10 February 2008


I like maps. I love maps. Map coloration, it seems to me, is used in three ways: aesthetically, practically, and politically. Color is a big part of what they are, especially when they are enjoyed for their aesthetics. Whoever said maps were merely tools (the carto-bureaucrats, in their map libraries; I know, I worked as one at Ohio University) were not speaking for me, a mapperist by heart.

From childhood to this day I have delighted in the splotches of map colors on my walls, whether at school or home, to just gaze at, stare at, get lost in. My walls are swimming in cartographic sea-blue. My shower curtain (yes!) doubles as a map of the U.S., mostly of some bluish-celadon hue. The map of China on my wall at school is colored vibrant deep purple, fuchsia, teal, etc.

I am now gazing at the map above my computer: a laminated tropical storm-tracking map of Middle America and Southeast U.S. and surrounding bodies of water. This faux-antique wall map/wall art is tinted mostly in two hues: sunburnt orange for the Spanish Main, and aquamarine for oceans and seas, the actual color of the Caribbean Sea. When gazing at this chart, I daydream about visiting Cuba someday (Basta! Enough travel guides already!) or returning to Jamaica, Martinique, or Haiti, whose buildings by the hundreds are washed very nearly this same dusty, mango-flesh tinge.

Color is integral to each map. It induces thoughts. It enhances dreams of transmarine swashbuckling adventure. And the palettes of maps are enjoyable in their own right.

Colorful wall maps make me feel I live in a geographer’s atelier.

No comments: