Sunday, June 9, 2013
life as a walk in the park
One fine morning a few days ago I remembered to take my camera with me when we went for one of our regular walks through the park. Although Point Pleasant isn't the biggest city park I've ever known well, it's certainly big enough, and wild enough, to give the impression you have much of it to yourself. In fact, that's often pretty close to true. Even though every path will eventually take you to the shore, it's quite possible to wander for hours and never see the sea. Anyway, the ones above are a few of the pictures I took as we walked along a meandering uphill path between granite outcrops and a watery marsh where the frogs were making rude noises.
When you're far away from city sounds it's easy to imagine other places and different times. Of course, it goes without saying that most of us would be hard pressed to get by in the world as it was a century or more ago; we've become very used to our conveniences even when they aren't as convenient as we might prefer. Still, there are a few out of the way places where people continue to live in much the way they did long ago. One of those places is also in India, in the northeast where a rainfall that can often be measured in yards rather than inches, requires sturdy bridges.
In a place like Cherrapunji, India, living bridges are made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree. Long ago the people who lived there saw the possibility of growing bridges across the valley's many rivers by guiding the fast growing roots in the right direction through hollowed out betel nut trunks. Once a root reached the opposite side it was allowed to establish itself in the ground. The root bridges, some of which are more than 100 ft long, take 10 to 15 years to be fully functional, but they're very strong - strong enough to support the weight of 50 or more people. Better still, because they grow stronger as the years go by many of these bridges are more than 500 years old.
I'd love to walk across one of these but since getting there would provide serious difficulties, I'll just have to content myself with imagining one next time I'm on a very narrow path on a sunny day. There are more excellent pictures by Timothy Allen and a story about his journey there on Human Planet.