20 January 2016

It's On the Wall

I don't recall when I first read this piece in Slate titled "The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You'll Ever See" but I very much recall how much I enjoyed reading it. I don't know how many other young teens wanted to be a cartographer when they grew up but I was one of them. Franklin Maps on South Henderson Road was a favorite place to visit and I eventually collected the U.S. Geological Survey 7.5 minute maps not only for my home area but also for the farms of my relatives where I spent many summers.

I may have mentioned David Imus's map of the United States to Jeremy or he may have discovered it on his own. In any event, he unrolled his 4' x 3' copy on the dining room table Christmas Eve day and he and I spent some fascinating time studying what, where, and how Imus had crammed so much beautifully-done information into his map.

To my pleasure, on Christmas morning I was surprised to get from Jeremy a small, signed section of Imus's larger work. It now hangs on the wall of my office. 

Centered on the Great Lakes region (where we lived for nearly 15 years), Imus writes the following about this work:

One goal of the Essential Geography of the USA was to draw out America's iconic landscapes, and what American landscape is more ionic than the Great Lakes?
Beyond that, this area is a geographic vortex. Here, two of the world's great nations share a border, the boreal forest transitions into the open farmland of the Midwest, and the massive lakes themselves create a climatic phenomenon known as the "lake effect." So recently did the glaciers retreat from here that the Great Lakes are only twice as old as the world's oldest living tree.
I suspect that the purpose of maps in a person's life changes as one gets older. They remain, to be sure, guides to get from here to there but now they function just as much as a reminder of where one has been and how the stability of the earth compares with the brevity of a life. In any event, I commend Imus's work to all who find the where as important as the who and what.

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