Dawn over Himalaya

 Shimla is the capital  city of Himachal Pradesh, a state in northern India. Fans of the mini-series The Jewel in the Crown, based on Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet,  will know it better as the hill station Pankot. Those who have viewed the scenes set in Pankot, especially scenes at Rose Cottage, will have admired the range of mountains in the distance: that is Himalaya.
Dawn over Himalaya
When we visited Shimla in late October, 2014, we were fortunate to stay for several nights in the Wildflower Hall hotel, once the estate of Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, set high in the mountains (8,250 feet above sea level) with a wonderful view of the Himalayan mountain range. The hotel had a telescope for viewing the snow-capped Himalayas, but it was not available while we were there. In addition, we were told that (1) there was a lot of mist hiding the mountains, but (2) the viewing had been excellent the day before we arrived and (3) would be excellent again the day after we left.

The night before we checked out, there was a heavy storm, with thunder and lightning, lasting about a half hour. At dawn the next morning, before the sun was fully up, we saw that the lawn was covered in hail stones. Downstairs on the breakfast terrace, we could clearly see even more mountains behind and higher than any we had seen before. The storm had cleared the air and gave us the view we had come for.
This photo was taken on Tuesday, 28 October 2014, with an Olympus TG-3 camera. Settings were f/6.3, 1/320 second, ISO 100, and focal length 18 mm (35mm equivalent focal length of 100 mm).

Le Corbeau et le Renard (The Crow and the Fox)

Jean de La Fontaine, a 17th century French poet, is best known for his 239 fables, published over 26 years as the 12 volume Fables.  His earlier works are based mainly on the classical fables by Aesop, Babrius, and Phaedrus. From the beginning, his fables have been familiar to the French reader of literature; they have been learned by generations of French school children.

The first two volumes of selected fables were published in 1668, dedicated to Louis, son of Louis XIV (the Sun King) and Maria Theresa.  The six-year-old Dauphin would have been one of the first to enjoy the fable The Crow and the Fox, which is the subject of this post.


       Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché,
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître Renard, par l’odeur alléché,
Lui tint à peu près ce langage :
Et bonjour, Monsieur du Corbeau,
Que vous êtes joli ! que vous me semblez beau !
Sans mentir, si votre ramage
Se rapporte à votre plumage,
Vous êtes le Phénix des hôtes de ces bois.
À ces mots le Corbeau ne se sent pas de joie,
Et pour montrer sa belle voix,
Il ouvre un large bec, laisse tomber sa proie.
Le Renard s’en saisit, et dit : Mon bon Monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l’écoute.
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage sans doute.
Le Corbeau honteux et confus
Jura, mais un peu tard, qu’on ne l’y prendrait plus.

The translation below is by Robert Thomson.

THE CROW AND FOX (Book I, Fable 2)
Perched on a tree sat Master Crow
While in his beak he held a cheese ;
Lured by the smell stood Master Fox below,
And hailed him in such words as these :
“ What ! Master Crow ! good day ! how be ye ?
’Pon honour I am glad to see ye !
How beautiful, how handsome ye appear !
How I should like to hear your note !
For if your warbling’s like your coat,
You are the phoenix of the forests here. ”
At this the crow could not enough rejoice,
Opened a large beak to show his pretty voice ;
Down dropt the precious prey . . .
Which Reynard seized, and ran away,
Leaving this short adieu :
“ Learn, my good fellow, that the flattering crew
Live at the cost of those they slyly please ;
I hope my lesson’s worth your cheese. ”
The Crow too late, ashamed, and full of pain
Swore they should never bilk him so again

The City of Paris erected a statue honoring La Fontaine in 1891, located at the intersection of avenues Ingres and Ranelagh in the Square du Ranelagh, near La Muette – Auteuil, in the  16th arrondissement. In 1983, a new bronze statue replaced the original, while the base is still engraved in stone:

This monument erected by public subscription with the support of the State and the City of Paris was inaugurated July 26, 1891.

The monument shows La Fontaine looking down at the crow, who is taunting the fox with a cheese round.

These photos show La Fontaine.

These photos are closeups of the crow and fox. Notice that someone has placed a coin resembling the cheese in the fox’s mouth.

These photos were taken in Paris, France, on 9 October 2015 with an Olympus TG-4 camera.


North Carolina Transportation Museum

The North Carolina Transportation Museum is a 60-acre look into the past of the Southern Railroad’s steam locomotive repair facility in Spencer, North Carolina. The museum’s four large buildings include the Back Shop, the Master Mechanic’s Office, the Flue Shop, and the Bob Julian Roundhouse of the historic Spencer Shops. There are also auto and aviation exhibits.

The museum is open every day of the week except Monday. There is an admission fee for the museum; for twice this fee, visitors can also enjoy a 25-minute narrated train ride on the property, pulled by an antique diesel engine, in addition to viewing the museum exhibits.

Visitors can also (for additional fees) ride in the diesel cab with the engineer or ride the turntable. There are other on-site special programs (e.g., birthday caboose), tours, and events (e.g., Day Out with Thomas, Polar Express train ride).

Scenic day trip excursions are offered this year to Charlottesville, Virginia, on October 29 and to Toccoa, Georgia, on  October 30. The fare per person ranges from $160 to $1120, depending on amenities.

For more information about the North Carolina Transportation Museum and its offerings, visit the website at http://www.nctrans.org/.

Beaufort Old Burying Ground

The Old Burying Ground in Beaufort, North Carolina, was established in 1709 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The entrance is off Ann Street, just west of Ann Street Methodist Church. Visitors are welcome.

Beaufort Old Burying Ground

There are stone markers from simple to elaborate; the earliest markers were made of shells, brick, or wood, due to the scarcity of stone.  This simple headstone for Susanna Thomas (1771 – 1808), wife (consort) of a Captain Thomas, is shaped like a gate, that is, the gateway to heaven.

Headstone for Susanna Thomas

Many graves have vaulted covers of brick, for protection from animals and flooding.

The trees have leaned together companionably to watch over the inhabitants.

Of the many graves here, 28 graves are marked as sites of interest.  The headstone of Susanna Thomas, described above, is at Marker 2. Four more are described below.

The grave of Captain Otway Burns (1775 – 1850) is located at Marker 22. Captain Burns was a naval hero in the War of 1812, a privateer, a member of the North Carolina legislature, and finally a lighthouse keeper near Portsmouth,NC, where he died. Burnsville, NC, is named for him.

Grave of Captain Otway Burns

The grave of Lafayette Leecraft, M.D. (1837 – 1864) is located at Marker 28. His monument is notable for its broken appearance, which symbolizes a life cut short.

Headstone for Lafayette Leecraft, M.D.

The grave of Captain Christian Wulff (1810 – 1856) is located at Marker 25. Captain Wulff of the Royal Danish Navy died of yellow fever in Beaufort even though Beaufort ladies diligently nursed him. His sister sent the headstone from Denmark, but she herself died at sea during a voyage to visit his grave.

Headstone for Captain Christian Wulff

Possibly the saddest grave is located at Marker 24. This is the “Girl in Barrel of Rum.” This girl was brought to Beaufort from England in the 1770s as an infant with her family. She persuaded her family to allow her to visit her homeland; her father, who accompanied her, promised her mother to bring her home safely. However, she died at sea on the voyage home. Rather than bury his daughter at sea, the father brought her body home in a barrel of rum. This grave is popular with children, who cover it with childish gifts.

Only five graves are pictured in this blog, but there are many more fascinating stories. If you are ever in this area, you are encouraged to spend an hour or so in this peaceful spot.

For more information about the Old Burying Ground, visit the official website at http://beauforthistoricsite.org/old-burying-ground/. A map of the graveyard can be downloaded from this site, in case you would like to locate any of the graves described in this post.