farm

Posted by Ellen

Detail from a painting in the offices of the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society; artist and title unknown (to me).

Posted by Ellen

The valleys and lowermost hillsides of Nepal are subtropical; the crops grown there include tea and coffee and these banana trees. If a sturdy trekker were determined to leave the subtropics behind, he or she could walk straight uphill from here into patches of spring snow in a few hours, and into the glacial icefields of the high Himalaya in a few days.

Global warming is spreading up the mountainsides. Nepalis hope they have figured out a way to make money on climate change; the increasing heat in the air that has reduced productivity of tea plantations in India seems to have permitted tea cultivation higher than ever before on Nepalese hillsides. Not all the new plantings have thrived–the air is thinner in the high mountains, and the soil is rocky and poor. But fine tea is coming out of Nepal these days, from slopes about a mile higher than the bananas shown here.

In the long run, of course, tea won't save Nepal. As the glaciers shrivel in the high mountains and a scanty winter snowpack produces less and less spring runoff for the rivers of the subcontinent, people will have a hard time growing much of anything. Huge thirsty cities downstream are already beginning to compete for water with peasants struggling to irrigate the tiny terraces they have clawed into the mountainsides of Nepal.

Well. Maybe somebody will think of something.

Posted by Ellen

It was a while ago, close to fifteen years ago, but I think I remember how to get there: walk down the hill and through the fields of brussels sprouts to the edge of the cliffs above the sea. Follow the clifftops for a mile or so, till a narrow squiggly trail branches off the main track and maneuvers down through a gully in the cliff face. Scramble down to the bottom, and there you are, in the sandy little cove, sharing your beach with the ocean and the sky.

I hope I remember this place right. It seemed memorable for three reasons: the seclusion of the cove, the scenery surrounding the walk to the cove, and the brussels sprouts. The beach is in Wilder Ranch State Park near Santa Cruz, California. And for what it's worth, almost all of America's brussels sprouts are grown right there along the Pacific coast of Santa Cruz County, where winters are mild but the fog keeps the summer heat away.

Gotta get back there some time . . . .