Almost the 44th parallel

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Like most of you, I live on earth.

 

My house is almost equidistant from the Equator and the North Pole. Living in between those two extremes, you would think we would have perfect weather. We don’t.

 

 

Longitudinally, I am also almost equidistant between a French farm field in the southern département of Aveyron and a wave in the North Pacific Ocean not too far south of the Aleutian Islands.

 

Ninety degrees of separation eastward

 

 

Ninety degrees of separation westward

 

One of the advantages of living near the 44th parallel in the northern hemisphere is that if I want to go around the world, I can do it in less than 17,000 miles. People who live on the equator have to travel 25,000 miles, almost 8,000 more miles than me. Once you factor in the cost of gas, it’s clear that in spite of the cold weather, I can save a lot of money on around-the-world travel.

 

I’m not crazy about the way the earth is tilted. If it were perfectly straight, I would be walking around at a 45° angle, which is harder than you think. The tilt makes it even harder. I think that’s why I always feel a few degrees off. Thankfully, I can stand partway upright and keep my head up; I’ve never understood how those people below the equator can walk around all day with their heads pointed down.

 

I’ve gotten used to the way the earth spins around the sun and have grown fond of having regular days and night. I’m not crazy about how it revolves widdershins (the old word for “counterclockwise”) around the sun because that’s the direction that unloosens things. The only way to get it to spin sunwise (the old word for “clockwise,” not to be confused with Early Childspeak for “sunrise”) is to turn the world upside down and pretend that the bottom of outer space is the top. I never do that. I already get dizzy if I think too much about the earth rotating as it revolves around the sun and the solar system orbiting around the Milky Way.

 

The part that unnerves me the most about living on earth is the hanging-in-outer space part. I like to be inside when I talk about it, near something I can hold onto, just in case. Don’t laugh. The website New Scientist has an article, “Solar system’s planets could spin out of control,” which is just the kind of thing I should never read. You probably shouldn’t either, but if you insist, go here. Keep in mind you cannot read the entire article unless you register, but there’s enough to scare you. Also if you are looking for another scientific-minded individual to hold onto when the world spins out of control, New Scientist has its own dating service called New Scientist Connect where you can “Search thousands of discerning, intelligent people like you.” I suggest you hurry up.

 

Other than the dizziness and occasional terror about spinning out of control and hurtling through outer space with no place to go but out, I enjoy living on earth. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

 

Happy Earth Day from just above the 44th parallel.

A close-up of the 44th parallel in Wisconsin.

 

Special thanks to Wikipedia and Google for the pictures.

32 thoughts on “Almost the 44th parallel

  1. Always been dyslexic directionally challenged, but found out on a trip to Buenos Aires that I simply live on the wrong side of the hemisphere. Turn me around and upside down and land me in Argentina, and I am spot on. Signed, a fellow dizzy person a-whirling widdershins

      • So you’ve stared at the water swirling the opposite way down the drain? Ecuador didn’t seem to help my sense of direction, but I truly found my compass in Argentina. Strangely, my husband lost his, which made the two-week flash of brilliance particularly rewarding. Maybe blood rushing to my head is what my brain cells need….

  2. It is obvious why you have realized that you are equidistant between France and the Aleutian Islands….I am sure you can see both from where you live, given how flat the landscape seems to be at your midpoint home.

  3. I’m glad you understand the gravity of having to walk around tilted and a few degrees off. (I wish I had a few degrees either off or on. I only have one degree and I got that so many years ago, I’m not sure what I did with it!)

  4. I don’t even know my coordinates, but it is south of your location. I like the notion that the reason I may be less steady on my feet as I age may have something to do with the tilt of the earth. And, oh, I love that RAB mentioned “Birches,” a favorite Frost poem.

      • Texas has many, many polite ways of referring to, um, being “a few degrees off.” Those Texan and Southernisms get increasingly colorful when confronted with rising degrees of eccentric behavior. If you hit the “bless her/his heart” stage of oddity, you know something spectacular is happening. : )

  5. I got a bit confused thinking you were somewhere in the South of France (which is a wonderful place to be — I thought I had to start hating you.

    But wherever you have landed, I am glad you’re on the planet!

  6. the Urbane Cowgirl

    Your quandry brings to mind one of my all-time favorite Monty Python bits:

    “Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
    And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
    That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
    A sun that is the source of all our power.
    The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
    Are moving at a million miles a day
    In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
    Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.
    Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars
    It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
    It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
    But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
    We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
    We go ’round every two hundred million years,
    And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
    In this amazing and expanding universe.

    The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
    In all of the directions it can whizz
    As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
    Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
    So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
    How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
    And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
    ‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.”

    – Present company excepted, of course.

  7. You are so funny – I like this perspective (the photos; not the spinning out of control – now I will have to go to Google Earth and see who I share a common latitude with).

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