Thursday, May 7, 2009


Today, I stopped in at the Gallup Map Co. at 17th and Main to buy a gift for a friend. Maps fascinate me. The cartographers who draw them deserve to be in the artist club yet they combine their visuals with engineering precision. Maps tell stories and sometimes in the hands of explorers they induce dreams, allowing one to visualize a trip, a journey, measuring time and space, creating a schedule. GPS systems, like computers, allow us to navigate with assistance. Maps on paper allow us to spread them on a table with a travel book, some delicious wine, a strong fragrant coffee, perhaps a cheese from the region before us. We’ll remember the smudges and wine stains from the journey’s dream session when we sit in a cafĂ© in that small village we circled with that pencil from the art museum. We’ll drink the wine and decide not to bring any bottles home despite the magical flavor, because we know that the wine memory belongs near the vineyard. Instead we’ll add a few new smudges, drip a few vintage drops on the map, circle them and annotate them with the winemaker's name and address. We’ll hope that the cheese smudges hold their fragrance. And then that map will have a character unlike any other. It will be ours.

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