Twelve-thousand years ago, indigenous peoples lived in the area now known as Vermont. Later, the same region was known for the Abenaki and Mohawk tribes. The French arrived and war ensued with the British until finally Vermont became part of the United States. Fast forward to today and Vermont is home to a massive, beautiful forest known for its autumn extravagance as well as more winter sports places than any other location in New England. Vermont is also known for its iconic dairy barns even though farming has declined over the years. The name ‘Vermont’ may have originated from the french ‘Les Mont Vers’ which means ‘the green mountains.’
The word ‘autumn’ comes from an ancient Etruscan root word, ‘autu’, which suggests the passing of the year. The other popular word for the season, ‘fall’, is perhaps used more frequently than autumn in the U.S. The most significant part of autumn is the turning of the leaves, when the days grow shorter and colder. Many people visit New England and Canada just to enjoy the spectacular show of gold, orange and red leaves. In fact, it’s a multi-billion dollar tourist industry and well-worth every penny for the sightseers.
Seventy-percent of Finland is covered in forest and the national animal is the brown bear, also known as the grizzly bear here in the U.S. Finland is a beautiful country with over 168,000 lakes and 179,000 islands. Finland has long, significant relationships with two of its neighbors: Russia and Sweden. Helsinki, for instance, became the capital of Finland when Russia, under its empirical authority over Finland, moved the capital from Turku to Helsinki. Finland declared its independence during the Russian Revolution. Saunas and wood-burning fireplaces are essential features in any Finnish home.
Having developed late as a European city, Helsinki is unique in that it doesn’t have a Medieval past. In the late 13th century, Swedes began colonizing the coastline of the Helsinki area but it wasn’t until the 1500’s that the town of Helsinki was born. It was first established by King Gustav I of Sweden as a trading town. Later, the Russians took control of Finland and moved the capital from Turku to Helsinki which brought the city closer to St. Petersburg. Old Helsinki has the distinction of having been designed by the Russians and has an overall feel similar to St. Petersburg.
Prepare to enjoy a host of photos on today’s blog, all about Sussex, England. This county in the south of Britain is next door to Kent, which I covered last week. Sussex has an official motto that means ‘we will not be pushed around’. Because of the southerly location of Sussex and having a long coastline, the weather in Sussex is some of the sunniest in Britain. If you’re looking for literary associations, many famous authors were born or lived in Sussex like H.G. Wells, Virginia Woolf and the Scotsman, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Known as campanula, bellflowers are a diverse plant that originated in the Mediterranean area. Being adaptable, this flower is also found high in the mountains where some varieties can tolerate frost. The flowers live up to the name and are shaped like an open bell, usually with five lobes on each blossom. The colors of bellflowers vary as well in a range of lavender to purple as well as white, blue and pink. Bellflowers also vary significantly in height. Some species are quite compact and serve well as border plants while others, that are generally woodland varieties, can grow over six feet tall. One variety of bellflowers, commonly known as rampion, among other names, was originally grown as a food source for its radish-like roots.
Because of its location in the southeast of England as well as its 21-mile proximity to France across the English Channel, the county of Kent has been threatened by invasion since Roman times. One result of this vulnerability is that Kent has 26 castles all built originally for defense. Kent is a land of great natural beauty with the rolling North Downs and the High Weald. The latter is an area characterized by a ‘mosaic of small farms and woodlands, historic parks, sunken lanes and ridge-top villages.’ The High Weald also contains ancient woodlands.
Though originally from Europe, Africa and Asia, foxglove is often found in seed mixes for wildflowers in the U.S. Foxglove is a gorgeous, stately plant that produces a spike in its second year with an abundance of curved, trumpet-like flowers. These spikes can grow quite tall and sometimes need to be staked. Foxglove is a familiar flower in English cottage gardens. It is known by the scientific name, ‘digitalis’, is a highly toxic plant and is used for making certain heart medications.
The Tai People moved from China into the region now known as Thailand around the 11th century. The country was known for a long time as Siam but became Thailand in 1932 after a ‘bloodless revolution’. The elephant is the national symbol of Thailand and tourists today can ride elephant-back into the countryside. From Chiang Mai in the north to Bangkok in the middle and Phuket Island in the south, Thailand is a country of tremendous natural beauty, over forty thousand Buddhist Temples, and warm, friendly people.
Chiang Mai Thailand
With over 300 Buddhist temples, Chiang Mai has a long spiritual tradition and culture. The city and province of Chiang Mai is located in Northern Thailand and is home to over a million people. The area is mountainous, but the climate is warm year-round. Elephants are an important aspect of Chiang Mai life and tours can be taken on elephant-back to trek through the nearby mountains.