Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Photographing Birds in Louisiana

“Don’t worry if the feathers are blown.”  The voice over my shoulder belonged to our friend Marie.  In front of us, in the brilliant sun, were scores of great egrets, their feathers a blinding white.  We were looking out over a rookery where egrets gather to practice their rites of spring.  Marie, a professional photographer, was referring to overexposure so great that all detail would be lost.  Though I’d heard the term only once before, I knew I was in for it:  those egrets were white, and the sun was high in a cloudless sky.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Eyjafjallajokull - The Inconvenient Volcano

For 7 days I tracked its every move vicariously through BBC TV, SKY News and CNN in hotel rooms in London and Paris, waiting for the go-ahead to get back on an aeroplane bound for Atlanta, secretly hoping that it wouldn’t come too soon. Though I knew had to get back.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sleeping in the Swamp: Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin

If you travel by canoe through the river swamps of Louisiana, you may very well grow uneasy as the sun is going down.  You look around for a site—a place to sleep, a place to cook.  There is no terra firma. . . . You study the dusk for some dark cap of uncovered ground.  Seeing one at last, you occupy it, limited though it may be. . . . You have established yourself in much the same manner that the French established New Orleans.  So what does it matter if your leg spends the night in the water.
--John McPhee, The Control of Nature

For more than eighteen miles, the columns holding up Interstate 10 in Louisiana rise out of a swamp.  Not just any swamp, mind you, but the Atchafalaya Basin Swamp—the largest swamp in the United States, covering a third of the total land mass of Louisiana.  The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, as this portion of I-10 is known, is reputed to be the tenth longest bridge in the world.  Our goal was Butte La Rose, from which we would travel down back roads to find the houseboat where we were to stay, moored in the swamp, for four days.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cooking with Giada

I want to cook like Giada De Laurentiis.

I don't necessarily mean that I want to create the same recipes as she does, although that would be nice too. My son gave me some DVDs of her cooking show on the Food Network and I was hooked. Her recipes are simple and easy to recreate at home and they are based on Italian cooking, of which I am particularly fond.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hope Is The Thing With Feathers

From the vantage point of Royal Street on a beautiful spring day, the resurgence of New Orleans was abundantly on display.  Choosing from the delectable fare at the New Orleans Roadfood Festival was nigh impossible:  roasted oysters, crawfish enchiladas, roast beef Po Boys, Texas barbecue, dark chocolate turtles, pecan pie, and more.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

South Africa's Rocky Road to the FIFA 2010 World Cup - 63 Days and Counting

The South African government recently announced a drop in the country’s murder rate, as safety concerns persist ahead of the country hosting the biggest sporting event on the planet. At the same time, the UK-based Telegraph website published an article stating that, because the crime rate in South Africa is one of the highest in the world – only slightly lower than that of Iraq - some of the tens of thousands of English football fans who are expected to descend on the country for the games are virtually certain to die. On Saturday, the murder of Eugene Terre’Blanche, white supremacist leader of the AWB (right-wing Afrikaner political party) only added fuel to that fire.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Listening to Spring

A long, wide path at Audubon’s Buttercup Farm Sanctuary in Dutchess County, New York, abuts Wappinger Creek.  It’s a paradise for birds, yet not long ago, when snow and ice still reigned, few birds could be found.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Trip Down Memory Lane to "Fiddler on the Roof"

From the moment that Tevya burst on to the drive-in screen, I was hooked. We all were, especially my father. I can still see him swaggering, belting out his favorite lines: “ If I were a rich man, Daidle deedle daidle Daidle daidle deedle daidle dum…” and on and on, in his full-throttle baritone. It became my family’s signature tune, starting that night at the drive-in when my 12-year-old self fell in love with Tevya and his family while sitting on a blanket with my mother and father and my brothers in front of our car, feasting on hamburgers and milkshakes under the stars.