, I had to learn them all.” I envied his precocious drive to learn music and wondered where he got it. “Did your parents play fiddle?”
As we walked out the door, Geordie grabbed a pair of coveralls from the drying rack by the washing machine and handed them to me. “You shouldn’t get dirty if you don’t try to, but I can’t guarantee you won’t get sprayed by something.” After entering the barn, I understood what he meant: dozens of cows stood in a line tethered to polls spanning each side of the dimly lit barn. At almost regular intervals, a tremendous stream of urine would gush to the dirt floor from the rear of a cow as if someone turned the handle of a spigot. Less often, a splatter of manure would interrupt the rhythmic sound of chomping hay. The smell of manure and straw, jarring at first, became comforting after a while. I watched Geordie as he disinfected the teats of the cow with an iodine mixture and then hooked up six metal heads to the udder. The heads were connected to a hose that transported the milk to a sterilization tank. 23
The milk would then picked up by a tanker truck and brought to a factory where it would be processed, packaged, and delivered. I’d never been so close to cows before, and the size of their physical features struck me, especially their massive jawbones. Several of them had swollen bellies (they had to be constantly bred to produce milk) that weighed down their guts causing the spine and ribs to protrude out of the skin stretched across their backs. I went up to a brown Holstein with big, brown eyes and eyelashes that curled up like in a cartoon. “That’s Dolly, she’s my favorite,” said Geordie noticing me trying to pet her flinching snout. “What makes her your favorite?” “Farmers shape up cows like, you know, guys shape up girls. She’s just a nice lookin’ creature. She also has a nice temperament and gives a lot of milk.”
“They were musical, they sang and played guitar. But the fiddle was something I took to on my own.” “What style of fiddle did you learn to play?”
He paused for a second as he detached the milking machine from a cow to bring to the next one. “So what’s the music scene in New England now? Is there a community you play with?” “It’s still a big part of these communities, especially contra dances. And I have several people I regularly play with: some live in the area, others I’ve known for ten or twelve years since I started. A lot of fiddlers are in-house bands for contra dances or pubs, and those groups play with each other on their own a lot too. Sometimes I’ll drop in on jams like those in someone’s living room, those are fun.” At about eight o’clock, Geordie and Emory finished their chores, and we walked back into the house. On the way, I stopped to get my violin out of the trunk of the car, hoping to play some tunes with Geordie. When I entered the house Geordie sat with Emory around the oak table in the middle of the room tuning up his fiddle. His violin was made out of a pale spruce and he clearly took care of it, except for the strings caked with white rosin dust from his bow, which I knew would tarnish the finish on the wood if he didn’t rub it off.
The fiddle and the violin are the same instrument; technique gives each its identity.
“New England dance music mainly.” He explained this was a blend of styles from Irish, Scottish and Quebecois immigrants flooding New England mill towns looking for work in factories during the 19th century. Many of the songs originated as preradio pop hits in the elite social circles of the big northeastern cities the immigrants came from. But, Geordie said, “Eventually the music would go north to the farms and small towns of New England, and take on a new shape and meaning up there. That’s where it got its association with rural people and hardship, that we think of today. Music was precious to them, it’s all they really had.”
“Why don’t you play him something, hun?” Emory asked.
“Alright, alright. This one is a real New England standard: it’s called ‘Petronella.’” He set his instrument carefully on his chest just beneath his left shoulder. He then held the bow up to the string, paused a second, and started playing, his foot instinctively tapping to the 4/4 time. From a classical musician’s point of view, there were so many things wrong with his technique. He let his violin slide off of his shoulder, he gripped the bow too high up, and the palm of his hand came up too close to the neck of the violin, almost touching it. I cringed a little when I saw him tapping his foot, remembering years of admonishment for keeping rhythm 24
with my legs instead of developing an internal rhythm, as was expected. But this was all standard fiddle technique. The fiddle and the violin were the same instrument; the technique gave each one its identity. His rich sound and playful slurs and slides made me forget his form after a few seconds. He looked toward the ground, too shy to make eye contact with Emory or me, but he couldn’t hold back a faint smile while he played. “That was great,” I said when he finished, “was that a jig or a reel?” “That’s a reel: you can tell by the 4/4 time. A jig is 6/8. But both of them have real strong, blatant beats because they are meant to be danced to. Almost all New England folk music is meant to be played unamplified at contradances, so it’s adapted to be really loud and bold. Normally it’s only accompanied by a bouncy dink-donky piano. But as a result, it can be pretty plain compared to the syncopated rhythms and embellishments of Quebecois and old time music. And it doesn’t have the melodic qualities of Irish music.” As a result, he explained, New England music has been relatively neglected—only heard in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. On the other hand, genres like old time music (and the Bluegrass style that evolved from it), which came from a fusion of Scots-Irish “hillbilly” music and the gospel songs of the slaves in the south, lent itself better to performance and recording, and had gained a mainstream appeal during the second half of the twentieth century. He played an old time song for me, but at the end he said, “I don’t really play old time though. I’ve tried ‘em all, but I don’t think you can play them all without losing something.” “How do you mean?” “Talent is cheap. Nowadays there are people everywhere that can play all the different styles. What really makes a fiddle player good is when he can immerse himself in the tradition and really capture the rhythm of it. You can just tell when you come across a real fiddler; he makes the music pop the way these most of these 25
prodigies you find at the fiddle festivals around here can’t. And to do that you got can’t be playing all different styles and adding in bongo drums and all this. Of course, I’m really picky about my fiddle music. I like my traditional music traditional. ‘Pure quill,’ that’s what they call it around here. In Ireland they call it ‘pure drop,’ and I think in Quebec they call it ‘pur laine,’ or ‘pure wool.’ “So can someone like me ever be like that not growing up with it? What style would I even choose?” “Well that’s the problem: this is the generation when everyone’s listened to everything. Before, there would be the one fiddler living out in the cabin in the woods, and he would be the only person you could learn from, so you would learn his style. Now you can download music off the Internet for free. “But it doesn’t matter if you’ve grown up with it. A lot of these grown up hippies moved from the cities ‘back to the land’ in the 60’s and 70’s and picked up fiddle, but they’ve been playing
for 30 years now, and no one remembers where they’ve come from. If you can play, you can play. You just have to choose a style and immerse yourself in it.” As Geordie started to play another jig, it occurred to me that he, like many fiddle players, held his violin down almost on his chest because he didn’t have to shift up into higher positions to play complicated notes and scales in high octaves or reach up for tricky harmonics. The notes themselves were relatively easy. I’m sure the notes of the hardest fiddle tune would not compare to those of the concertos I worked on in my violin lessons. But the key to the fiddle did not lie in mastery of technique or in fancy notes. Geordie couldn’t read music and didn’t have to because, unlike classical music, what it took to master the fiddle music could never be notated or copied. Instead, the soul of the fiddle had to be discovered within each person who played it. One Saturday night, back at Middlebury, my friend Max and I tried playing music again. He
brought out his guitar and started playing an old-time song about “a poor boy a long way from home.” I started trying to harmonize with his deep voice and steady guitar chords. At first I couldn’t get past my self-consciousness; I had no idea what I was doing. But I started trying some slides into third and fifth chords that Max would pause and show me how to do. Soon, I would figure out a couple notes that went with the chorus, and anxiously waited for him to return to it to play them again. I slowly gained confidence and went for higher notes and more complicated slurs. Many of them did not work and I would giggle at the dissonance, but Max wouldn’t even look up: it didn’t matter. He would just continue strumming: “Look where the sun done gone, look where the sun done gone.” But every once in a while, it would work. My note would fit perfectly into the rhythm and harmony of Max’s chord. It felt like nailing an arpeggio in a concerto, better even. When that happened, Max would look up, smile and give me a nod. 26
magine a land crisscrossed with water canals more complicated than
the deep etches on the back of your head. Here, the canals weave and intertwine
with one another; the long thin reeds that define them offer mere illusions of
order; this land is a veritable maze. The Okavango delta is a water-world Shangri-la situated in the driest and most cracked country in Southern Africa: Botswana. This
land, and my home, is perhaps one of the most untouched wildernesses left on our planet and remains largely unknown.
W at e r w ay s in the Dust by M o r ag M c K e n z i e
I remember the first time my eyes caught a glimpse of this mysterious, reed-shrouded wilderness. I was about two-feet tall and sat with my nose glued to the window of the minute chartered airplane. The only way to get into the heart of the delta is with these flimsy planes that whirr through the air like manmade mosquitoes. These miniature planes only reaffirm the immensity of the Okavango. And yet, despite the vastness of the delta, what struck me the most were the tiny mysteries which, heightened by my childâ€™s eyes, became wonders.
of these frogs acts to remind me to never over look the things that at first seem small and unimportant, because they are sometimes the most beautiful. The delta is hidden within Botswana and so has managed to somewhat elude the outside world. Perhaps the fact that it is so hard to reach may be why this wonderland has remained so concealed. And yet, it is the beating heart of the Kalahari desert because it supports not only the largest Elephant population in the
To me, there was nothing more compelling than the spaces inbetween the reeds, the spaces which held the unknown and the unknowable. These empty spaces between the reeds left an uncanny feeling, a feeling that reminds you that this is no cookie-cutter corn maze. Beneath the placid surface of the water lie the lazy, unblinking eyes of crocodiles and the bonecracking jaws of hippopotamuses. And yet, one of the most incredible things I noticed was not the giant wildlife, but one of the smallest and most out of sight creatures. Called reed frogs, they cling to the reeds that carve out the water paths. Tiny, green and deeply overlooked, I would pluck these miniature amphibians from their reeds and let them settle on my fingers just for a moment, before they leaped back to their green haze. Now, the memory 28
world but also five hundred and thirty bird species, one hundred and fifty-five reptile species, one hundred and sixty mammal species and thirty-five amphibian species. It is not only home to vast varieties of animal and plant life, but also five different ethnic groups: the Hambukushu, Dceriku, Wayeyi, Bugakhwe and the Llanikhwe. These people live in the delta and the Okavango and its’ ecosystem is not only their homeland but its resources are essential to their survival, as the fresh water of the delta supports the lives of these 120 000 people. Therefore, it is imperative that the delta be preserved not only for the animals and plants but also for the people of the delta. The Delta can be categorized with the other great biodiversity areas on our planet: the Amazon, the Congo and the Mesoamerican forests. And, like the indigenous people in these areas, the people of the Delta have lived in the heart of the Kalahari Desert for centuries, and they alone understand the comprehensive ecosystem and waterways. Their knowledge is specific, yes, but it is also incredibly valuable to further understanding the intricate maze of the Delta. And, as the Delta is one of the most diverse ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa, a real understanding of the channels is important in increasing knowledge of the wetlands and, of the people who live there. However, now the delta is being threatened. The Namibian government is talking of introducing a new hydropower station that would limit the water supply to the region, effectively cause a blockage in the veins of this great heart. Namibia is considering the hydropower station as a renewable and efficient energy resource. However, implementing hydropower stations could cause great damage to the water system by blocking the Okavango river and, which might even reduce the river to a mere dribble, harming the Vena Cava of Botswana’s great ecosystem. Limiting the water supply to the area would dramatically alter the wetland and could potentially destroy its flourishing ecosystem - not to mention, 120 000 people could be without fresh water. 29
Clearly, the Delta is a deeply important and essential biodiversity area and as such, should be called the heart of sub-Saharan Africa. And yet, the Delta is, unbelievably, not a UNESCO World Heritage Site and so is, as of yet, unprotected. However, if the Delta were named a UNESCO World Heritage site, then any potential problems or damages to the site would be thwarted and the hidden world would remain protected for generations. We shall find out if the Delta reaches World Heritage Status come 2014. In the mean time, open your eyes to one of Africa’s greatest treasures. Realize that beauty and nature like the Okavango delta need to be protected, because they are the remaining wonders in our world.
“PROGRESS WILL KILL US” Illustrations and text by Levi Westerveld
So, take the time to look closer at the spaces inbetween the reeds and perhaps you might find your metaphorical reed-frog somewhere – an incredible beauty which returns you to a state of child-like wonder, because in the end, life is simply dull without the acknowledgement of beauty.
Human history in the Valley of the Dordogne, France, dates back 25,000 years to when local Homo sapiens were hunting, fishing and painting incredible art on Dordogne’s cave walls. Over the years, generations of humans and their interactions with the local environment have shaped the space’s identity. One of the more recent generations of humans, a retired cohort of native farmers, holds the last bit of knowledge about traditional farming approaches in the region. Traditional farming, a dying practice, will soon, like the cave art, belong only to the valley’s history. The younger farmers are now completely reliant on
the machinery utilized by the industrialized agriculture movement: they own larger lands, bigger tractors, and higher debt. These changes in farming practices are slow, and the older generations of farmers describe it as destiny. Furthermore, growing tourism in the region has begun replacing farming as the local economy. The transformations are not challenged. They are accepted. But the value of traditional farmers’ participation in creating the gorgeous identity of the Dordogne is immeasurable, which I did not fully grasp until I left Dordogne and began living in the United States. Only after being away a year 30
and looking at the Dordogne from a different vantage point do I realized the significance of the transition phase we are in. I returned home this winter with the goal of seizing, through the interviews of retired farmers, how the change in agriculture practices has shaped the new identity of the Dordogne over the last hundred years. I biked to Monsieur Albert’s house unannounced on a Saturday morning hoping that he would be home. I had never met him before, but always saw him working in his field on the way to elementary school. When I arrived he was watering the small oak trees he had recently planted. We sat down around the table inside his house, the same, he told me, on which he had butchered a wild boar the previous weekend. When I asked him about the benefits of human progress he said referring to an older native: “If he was still alive he would be 125 years old now. When I was young he told me: ‘Progress will kill us.’ And, well, he was probably right.” I am still unsure if by “us” he meant humans or the farmer community, perhaps both. Suited to the hilly valley terrain of the Dordogne, tractors started replacing horses after World War II when they became more affordable. This change goes hand in hand with the increased land owned by individual farmers, for though bigger tractors allow them to work more efficiently, they also force them to work more in order to pay off expensive equipment. In 50 years, typical farm size has grown from 20 to 30 to 125 hectares. As such, there are fewer farmers, and the small remaining ones are outcompeted by the larger neighbors and ultimately forced to sell their land. The shift towards industrialized agriculture has not only increased plantation size but also begun threatening local biodiversity through the extensive use of pesticides. The loss of ecotones between small cultivations of wine, sunflowers, corn, and wheat, correlates with the decreasing population of rabbits and woodcock, and ultimately wild boar and deer. This not only negatively impacts the biodiversity 31
of the region, but also the important hunting tradition upheld by farmers. Every Sunday, most farmers in the region go hunting for the whole day. Though the actual hunting takes only a few hours, the ritual takes longer, because they spend the rest of the day discussing local politics, drinking wine from their own production, and eating smoked ham and bread. They stand 40 meters apart from each other along the roadside: distinctive hats on their heads, rifles strapped around their backs. At the end of the day they load into their old Citroën 2CV to look for the dogs that got lost running after the game. Recently, hunting regulations have become more severe and complicated, and each animal, according it its size, sex, and geography, is assigned a specific time during which it can be hunted. The farmers that I interviewed often joke that there are more guards implementing regulations than there is game. Additionally, the price of the average hunting license has increased from $50 to over $300, and consequently younger generations are less keen on keeping up this tradition central to the farming community. The introduction of tractors into agriculture has changed the social life of farmers in other ways as well. Before, farmers would all work on the same farm together, rotating farms daily, in order to maximize efficiency during harvest season. Working together was quite enjoyable, and led farmers to depend on one another during the harvest season; this dependency in turn fostered the development of strong social bonds. These tight bonds also kept them from creating trouble in the village or rivalries with one another. Monsieur Pemendrant, one of the eight farmers I interviewed, recalls the day when he learnt that one farmer had been cheating with another farmer’s wife. When the rumor spread, no one was interested in contributing labor to that farmer. Because he could not do all the work on his farm alone, he was forced to leave the region and settle elsewhere. The problems between the farmers from a region were dealt with in the fields. Nowadays, the tractor that made everything ‘easy’ has also made such connections difficult:
farming has become individualistic and competitive. The popularization of television additionally served to reinforce this individualistic lifestyle. Spaces that farmers had created to connect with each other slowly disappeared, as nights playing card games at each other’s house were replaced by evenings watching television. Similarly, the decline of church attendance meant that farmers had less opportunity to converse and connect. In Dordogne, we have gone from more priests than churches, to more churches than priests. And that is not all. In the 1950s, there were four agricultural shows in Le Bugue, a nearby town. Farmers from all over the region congregated in the day to sell products and livestock and in the light to go to the bar, discuss local issues. My neighbor Monsieur Fort puts it like this: “It was an opportunity for the Jacque and for the Paul to catch up on each other’s life.” This opportunity no longer exists: an annual motorbike show, frequented largely by tourists, replaced it. Some tourists like the Dordogne so much that they decide to buy property in the region and renovate or build a new house. Their contribution to the space’s identity often conflicts with the farmers’ more tradition vision.
In Toulouse, a large city in the south of France, a farmer was put on trial by his neighbor who complained about the noise of his rooster in the morning. Similarly, in the Lot-et-Garonne, a department in the south of the Dordogne, a breeder was fined $6,000 because the smell of his cows distracted neighbors. These two examples show how the perception of farmers in society is not particularly positive, especially since they became a minority group. The farmers complain about the ugly new houses that ‘grow like mushrooms’ and some of their new foreign neighbors that won’t learn French. One farmer told me: “and now, there is the homosexual marriage. My wife and I we are against that, if they can adopt a child, who will play the role of the dad, or of the mother?” This conservative opinion that often conflicts with the immigrant populations’ ideals underlines the complexity of this space. However, there are some exceptions to my examples of farmers struggling with the new populations. The Dutch, and to some extent, the British, constitute the biggest group of tourists in the region. If you drive on the roads between June and August you will be surprised to see that more than half of the license plates are foreign. For me, growing up with two Dutch parents in this region has put 32
me in a position to better understand both sides. While I have both a Dutch and a French nationality I do not strongly identify with either countries. In the Dordogne I was never treated like an outsider but never felt entirely French either. I remember during the summer in my childhood, Monsieur Fort, the neighboring farmer, would take my brother Stan and I cutting the hay in the fields in the summer. In the fall, he would take us to the vineyard and help him harvest grapes for his wine. Stan and I would take our shoes off, climb in a large wooden barrel, and trample on the grapes with our feet. I am grateful for Monsieur Fort for introducing us to his knowledge’s of this placeincluding the land, climate, and animals-that has been passed down by many generations of farmers. Looking back, I think it is his love for the valley of the Dordogne that drove him to introduce two foreign boys, my brother and I, to the environment. When I ask about the future of agriculture in my neighborhood the only response is that there is none. The hilly topography combined with the restrictions in size and location of cultivations because of tourism, makes it impossible for farmers to effectively cultivate over very large areas of land. The older generation laments that new farmers learn their skills in schools with strong focus on modern techniques, GMOs, pesticides, and herbicides, but little premium on practical exposure. Monsieur Andre, on the other hand, told me that when he was young he learnt all his skills from his dad on the farm: he saw a tree growing from small to tall. Many think the simplicity of this life superior. Monsieur Fort dreams of going back 200 years to see what farming in the region looked like at that time… to see where the fields were located, what was cultivated, and what the climate was like. He says life is not better than it was 50 years ago. Though we are more efficient, we have hot showers, and bathrooms, the life of the Dordogne farmer has become more stressful, individualistic, and filed with administrative work. “Your generation,” he says, “is born with the cellphones and computers; you do things faster he says. A house that doesn’t have a 33
dishwasher is a weird house, but the quality of life has really gone down.” *** Monsieur Pemendrant’s 80-year-old grandfather discovered the cave of Bernival in 1898. In the winter, as he was walking in the woods, a landslide had opened a small hole in the ground through which water vapor raised out. Inside the cave he found a history treasure: over 100 paintings and carvings dating from 12, 000 to 14, 000 BC, including some the very rare image of a human face. The farmer accompanied me and a few other tourists to this cave that is now recognize as part of the French heritage. During the visit Monsieur Pemendrant explained that he found the place so special that he wants to share the experience with anybody interested. The experience was like nothing else. This is the only cave I visited that had not been severely redesigned to facilitate tourist access. He lighted the calcareous walls with a hold lamp powered by a battery he carried around in a worn out leather bag. The five of us had to bend and squeeze, and did not come out of the cave as clean as we came in. Maybe because of it, my understanding of the meaning of the art was exceptionally profound. Sometimes you have a moment of deep realization of something very simple, but it suddenly appears as extremely profound. Humans were here 15,000 years ago. 15,000 years ago! Drawing and leaving behind what is for me the most inspiring artwork. Likewise, the retired cohort of native farmers has left on my understanding of the identity of the valley of the Dordogne an indelible mark. With the end of this farming generation their particular way of living and interacting with the local environment comes to a close as the region’s attributes are molded to satisfy an expanding tourist market. This serves as more of an observation than a critique. However I do hope that my generation – native or foreign – will be able to integrate into our lives some of the values honored by the women and men who carved the fields of this valley with their bodies and souls. 34
describe my hometown, I start with the name because Kailua has the sense of
place already embedded in it: kai in Hawaiian means water and e’lua means two.
By Kiana Cateriano Map designed by Matt Whitley
A new American place
New Target Store
The two waters are the Pacific Ocean and Ka’elepulu pond. Nowhere in Kailua is farther than a couple of miles from water.
When asked about my island roots I get frustrated because it’s hard for me to sum up a place so complicated in just a few sentences. It’s true, Hawa’ii is an extremely beautiful place, but it is also a place where people live, die, work, and yes, even commit crimes. The 50th state is in these ways often forgotten, something the residents both love and hate. Moving past the surfacelevel understanding of Hawa’ii, we focus on the residential beach town, Kailua. Kailua lies on what locals call the winward or the East side of O’ahu. Mainly constructed of nice suburbs, a neighborhood in Kailua is similar to those in the continental United States. But like most things in Kailua, mainstream American culture doesn’t last long as it is tweaked to the locals liking. The suburbs are no exception, their distinctly 70’s architecture reflects American culture, yet not quite as they are outdated and almost rundown from the heavy weathering salt air has on houses. Outdoor showers to wash off sand, plumeria trees in the front yard, and the rust found on all houses add to what distinguishes as house in Kailua from anywhere else.
was born and raised in the town of Kailua, Hawa’ii. When asked to
time are they are the most adamant protestors of what they see as unnecessary change. The town desperately wants to cling on to when Kailua was simpler and quieter. One of the main ways in which the people of Kailua try to protect the past is by championing the preservation of Kailua beach. Ranked one of the most beautiful in the world, Kailua beach is a source of pride and collective identity for locals. The beach’s white soft sands and clear blue waters with mild surf make the beach a perfect communal space. Families spend time together on the sand, children learn to surf, and teenagers hang out. The heavy use by Kailuans makes the beach a treasured local space, a space where outside influence is epecially looked down upon. This attitude towards the beach can be directly linked to the “keep Kailua Kailua” movement. The main agenda of the movement is blocking the construction of a Target in the town center, despite protests and the allegation that it is being built on an ancient Hawaiian burial ground. In 2011, the grocery store Don Quijote, having been accepted by the locals despite it technically being a chain,
The beach’s white soft sands and clear blue waters with mild surf make the beach a perfect communal space.
The surrounding geography also helps to differentiate Kailua; the whole west side of the town borders the dramatic Ko’olau mountain range formed from volcanoes. The mountains are spectacularly lush, and typify what one would expect to find on a tropical island. This natural beauty helps to slow the pace of life in Kailua. Although the town is becoming noticeably more urban, the locals are the last and first to admit this “problem”. On the one hand, Kailuans refuse to believe that their home is changing. Yet, at the same
went out of business and the Target was set to be built in its place. The opening line of the local Honolulu Star-Advertiser reads, “Kailua residents yesterday said goodbye to a family friend and lamented the loss of an era when their town was simpler and slower”. The store is referred to as an “old friend”, forced to leave 36
by outsiders. Residents of Kailua echoed this view; when interviewed they spoke of how Target “won’t have the same community feel.” Another person saying “[Kailua is] very touristy,” and “Kailua’s changed a lot. It’s become more like the mainland or Waikiki”. While the individual interviewed does not explicitly say that the mainland and Waikiki are negative places, he recognizes how Kailua is becoming more like those places and this change is viewed as negative. The people of Kailua take pride in the fact that Kailua is separate and different from Waikiki. Having lived in Kailua my whole life, I think of the two as distinctly separate and had to be reminded when looking at the map that Waikiki was just 12 miles from downtown Kailua. The Ko’olau Mountains, which physically stand between these two towns, help the people imagine the distance as much greater, as one cannot see one place from the other. The mountains help to solidify the Kailua identity, and make Kailua distinctly windward, and Waikiki distinctly leeward.
As a whole, the people of Kailua resent their proximity to Waikiki and affiliation with the United States or as locals say, the “mainland”, playing upon the physical separation of the two places in order to further a separate identity. The people of Kailua protested the construction of a new Target because to them it is a physical representation of their own identity changing.; a physical representation of mainland influence which one woman simply put “just doesn’t belong here”. This resistance of exterior influence can make Kailua seem like an anti-American place, as the people do not subscribe or particularly like traditional American culture. I argue however, that Kailua is an example of a “new” American place, one that is not solely American, but a blend of American and the diverse culture of Hawa’ii. Although I like to think of Kailua as unique, I know there are thousands of other unique towns all over the United States, places just like Kailua, while not traditional; they constitute “new” American places.
Hearing History Hillary Chutter-Ames
anks roll down packed dirt roads. Rubble covers the streets in front of bombed-out buildings; survivors covered in blood and dust search for loved ones. The flickering images on the screen stand in stark contrast
with the pale walls of the exhibition. I’m standing on the fourth floor of the Georgian National Museum in Tblisi, in a permanent exhibition also known as the Museum of Soviet Occupation.
I’m watching a video montage of the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict in South Ossetia, which makes no attempt to disguise the parallels between the Soviet era and the present day. The footage depicts scenes of Georgia’s past and present, only now the Russian military uniforms are in bright Technicolor. We pause in front of a cafe in Old Tbilisi. “KGB: Still Watching You,” proclaims the sign. Soviet relics abound in Georgia. Or maybe a year in Moscow has placed a red-tinted lens in front of my vision during this ten-day trip. *** We leave Tbilisi the next morning. We pile into a van with Armand, our trusty driver, and Father Ilya, a Georgian priest and family friend of our program director. Our destination is uncertain as we set off on a three-day journey to experience Georgia’s national treasures. That
is, we are visiting monasteries and sampling mineral water. We leave Tblisi, heading east. Father Ilya, our unconventional guide, speaks Georgian, Russian and a bit of English. Armand claims he only speaks Georgian, but I see him laugh at one of my jokes. As we enter Barjomi, Father Ilya asks Armand to pull over near a pharmacy. I don’t understand all of the words, but he’s asking Armand to buy him some opiates. We stay the night in a tiny village outside of Barjomi, a region renowned for its mineral water. Father Ilya sits in the common room until long after we’ve gone to bed. We emerge the next morning to find him sitting in his underwear, a syringe on the arm of the chair. Three empty liters of beer and two empty cigarette packets lie on the ground next to him. Father Ilya says he couldn’t sleep, offhandedly as only those who suffer from chronic pain and insomnia do. We grin at each other over the beer and cigarettes, but there is more discomfort than derision in our smirks. Americans talk about depression only in hushed whispers, if at all. *** We need a present for our hosts, relatives of Father Ilya’s who live in the mountains half a day’s drive from Tbilisi. Armand pulls over on the road to Barjomi. He’s seen a flock of lambs by the roadside. Meat is the perfect host gift, Father Ilya explains. Armand wants to strap the lamb, bleating and very much alive, to the roof of the van. But we, Americans brainwashed by PETA, put our feet down. I don’t point out that industrial meat in the U.S. is a much less civilized affair. The prospects of that conversation are akin to convincing Father Ilya to stop smoking. No matter how many times I explain that I have asthma (a necessary but patent untruth), Father Ilya continues his chain smoking. Armand has been so thoroughly cowed by our protestations that we drive off without the lamb. Or so we thought. When we climb into the car the next morning, we realize where Armand
drove off to last night. He drove back to the flock of sheep on the roadside, where he and the farmer slit the throat of one of the lamps before bundling the carcass into a translucent plastic bag. I know it was a translucent plastic bag because it is now sitting under my seat. Will, our coordinator, chastises us for missing such an essentially Georgian experience. I sit in in the van with the windows that refuse to budge, overdramatically coughing in a passiveaggressive attempt to get Father Ilya to stop smoking. With every twist and turn in the road, the headless carcass of the lamb bumps into the back of my ankles. *** Father Ilya doesn’t understand why we want to visit Gori, Stalin’s birthplace. Surely we would rather see more monasteries instead? Having politely declined a tour of our eighth and ninth monasteries in two days, we set off for Gori. The museum is a relic, a veritable shrine to Stalin that the government has halfheartedly attempted to convert into a memorial to the victims of the Stalinist era. The converted museum will reopen in 2009, a sign reads. Well, it’s May of 2012 and not much as changed.
Our tour leads us through rooms filled with paintings of Stalin, his personal possessions. We file silently through a round room, hushed as if paying homage to the bust of Stalin at its center. Our silence feels complicit. There is still a sense of pride among the residents of Gori, pride accompanied by a sort of selective amnesia of Stalin’s forced deportations, show trials and labor camps. Perhaps it is less a selective amnesia and more of an inability to overcome years of a cult of personality that cast Stalin as the father of a nation. Later that year, back in the U.S., I read in the New York Times that Gori’s municipal council has voted to reinstate a monument to Stalin in the town center. I think of the rooms in the museum, frozen in time. *** The houses along the main street in Gori are pockmarked, providing a reminder of the shelling that threatened residents in the 2008 South Ossetian Crisis. Tanks rolled down the main street when Russian forces invaded as far south as Gori.
We look to the north, into the mountains. If we drove ten miles north we’d be in South Ossetia, Will remarks. Ten miles to the border. This border is not a national one, but some claim it should be. Ten miles to one the many conflicts still simmering along the borders of the former Soviet republics. Russian tanks are not a grandfather’s memory in Gori, but the reality of teenagers, of children. *** Back in Tbilisi, I’m buying my ticket at the Georgian National Gallery. When the woman compliments my Russian, I don’t know how to react. Should I thank her, proud of my lightly accented Russian? Should I apologize for not speaking Georgian? I am glad to offer something other than American English. But I have merely traded one imperialist language for another. *** The new presidential palace in Tblisi glitters atop a hill, facing the ruins of an ancient fortress in the old town. The palace is actually set above the winding narrow streets and short old houses of Old Tblisi. A gleaming new bridge crosses the river in between, connecting the two banks, a path from the old to the new. Tblisi residents not-so-affectionately refer to it as the president’s diaper, as the folds of the bridge swaddle the walkway over the river. In Georgia, you are never far from Russia. It’s not the proximity to the border as much as the proximity to history, to wars and crises and the imperial legacy that overshadows a vibrant national identity. It’s the overlay and interaction of republics and nations and empires that have risen and fallen. But Georgia is full of its own music and art and food and wine. The mountains around Tblisi are greener than my Green Mountains at home, and just as beautiful. I’ve learned to eat khinkali, little steamed dumplings, with my fingers, sucking all of the juice out in the first bite. I’ve consumed more cheesy khachapuri than any other bread in my life, which is saying something. The winding streets of Old Tblisi 41
beckon just as new office buildings stretch the city to the northwest. It’s impossible to think of Georgia only in the context of its identity as a former Soviet republic. Yet I find myself looking for the connections to what I know, what I’ve studied. *** These hills, these mountains remain unchanged. Monasteries watch over each valley and village as they have done for centuries. But he people of these mountains and valleys have not evaded the ebb and flow of history over their landscape. I am overwhelmed by all that I do not know, by a land and a people that have lived the history I read about. Everything I thought I knew, I read in a history book. Well, maybe I watched a documentary or two. In Georgia I reach out to touch history. I taste it and hear it and speak it. Now it’s real for me, too. But no matter how many new Russian words I learn, I understand little more than I ever have.
Lost in Transmission writing and photos by Syd Schulz
he funny part was when the muffler fell off somewhere on I-70
in Indiana during a snowstorm. It was one of those snowstorms where everything is grey–the ground, the sky, the air. I was driving, because
everything bad happened while I was driving. And it was funny because crawling under your car in a slush puddle on the side of a major interstate is one of two things and funny is preferable. To be fair, my self-sacrificing boyfriend Macky was doing the crawling and I was playing the ever important and somewhat less wet roll of photographer. (Because we live in a digital age and posting about your suffering on Facebook makes everything better.) Mufflers are non-essential so we shoved it in a trash bag and carried on. Admittedly, having a muffler is nice for long drives, especially if you have intentions of talking to your driving partner, but we compensated by screaming and turning up the stereo until the speakers crackled in complaint. By the time we hit Missouri, six or seven hours later, we were in great spirits and could barely even hear the roar anymore. A few hours outside of Kansas City, Missouri, there was a beautiful sunset, I was driving again, and I was having a wonderful time. And then, with the sort of cosmic timing usually reserved for B-movies, the sun slid behind the horizon and the car sputtered to a halt. We rattled into a truck stop on Rt J, exit 186, just outside of Marshall, Missouri. Smoke poured out from under the hood and some sort of fluid formed ominous puddles beneath the car. It was not going to be a good night. We called for a tow truck and we waited. And waited. We ate at Burger King. We instagrammed our plight. We contemplated going to the Adult Video
Store across the street. Or perhaps the Lion’s Den Gentlemen’s club just down the road. We chickened out. We had contests to see who could stand on one foot for longer. Macky won. The tow truck arrived and sputtered to a halt with a puff of smoke that did not inspire confidence. “My boss says this truck has just got the hiccups,” the driver said as he climbed down from the cab. “But I’m like nawwwww there’s gotta be something wrong with it.” He was a tall, bearded man and he didn’t speak much after this introduction, which was probably a good thing, as he was already driving 80 mph, smoking with one hand, texting with the other, the steering wheel clenched between his elbows. We stopped at a
And then, with the sort of cosmic timing usually reserved for B-movies, the sun slid behind the horizon and the car sputtered to a halt. gas station so he could buy a diet coke and a bag of red licorice twists. He was “swamped,” he said, four calls had come in right after ours, he’d be up all night. I asked how long his shift was. He laughed, “24/7, whenever there’s a call.” We unloaded the car an hour later at a Firestone in Blue Springs, Missouri, the only 42
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car repair place in a hundred mile radius that was open on Sundays. We hitched up our bags, preparing to hike, but the driver insisted we get back in the truck. He’d take us to a Quality Inn a bit down the road. “I want to do good by ya’ll,” he said as we clambered back in. “Ya’ll gonna have a long week.” This turned out to be a prescient comment. Our saga was just beginning. The next morning, our mechanic at the Firestone was a boy named Noel. He might have been twenty but probably not. He had a wispy blond goatee and a penchant for sighing and excessive blinking. When he opened his mouth, strings of saliva connected his top teeth to his bottom and he stumbled on his words. He couldn’t fix the car. He brought us under the car and pointed to a lot of different parts. It was a drive shaft seal that had gone on us, allowing all the transmission fluid to leak out. “It’s leaking so bad,” he said, “you’d have to one of you drive while the other a you sits on the hood and pours in fluid, that’s how bad it’s leaking.” Probably the transmission was screwed too, Noel said. If it were him he’d go to the Pick 43
‘n Pull and find a new seal and then he’d fix it himself, but that’s him and he knows cars and he’s got all his own tools. He looked at us doubtfully. It could take days to order that seal, heck, they’d probably have to get it from the dealership, and then, here he lowered his voice, they’d charge 97 dollars an hour and who knows how long it would take and then you still wouldn’t know about the transmission. I asked the question. “Do you freelance?” Noel blinked in such quick succession that his eyes screwed closed. “Firestone, they frown on that. They don’t like it when we do that.” He shifted from side to side and looked up at the bottom of the car. He blinked some more and hummed to himself. I realized I was getting transmission fluid in my hair. Macky and I conferred briefly and decided that if we were going to scrap the car and start hitch-hiking we were going to do so on full stomachs. We left the car with Noel and headed out in search of food. Suburban Kansas city is not a pedestrian friendly place so this involved a lot of darting across six-lane interstates and crawling over pylons. We didn’t find food but we did find an Auto Zone Store that happened
to have the seal we needed. We bought the seal and brought it back to Noel, who seemed confused but agreed to put it in. We ate some bagels and were, for a very brief period, optimistic. Noel and his boss, Charlie, herded us back into the garage. They had more bad news. It wasn’t the seal after all, but rather the U-joint, or something like that. They couldn’t fix the car. That’s how we ended up at a place called Certified Transmission in another strip mall suburb of Kansas City with no crosswalks and no sidewalks and no food. They couldn’t fix the car either. They took the plate off the transmission and showed us all the metal flakes that had collected in the pan (probably a result of me driving 80 mph with no transmission fluid but we didn’t talk about that). A new transmission would cost $3000. Jim, who owned the place, was blunt: “With that car, it’s not worth it. If it were my car, I wouldn’t do it.” When someone thinks something is such a bad idea that they would rather you not pay them $3000 it must be a pretty bad idea. And so we walked around the block a few times before sucking it up, eating greasy
Chinese food and calling a rental car company. At some point the night before I had developed a hacking cough, a sore throat and a decently high fever. I curled into a miserable ball in the waiting room and contemplated death while Macky argued with Budget and Hertz. They didn’t do point-to-point rentals, please hold, they only did point-to-point rentals at their airport location, please hold, it seems that the airport location is all out of point-to-point rentals, have a nice day, etc. Eventually he figured something out and this is when we met Roy. Roy felt sorry for us, which, on reflection, shouldn’t have been all that surprising. He was waiting on his truck to get a new transmission, but he could take us to the rental car place in his other truck, which was right outside. He owned a farm 20 minutes outside of the city. He was a large guy, with a beer belly that was accentuated by his outfit; Roy was wearing stained white overalls that ended a few inches before his boots began. Numerous holes in the overalls revealed bright red long underwear. We liked him instantly. He told us about the time he was in Pennsylvania with his wife and their car died 44
and they tried to rent a car. “They wouldn’t let me because I didn’t have a credit card,” he grumbled. “I’ve never had a credit card. I’m old fashioned like that. So I had to leave them fifteen hundred in cash.” I mentioned that we had lots of credit cards but no money and he hooted with laughter. When we got to the rental car place, Roy followed us in, saying something about wanting “to make sure ya’ll get set.” He hovered a few feet behind us while we signed the paperwork and picked up the keys and he waited in his truck to confirm that the rental would actually start. It felt parental. It felt nice. Our new ride was a few steps up from the previous one, in every way possible, but particularly size. There is something to be said for so much legroom, but driving a shiny black Jeep Liberty made us feel very unlike ourselves. I had to swallow the instinct to post an apologetic sign on the rear window, something along the lines of “In real life, I’m an environmentalist, I promise.” We junked the Subaru for $500 dollars and headed westward. It was four pm and we had ten hours of Kansas in between us and a used car dealership in Colorado Springs. And this is the part where I owe Macky a gigantic tribute
because he drove the entire way while I sat in the passenger seat in a feverish haze. We ate at an I-HOP where I deliriously befriended the young couple sitting in the booth next to us and proceeded to tell them the entire saga. They were impressed. “I’m miserable when I have to drive to Denver. You guys are amazing,” the guy said. This boosted our self-esteem a bit. We spent the night in Limon, Colorado. I remember very little of Limon except that it is pronounced like “lime-in” and you can buy Frisbees shaped like cow-pies. In fact, the rest of the trip is a little hazy. I remember horrifying a slick Subaru dealer by dry-heaving into a bush behind a 40,000 dollar car. I remember a short, dumpy salesman named Ray who walked with an awkward foot-thrusting gait. Ray offered to take us to a nearby dealership to look at a magenta minivan, but Macky would have to drive because Ray’s license had been revoked, he wasn’t sure why but it might have something to do with that time he got two speeding tickets in one day. I remember Mike, a friend of a friend, who offered to look over any car we considered buying and who, more notably, looked like the Hulk if the Hulk wore shorts and polo shirts. I remember ordering tacos at a shady Mexican dive and napping in the Jeep. It was not the best day ever, but somehow,
and I put this down to Macky’s indomitable optimism and the tacos, it wasn’t the worst day either. Through some combination of luck, fate and desperation, we found a car. It was a little orange Chevy and Macky fell hard the moment he found out it was stick shift. The price was right, which is to say Macky could buy it and still hope to eat again in a few months. Things were starting to look up. Naturally, the car wasn’t ready to drive off the lot yet—that would have been too easy. That sort of thing only happens to other people, people who don’t have a badluck-logistics demon lurking in their luggage. We had passed the point of optimism and were beginning to accept that nothing was going to work out easily on this trip. Macky put down a $1500 deposit on the new car and we got back into the Jeep and drove to New Mexico. Sometimes you just need green chile burritos. They say the best adventures happen when you least expect them, when everything, absolutely everything, has gone wrong. This is a wellworn travel cliché, but it’s true. They also say
that adventures are not all that fun while you’re having them, and this is also true. No one wants to spend three days sleeping in the lobby of a car repair shop in Independence, Missouri. And no one wants to sell their car for parts halfway through a road-trip. But a funny thing happened on this trip. We still had fun. Not all the time, of course. There was a fair amount of crying and cursing and bemoaning life. But we kept ourselves entertained with stupid games and we did jumping jacks in parking lots. We met a lot of really nice people we never would have encountered otherwise. When you drive 12-hour days and sleep in hotels you miss the Rays and Noels and Robs of the world. And when you fly you miss it all–the sketchy Mexican restaurants with no front doors, the open plains, the setting sun in your eyes. These things are worth seeing and these people are worth meeting. And if it takes everything going wrong to make you stop and see something new, maybe it’s all worth it. And when it’s over, when you’ve had a few months to catch up on sleep and overload on Emergen-C, it starts seeming like a pretty good time. 46
Andrew Catomeris Ricky Chen Alex Jackman Kaveh Waddell
Bree Baccaglini Nate Brown Kiana Cateriano Sarah Cox Shan Dupont Olivia Heffernan Lillie Hodges Sarah James Julia John
Erin Miller Morag McKenzie Anna Ready-Campbell Katharine Reineman Syd Schulz Emily Selch Sam Sidhu Cate Stanton Lindsay Warne
J o i n t h e a d v en t u r e If you are interested in submitting writing or photography to Middlebury ÂGeographic or in being part of the magazineâ€™s editing team, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Every issue of Middlebury Geographic is available at go.middlebury.edu/mg.
Photo Contributors Ally Silberkleit Anthea Viragh Amanda Wiggins Advisors Lyn DeGraff, Reprographics Jeff Howarth, Geography
Oregon, USA (Patrick Freeman) Back cover: California, USA (Erin Miller) 47
Middlebury Geographic Spring 2013
Middlebury Geographic's Spring 2013 publication.