David and I walked and walked and walked yesterday. I am getting in shape for my trip to California in October. I told my son I want to visit the San Diego Botanical Garden in Encinitis. I love gardens, especially Botanic Gardens.
When I took the History of Science Class two years ago, I wrote my paper on the history of the botanic gardens. Europeans first established them in an attempt to recreate the Garden of Eden. Europeans traveled all over the world and collected exotic animals and plants from every where. The first Europeans to do this were the Jesuits who traveled overland along the Silk Road to China.
PBS has been airing a series “Did the Chinese Discover America?” Much of the material used in this film is conjecture, reminiscent of Thor Heyerdahl’s ideas of the 1960s which suggested Egyptian priests had “discovered” America and were the source of the Mayan empire. (By the way the Mayan calendar does not end in December of 2012.)
At the end of the PBS film on China the producers identify the content as “theory.” The evidence of Chinese exploration is sparse, although they did boast a fine fleet at one time. They controlled much of the sea around South East Asia until the ascendance of the European powers beginning with the Portuguese. During their hegemonic period, the Chinese traded with India and the east coast of Africa too.
To celebrate my birthday yesterday, David took me to the Fish Market in old town Alexandria. I visited the enamalist’s gallery “my favorite” before we ate and I went back after we ate our lovely fish meal. David had fish and chips and I had a crab cake. The crab salad I wanted will not be on the menu until June. The Blue Fin Crab cake was delicious and I had fresh spring asparagus too. All local fare. No salad, I am off salads bought in restaurants, especially from salad bars.
The Fish Market serves all kinds of beer and wines and delicacies on half shells. Years ago we ate the Blue Point oysters from Lynn Haven Bay in the Norfolk area of Virginia, cracked right at the bar. For a while, pollution in the Virginia rivers as well as silt from upstream development ruined the oysters in locations like the mouth of the James River. I like raw oysters on the half shell, but ate none yesterday. I had a glass of Cypress Zinfandel instead.
The local PBS program Maryland Outdoors reports that the shellfish are making a comeback in the Chesapeake thanks to environmental efforts in the surrounding states including Delaware, NJ, PA, MD, VA and indirectly WVA. The worst pollution in the bay comes from rivers in PA. The EPA has “encouraged” various settlements to clean up their act and treat sewage before dumping it in the Susquehanna or another river tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Our politically “Blue” community was one such polluter until recently when the EPA scolded it. Our county is in the process of constructing a new sewage treatment plant as a result.
From the time I moved here in 1960, environmentalists have been fighting to save the Bay. Some progress has been made. When I first saw the Bay, the water was filthy. Now it is almost clean. The invisible to the naked eye, continues to pollute the Bay the form of nitrates, however. We have a huge dead zone in summer months, when we have much less rain. Virginia and Maryland have worked to clean up the Potomac. I took a photo of it yesterday from the end of one of the runways at National Airport. (see below)
I didn’t photograph anything closer because my camera ran out of juice. Maybe next time I will actually take a closeup photo of the water.
When I went back to the enamelist’s gallery, I bought some earrings and a couple of “plates” to hang on my kitchen wall. (see below). I love enamel ware. I have taken many trips to various museums around the US to see cloisonné and enamel ware items. The first piece I bought, which I can’t find, and probably gave my youngest son or daughter was a little antique teapot with a turquoise handle made in China many years ago that I bought in Chinatown in San Francisco in 1967. Such delicate work. One of my favorite colors is the Celadon green so beloved by the Koreans. Blue is also a favorite. The ‘green’ plate below was made by a Pennsylvania artist and depicts the coal burning smokestacks in her state. Even coal has it moments. Don’t you love the little pearl droplets of ash?