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Sunday, November 20, 2016


I was in the eaves of my house the other day.  I don't go in there very often, but I keep old furniture in there, and had some items I wanted to tuck away.  I should've looked first, but I went in head first and got a faceful of spider webs.  Ick, ack, yuck!

I swept it out and stored the furniture, plus discovered about 100 years of Grandpa's National Geographics.  I thought back to lazy days on his porch, listening to old folks talk about the usual things while I looked at African women's breasts, Indian women's nose rings, Eskimo's harpoons, South American pyramids, and Russian mummies.

My sister thought the nose ring was very cool and wanted one.  Dad said something decisively prohibitive.  I said it wasn't very practical since it had a golden chain looped to an earring.  Picture climbing a tree with a chain hanging out of your face!  What if you got in a fight and your opponent had a ring?  I vividly imagined a bleeding nose and decided this kind of jewelry was foolishness.  Sis understood suffering for beauty.  I rejected the concept.  If the number of people with nose rings these days mean anything, more people think like Sis these days.  She was clearly a trend setter.

I know I'm not alone in having my world expanded by National Geographic.  I looked into the eyes of people far away and felt their humanity even though I lived in a lily white area and the only black person I'd met was Santa Claus.  I saw women archeologists, deep sea divers, anthropologists, and animal watchers and knew I could grow up to be whatever I wanted to be.

A friend of mine rejected a job offer with National Geographic.  As a photographer, how could he possibly walk away from such an opportunity?!  "I didn't want to lay on my belly in a swamp for weeks just to get the perfect photo of an alligator staring me in the eyes."  Well, I suppose that makes sense.  But still, I'm glad somebody is willing to do it.  My world was larger and more inclusive because of their sacrifices.

I talked with someone about selling Grandpa's magazines once.  I was told everyone saved their National Geographics, so there really isn't much value to them.  Financial value that is, because I still value being able to look at them.  They're beautiful and they make me 10 years old again on Grandpa's front porch with the delicious aroma of Grandma cooking lunch wafting in.  I'd be willing to sell the really early magazines before photos though.

There's also something beautiful in the fact that many people saved their collections.  I'm glad so many appreciated expanding their worlds through the work of scientists, writers, and photographers.  It was worth a faceful of spider webs in my eaves to remind me of their efforts.

There's been much talk of bigotry and chauvinism this week.  Maybe more people need to dust off their pile of National Geographics and look into the eyes of people who might look different, but are humans with feelings, hopes, and dreams?


  1. National Geographic really set the standard in expanding our world views before the internet. I remember my dad's shelves collapsing on day from the weight of his collection! Like you, I loved to look at photos of exotic people. I also agree on the impracticality of the nose ring!
    I like the intricacy of your spider webs - much better than a face full of the real thing!

    1. I have to chuckle about your dad's shelves collapsing :)

  2. I too remember the amazing photography Linda....way before the Internet was even thought about. What a fun collection and great memories for you. Your webs are beautiful..I never mind spiders webs...send them my way;-) xx

    1. I don't mind spider webs to look at, but I didn't like them in my face. Sometimes I think life was better before the internet and National Geographic was the only way we could see people and things so far away? There was more room for imagination.

  3. Before the National Geographic there was the magazine of UNESCO (if I remember well). It was fearfully appealing showing worlds to me, as a child, not only looking full strange rituals, strange clothing, strange ways of collecting food like hunting monkeys.
    Indeed, the piercings and body paints were part of the strangeness. Yet, the faces of the people living their strange lives looked happy and not at all troublesome or frightened. Your remark, Linda, at the end of your post, is important. The internet we have today shows us our preferences, our wishes, our personality based on former search data. It is nothing compared to the old National Geographic or UNESCO magazine, on the contrary, it tends to be one big selfie to which we are staring. If you ever give away your grandpa's collection, what about a school? Maybe young students will feel as we did back then: wondered and fascinated.

  4. I couldn't exactly remember UNESCO, so I looked it up. They seem to have the highest ideals for international cooperation. They were created in 1945, and National Geographics started its magazine in 1888. You're so right, today's internet is like a big selfie. We need to encourage everyone to look outside themselves to see others who are different than us. May UNESCO and National Geographic keep doing their things!

  5. Lovely webs! I like the way they catch the light. Isn't it odd how something can really be so pretty to look at yet so icky to touch, especially unexpectedly? I suppose house webs are a bit grosser than outside webs on tree branches, though house webs visually don't bother me as much as maybe they should. :) And yes about the National Geographic magazines.

  6. I think your answer to "web" is especially beautiful :)