Mapping Fall's Advance
The first leaves of the year are turning just about now.
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
No, it's not too soon for a fall foliage map. The first leaves of the year are turning just about now. In a few days' time, trees in upstate New York, northern Minnesota, and in the higher parts of the Rocky Mountain states will have acquired their first autumnal hues.
It's the modest beginning of the annual fall offensive, as deciduous trees gradually shift color from their summery shades of green to a riotous variety of yellow and orange, gold and red, brown and rust.
Those colors will gradually deepen and spread throughout almost the entire continental United States. Florida remains mainly unaffected, as are the coastal regions of Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas; and southern parts of California and Arizona.
This map, charting the change in the very colors of fall foliage, is reminiscent of the Japanese tradition to chart the "spring offensive" of the cherry blossoms (see #371). It's taken here from Roadtrippers, which offers tips for foliage tourism across the country.
To get a better perspective on the timing of the color changes, take a look at the composite map below, which shows the change on a per-week basis. These maps can be found here at smokymountains.com. The page goes into the science of the shifting colors, and quotes Albert Camus, existentialist writer and foliage appreciator: "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
Strange Maps #736
Got a strange map? Let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.