Travelogues at your library |

Travelogues at your library

Winter brings an embarrass de richesses to the mountains, and those of us lucky enough to live in Summit County can participate in a vast array of outdoor activities. Moreover, indoors we can sit by the fire, read a book on the couch, or travel vicariously to exotic and culturally dynamic environs. Huh? Yes, winter also brings the annual Friends of the Library Travel Slide Shows to the Blue River Room of the North Branch Library in Silverthorne (651 Center Circle) at 7 p.m. on five Friday evenings. Here’s a brief preview of our visual adventures along with a few books about them.

The series begins tonight with “Mazungas in the Mist: Trekking to Mountain Gorillas in Africa.” The “mazungas” are Susan and Fred Forman, and they will take us to the untracked forests in the mountains of Uganda and Rwanda in order to view four different family groups of gorillas. The treks are uphill and muddy, but once you see these “gentle giants,” it’s worth all the effort of getting there. Lonely Planet’s “Africa” has plenty of information on the entire continent, including tips on these treks.

Our next two slide shows feature Italy. On Feb. 4, my “Let’s Go to Florence” will take you on a walking tour of the four mediaeval quarters of Florence that today constitute the historical center of the modern city and that contain some of the most important museums, libraries, churches and historic buildings in the world. We Taylors have lived in Florence for three years total, but the city never ceases to amaze us on return visits. Ross King’s award-winning “Brunelleschi’s Dome” is a must read, and its subtitle says it all: “How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture.”

A week later on Feb. 11, John Warner, a.k.a. the mayor of Breckenridge, will take us mountain climbing in the Alps that straddle Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. Afterwards we’ll relax in the rolling hills of Tuscany-think Chianti country. Then it’ll be on to Rome, where classical antiquity and the modern world coexist in almost unbelievable harmony. “Italy: Tourist to Mountain Climber” is Warner’s title. Irving Stone pretty much invented the biographical novel, and his “The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Novel of Michelangelo” is arguably the best exemplar of the genre; it will get you in the mood for these two presentations, because Michelangelo did as much, if not more, for Rome as he did for Florence. For books on climbing, head to the 796.5 section in non-fiction.

On Feb. 25 we go to India with Barbara Werren. We’ll see exotic temples and lovely churches, warm-hearted and beautiful people living in abject poverty with mounds of trash for their neighborhood, idyllic landscapes, sacred cows that rest wherever they so desire without any concern for the daily mayhem that surrounds them, and traffic jams that make eastbound I-70 appear eminently negotiable on a Sunday evening. The beautiful and the ugly both have a share in Barbara’s slide show on “The Soul of India.” For an historical perspective check out “What Life Was Like in the Jewel of the Crown: British India, AD 1600-1905.” For modern India see R. Guha’s “India After Gandhi: The history of the world’s largest democracy.”

Our last presentation, on March 4, “Exploring the Galapagos,” promises to be visually stunning since Linda and John Mirro are professional photographers and since the 19 islands and 42 islets that make up the famous archipelago 600 miles west of Ecuador contain a vast diversity of wildlife and are a virtual textbook for plate tectonics, volcanic calderas, and geological hot spots. Charles Darwin spent several weeks on the islands when he visited in 1835, and what he observed there figured prominently in the development of his thinking about evolution. The photos in “Galapagos: Discovery on Darwin’s Islands” by D. W. Steadman and S. Zousmer are a field guide to the mammals, reptiles, and birds who call the islands their home. Jonathan Weiner’s “The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time” is an exciting and very readable account of what has happened recently to one species on the islands.

So mark your calendars now, and visit your library for both books and slide shows this winter.

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