Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A bit of inspiration to travel

Photo from Wildflower Wonders by Bob Gibbons of Tien Shan Mountains in China (Princeton University Press).
Books can be good for inspiration. Some books inspire with ideas. Others with adventure. Sometimes just photos that inspire one to travel to new places.

I had a chance to read Wildflower Wonders: The 50 best wildflower sites in the world over the past few days. The author, Bob Gibbons, shows off some impressive photography of beautiful grasslands from around the world. From the Tien Shan Mountains to the Outer Hebrides to Namaqualand.

It's more than just a coffee table book of pictures, though. Gibbons does an excellent job weaving together cultural and geological history with the ecology of the areas in ways I wish I could. His discussion of the settlement history of the Julian Alps or the unique geology of the Dolomites in Italy that differentiates its flora from nearby limestone grasslands.

I think we forget to be biogeographers too often and forget that we can learn as much from travels as experimentation. And it's our travels that shape our experiments. Even those that work at the global scale often see just pixels and not the uniqueness of place that truly defines geography.

I have little but praise for this book. It would have been nice to see more pictures of grass rather than the less-than-subtle, somewhat ostentatious wildflowers. But, I guess that's my job on the next trip.

[Thanks to Princeton University Press for the advance copy.]

No comments:

Post a Comment