Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/592

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588
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

curious minds as to why the ten largest cities were largest. They merely were. No one tried to tell why the great wheat plains were plains. They just were. Yea, verily have many been piloted about the earth, passing with kaleidoscopic haste picture after picture, cramming their heads with encyclopedic facts until they were made aching by the rush of detail. Truly were they as the summer tourist with red Baedeker in hand, seeing and learning.

Geography is not a mere placing of things upon an earth. It is not a subject fit only to be placed in childhood's curriculum and passed through hurriedly during immature years. Geography ought to awaken an interest and kindle an enthusiasm rivaled by few other sciences, to all minds, the mature as well as the young, because of its far-reaching relations. What about the romance of the forces of the earth, the beauty of topographic expression? Why not see in the tiny trickle of the rain gully the roaring, destruction-bearing Colorado? or behold in the frozen cap of the pond ice the wasted expanse of Greenland's glaciers?—or picture in the muddy sidewalk the tons of debris dumped by the Father of Waters at New Orleans to add new lands to the old?

Vermont may be a great producer of slate. But why? What a story a piece of Vermont slate might tell!—of a time many thousands of years ago when beneath the sea were being deposited muds worn from the land beyond. Then, deeply buried beneath overlying sediments, the clay became pressed to a firm shale. In the turning and folding of the whole mass to make new land, the heat of the disturbance baked the shale, and the pressure of the overlying rocks developed in it the fine planes of cleavage; the shale became a slate. And the wearing of the rocks above by the processes of erosion brought to man's view the roofing of his home! Then, too, compare the passionate temperamental Italian with his more stable and phlegmatic cousins of the north. Is it just "the nature of the beast"? or is there a "why"? Why is the oriental art so rich in all its riot of color? Why the prominence of Philadelphia, Chicago, Richmond? Why the steel rails of Pittsburgh?—the great fruit produce of New York?

These and many like questions may give an insight into the "different" way of thinking of geography. For, although all of us will admit that what we have or are is because we are of the earth's food, shelter or clothing—the three R's of life—yet I want to suggest some of the perhaps less well known but just as interesting correlations between ourselves and geographical conditions.

 

The earth supplies man with the necessities of food, clothing and shelter, which, naturally, differ in different parts of the world. And yet in each locality man has adapted himself to these differences. The