Saturday, June 24, 2006

Who's Afear'd?

I'd used Google Earth before, but only really as a type of party curiousity and icebreaker. Today, Saint John da Baptist's, I hunkered down with aching temples to really spin the world. It was enthralling. I zipped over the two places I'd lived in Oakville, my Mum's place on Vancouver Island (a cargo loading jetty, a local landmark that prongs out from the Cowichan Bay estuary, can be seen from 50 miles up and maybe more if Saltspring Island's titletab hadn't blocked it off) and then tried to have a look at me here (cloudy). Then I dug a little: had a few ganders at Al Iskandariyah (Alexandria.. who's reading Justine then?) and Cairo, the Grand Canyon (there's a crazy camera 'tilt' function that'll let you handglide over the topography. Dynamite) and London. I was amazed at how quickly I found my old house. And so then I went deeper, to look at where I lived when I was five. A county on the south of England called Dorset, it's well-known for its rural, growly dialect (commonly associated with pirates -- for a quick e.g., today's subject heading is the Dorset motto) and gentrified seaside holiday towns. Read: retirement. Portland, mid-Dorset, was a major mustering base for the Allied ships in preparation for D-Day. My mum worked there as a teacher in the 80's. She said the kids talked like the howling wind (it's built on a rocky bluff). Anyway, the view from space flinted another ember of memory: something that isn't too uncommon on the Downs (the rolling hills that 'become' the chalky cliffs). When walking there, on cliff trails admidst the gorse bushes and sheep-cropped grass tufts, you can find yourself sitting down in utter surprise at the realization that you just crested not a hill, but a 5,000 y.o. Bronze Age fortification, or even barrows (burial mound). And the awareness will creep over and thrill you as you scan the chiefdom that once was, likely overlooking the sea. Sometimes, usually a way inland (the only ones I ever saw were in wooded areas) you could stumble across a small stone circle. On Google, I saw a few forts (one just south of Dorchester, if you have Google Earth and want to check it out. It looks like a pair of rippled hills) and checked out Salisbury (Sarum) to see Stonehenge (great zoom on that one, so much so, you see its long morning shadows). I could go on about Dorset for hours, instead I'm going to get this red hot laptop off my junk. Arrr.

3 comments:

eve said...

Aaargh...

That book really whetted my curiosity about Alexandria.

Lindz said...

Google Earth is my favorite courtroom tool cause you get to catch witnesses lying about how far they were from the alleged event. "Oh yeah I was about 25 feet away" turns into 325 feet when you confront them with the satellite photo and the scale in the corner. Fun times!!

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