We’ve made it! It’s the end of another week. I hope you have some fun and exciting weekend plans to which you’re looking forward in the next few days. As for me, today I’m headed to Boston for work. These trips are usually short and jam-packed, so there won’t be any time for sightseeing, but I do intend to take advantage of the opportunity to get some good seafood… perhaps some clam chowdah or lobstah?
(I can’t even type that sentence without being reminded of Jim Gaffigan’s funny bit about Boston and seafood. If you haven’t heard it, you should give it a listen.)
Anyway, as I journey northward, here’s what I’ve been loving lately!
I am fascinated by the remote corners of the world, and I don’t just mean that in the “I want to go as far from home as possible” sense. Rather, I am continually awed by places, towns, and people that exist in areas of great physical isolation. As our world becomes increasingly connected and small, it is amazing for me to consider how many people still live in places that are inaccessible by road, cut off by the elements for months at a time, or just so very, very far away that few non-residents ever find themselves there. I find myself devouring stories of populations tucked away in tiny settlements in the high Himalaya, islanders that violently repel attempts at contact, a family that set out into the Siberian taiga to remove themselves from the rest of humanity, and the hundreds of small villages scattered across the globe that are still untouched by the internet, cell phone service, international politics, and McDonald’s.
Sometimes I get a little jealous on that last front.
Life in these places is often far from easy, but the people dwelling there have an ancient connection to their land and way of life that is deep and powerful. This short photo essay tells the story of India’s Spiti Valley, one of the highest inhabited places on the planet, where carriers walk 46 kilometers round-trip just to make sure that letters, important documents, bank deposits, and other mail reach their intended destinations. It’s a quick, interesting read with lovely pictures.
2.) Footage of life in Japan from over 100 years ago
Do you ever wish you could step back in time? For as long as I can remember, that ability has been right up there with flight on my desired superpowers list. I crave the ability to travel back, invisibly and without negative impact, and simply observe life as it was in different eras in different civilizations. I imagine sitting on the mountains overlooking Machu Picchu as its noble inhabitants wake for the day, meandering the temple complexes of ancient Asia, catching the first performance of “Hamlet” in Shakespearean England, joining the throngs of people listening eagerly to Jesus Christ as he preaches the Sermon on the Mount.
Is it any surprise I picked up an anthropology minor at university?
Lately, I’ve come across a few compilations of footage from the early days of film showing daily life in cities over one hundred years ago. This video features four minutes of speed-corrected film footage of the streets of Tokyo in 1913 and 1915, with sound effects added for realism. It’s an interesting glimpse into a different time and place; the people are still dressed in traditional garb and many passers-by can’t help but stare curiously at the rolling camera. It’s also the closest I will probably ever get to achieving my time traveling dreams.
3.) Small-town custard stands
Does your home town or region have a particular food or cuisine that, now that you’ve moved away, you find yourself missing terribly? It might seem silly, especially since I’m living only a little under 2.5 hours from where I grew up, but one of the things I miss most about home is good, rich soft serve ice cream or frozen custard. As a kid in rural central Pennsylvania, the number of restaurants in our county would practically double in the summer when all the custard stands would open up. These were small, seasonal, mom-and-pop places that specialized in fried food, burgers, hoagies, and especially frozen treats.
For me, frozen custard was a family affair, and my love of it probably has a genetic component. My mom spent her high school summers working at a place called the Creme Stop, while my sister and I spent ours at a similar establishment called MacBarney’s (an amalgamation of the two owners’ first names). It was there that my love of all things ice cream really took off. Barney’s had the best ice cream in the county (come at me, Jack’s Drive-In lovers! :P), and he was kind enough to let his workers make themselves a little treat, on the house, during a slow point in their shift.
(Suffice it to say that, for me, every shift involved a little treat. Thank you, high school metabolism, for literally saving my rear during those calorie-loaded summers.)
Sadly, what I thought was an obvious component of the summer season doesn’t seem to exist here in the Philly suburbs. There are plenty of delicious creameries in my area serving excellent hand-dipped treats, but sometimes my heart just wants that comforting cone of twist soft serve
Happily, I met up with my sister on Monday to catch up after not seeing each other for a while. She lives in Lancaster County, which is full of quaint mom-and-pop restaurants, and to my delight we discovered that there is a custard stand located at the exact mid-point between our respective homes. (I would include a picture here of my hot fudge sundae with twist ice cream, but I devoured it much to quickly and gleefully to have been able to snap a photo.) I think I’ve found my solution to my soft serve cravings: weekly catch-ups with my sister!
Another week in the books! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and if you live near a delicious custard stand, please enjoy a cone for me!
See you next week!
What have you been loving lately?
If you could go back in time, where would you visit?
What foods from your hometown do you find yourself craving?