Monday, September 22, 2008

The thing about drawing maps

especially historical maps, is they take forever to do. I'm struggling a bit with all the new tricks Adobe Illustrator does, but that isn't the real problem... It's not the software but the sources. The dozen old maps I'm using were drawn over a span of 3 centuries by people of various skill, getting the pieces to line up is is kinda like jamming a puzzle that warped in the rain.

And you can't just cheat and use a Google map. Things change in 400 years, they do, rivers are dammed up or change course, town centers shift, cemeteries fill up, ponds disappear, land fills fill up, and wars change things. Plus modern highways and rail bridges obscure the sheep paths and hills that seemed to dictate the way roads happened back then.

I'm learning a lot. Bet most of you didn't know Walden Woods (of the famous pond) was a skanky hummocked tract of sandy unfarmable land, which is why it was a woods when Thoreau hung out in his cabin. Or that freed slaves moved there.

I didn't know that so many writers serially lived in one house in Concord that just going there should relieve writer's block. Here it is: The Wayside home to: Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Sidney (who wrote the Five Little Peppers, I can't be the only one who ever read those books!). How many transcendentalists does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, they were lit wicks.

But I'll be glad to leave Concord when I'm done with the map. No offense. I'm sure it is a lovely town, even two centuries later. But I need to stop gawking at all the old sites.

1 comment:

Deborah Atherton said...

How can it be that we never talked about the Five Little Peppers? They were part of my Victorian childhood (I was convinced I had the last Victorian childhood, nourished entirely by Louisa May Alcott, The Five Little Peppers, and my all time favorite, The Cuckoo Clock - but maybe it was YOU who had the last Victorian childhood.)

Or maybe out there is a young girl even now having the last Victorian childhood, stuck at home by illness or a parent who insists on home schooling, and surrounded by 150 year old books. If so, I hope she thrives on the vision of life offered - a little mournful, yes, but full of dreams and not without hope.