“The long still day is ending / In hollow and on height, / The lighthouse seaward sending / White rays of steady light” – Roderic Quinn
Lighthouses & Seaweed
Covid continues to rear its ugly head, so I’ll be sticking close to home for the next month. But never fear! My brain will be fully occupied as I’ll be immersing myself in lighthouses and seaweed. I have a huge stack of books about marine birds, lighthouse life, and seaweed. A friend has challenged me to cook with seaweed; I’ll be watching some coastal television shows; and I’ll be reading poems about the Pacific Ocean. Additional suggestions to enrich my salty, iodine-rich month are most welcome.
The Parthenon in Greece, Hadrian’s Wall in the UK – these are well-known archeological sites. But how many of us are familiar with Great Zimbabwe? And yet, it was “the capital of a prosperous state of more than 50,000 square kilometres.” Western explorers, supremely confident in their own superiority, refused to believe that Africans could have built such an impressive city and empire. “Rather, it must have been built by a vanished group of people from the current day Middle East.” The input of local people was marginalized. A local archaeologist, Shadreck Chirikure, is trying to reclaim a confiscated past. [links to articles from The British Academy, National Geographic, The Economist (subscribers only), and a video talk by Shadreck Chirikure]
In North America, we tend to use rice to bulk out a meal and absorb the flavour of Chinese or Indian dishes. In Japan, however, there are about 300 brands of short-grain japonica rice. “Each one is a unique cultivar that’s been grown by plant breeders for some combination of traits: stickiness, starch density, big kernels, high yields, early maturation, heat resilience, pest resistance. Some thrive only in the warmer subtropical southwestern regions, while others are hardy enough for the cooler northern climate of Hokkaido.” The owner of a rice shop in western Tokyo says some varieties of rice may be better suited to curry, others to grilled fish. “’Food lovers are starting to get adventurous, and rice is not just a staple for them,’ he says.” One statement in the article really hit home for me: “Rice connoisseurs know that it’s better to choose farmers, not brands.” [Taste]
Footnotes to a Conversation is a weekly Monday feature covering an assortment of topics that I’ve come across in the preceding week – books, art, travel, food, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I also post occasional articles on other dates, including frequent book reviews and travel tales.
If you share my love of nature, I suggest you also read EcoFriendly Sask that I publish in collaboration with my brother, Andrew. Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces.