Smith Island 消失中的史密斯岛

Smith Island is a lonely outpost, 12 miles out in the lower Chesapeake Bay. The shallow glassy waters around the cluster of islands that comprise Smith Island are some of the best blue crab habitat in the bay. For more than 300 years the people here have endured nature’s hardships. But increasingly, they sense that a more precarious future lies ahead. The watermen are bringing in smaller catches and profits falling down. The population has dropped from more than 800 to about 300 over the last 100 years and Smith Island is losing its land. Most of the island is only one foot above sea level. The higher areas where the people live are just 2 to 4 feet above the water. Coastal ecologists say the Chesapeake Bay has risen by more than a half foot over the past century and continues to swallow the land. Crumbling wooden crab shacks and battered bulwarks are testimony to the island’s vulnerability to the sea. To help the islanders beat back to bay, the Army Corps of Engineers launched a plan to install new bulkheads and stone breakwaters around Tylerton, part of a multimillion-dollar plan to slow erosion and persuade people to stay. Despite this project, Smith Island may be running out of time.

If a hurricane category four comes up and actually hits this island, I think it could be flooded. It probably is the case that over the next century that if we can’t get control of the greenhouse gases, that we probably will have a few high spots, but not much more.

Most people hope that the new efforts to stem erosion can at least delay the inevitable, so that one or two more generations can make a living here at the edge of the sea.

世界上的有些地方因为温室效应而正面临着被海水淹没的危险,位于美国北部马里兰州的史密斯岛就是其中一个。这座小岛在哪里呢?史密斯岛位于切萨皮克湾(Chesapeake Bay),这个湾是一条宽而长的大溺谷,由南向北伸入内陆,把马里兰州分为东西两部分。看下面的两幅图你就明白这座小岛大约在什么地方了。

Smith Island 史密斯岛

Smith Island 史密斯岛
有人把史密斯岛形容为一个即将退役的哨兵。这里没有政府办公部门,没有镇长,没有警察局,只有从17世纪延续下来的风俗和邻里之间的和睦情谊。上升的海平面在20世纪的100年里,吞噬了史密斯岛400多公顷土地。现在,岛上大部分地区仅高出海平面大约30厘米,最高的地方也只比海平面高1米左右。

生态学家推算,20世纪切萨皮克湾海平面上升了大约30厘米。 潮起潮落,岛上的居民都明白,总有一天他们的家园会消失在海浪之中;但是他们还是希望这一天能够晚一些到来。

New Words and Phrases

outpost n. 偏远的地方
precarious a.(情势)不稳的; 不确定的
blue crab habitat 蓝蟹栖居地
Crumbling wooden crab shacks 摇摇欲坠的螃蟹木棚
Army Corps of Engineers 陆军工程兵
launched a plan 开始了一项计划
erosion 侵蚀

Roosevelt Park 西奥多·罗斯福国家公园

西奥多·罗斯福国家公园概况
所在地:西北达科他
建立日期:1978年
面积:285平方公里
地形:牧草地和崎岖地
主要景点:麋鹿角(Elkhorn)农场和罗斯福故居
野生动物:野牛、鹿、麋鹿、叉角羚羊、野马、美洲狮(非常罕见)、牧羊狗、草地鹨、弱小哺乳动物以及蛇
活动项目:护林员导游、交流会、游览泰迪·罗斯福的马泰塞·克罗斯(Maltese Cross)故居以及傍晚篝火节目;长途徒步旅行;赛马;乘汽车旅游;划艇;漂流;钓鱼;越野滑雪;雪地机动车赛和背包徒步旅行

座落在北达科他州崎岖地,位于埤斯麦以西217.3公里处的这座国家公园,以西奥多·罗斯福总统名字命名,这是向这位伟大的总统和他身为自然资源保护主义者精神的致敬。公园屹立在19世纪80年代罗斯福总统所拥有的土地上,当时,他为了帮助摆脱失去妻子和母亲的痛苦而来到西部,购买了这个养牛场。

这里是动植物的家园,物种丰富,包括野牛、草原土拨鼠以及麋鹿等,该公园还有许多可供旅游者观赏之处。在这里,旅行者可以从舒适的自驾车上欣赏美景,也可以体验徒步旅行或骑车穿过公园100多米的小道所带来的快感。

On the northern prairie of North Dakota, the day starts with a distinctive rhythm. Bison prepare for the mating season. The bulls bellow challenges that echo across the badlands. Prairie dogs bark shrill warnings at the approach of an intruder.

“You will be riding in a wilderness environment.”

And riders mount up to explore an area still best-travelled on horseback. All this is the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt, who first visited and rode about this land in 1883.

“Well, probably the most profound item that he wrote about constantly was the solitude that one can find riding through the badlands. He found the beauty, you know, interested, he wrote about the grimly picturesque badlands which kinda describes this area perfectly today.”

“Theodore Roosevelt came out here in 1883 to hunt for a buffalo or bison. It was his dream to get one possibly before they were all gone.”

Roosevelt bagged his bison and went back east to a promising political career, not realizing he would soon return to the badlands. The Maltese Cross Cabin was Roosevelt’s first home here. It was a refuge from personal tragedy and political disappointment. Today the badlands Roosevelt roamed and loved are a national park that bears his name.

“We can not talk about conservation and national park service without talking about Theodore Roosevelt. During his term of presidency, he helped to establish five national parks. He also used a law, the Antiquities Act to set aside 18 national monuments.”

Theodore Roosevelt National Park preserves a prairie ecosystem that’s become increasingly rare.

“There’s a couple of plain.”

There are some things here Roosevelt wouldn’t recognize. By the 1880s, bison had been hunted nearly out of existence in this badlands. Since they were reintroduced in the 1950s, the herd has grown. Perhaps the thing that has changed the least here is solitude.

“I love going out to backcountry and hearing the nothingness, the quietness and experiencing the same thing that Theodore Roosevelt wrote about.”

He wrote of listening to the rustle of the cottonwood leaves, of winding his way among the barren, fantastic and grimly picturesque deserts of the badlands, a feeling and an attraction to the lonely freedom of the wilderness. That feeling is as real today as it was then.

New Words

badlands n. 荒地
intruder n. 侵入者,干扰者,妨碍者
solitude n. 孤独
grimly adv. 严格地,冷酷地,可怕地
picturesque adj. 如画的,生动的,别致的
refuge n. 避难(处), 庇护(所)

Memoirs of a Melbourne geisha

For most people in the Western world, the geisha is as quintessentially Japanese as the samurai, sushi and sakura. Yet the 400-year-old world of the geisha remains a mystery even to most Japanese, its doors firmly closed to outsiders until now.

The newest geisha on the block is in fact an Australian – Fiona Graham – who caused a stir in December 2007 when she became the first Western geisha. jstyle reports on her fascinating transformation from Melbourne born schoolgirl to a woman living and breathing this centuries-old Japanese tradition.

Born and raised in Melbourne, Fiona Graham was once a typical Australian schoolgirl with little more than a passing interest in Japan. But when she turned 15, opportunity knocked and she was given the chance to spend a year in Japan as an exchange student. Craving adventure like most teenagers, she decided to go.

“At that time, rather than being interested in Japanese culture, I just knew I really wanted to go somewhere!” she recalls with a laugh. “I didn’t really know anything about Japan. As an exchange student, you get to see the most enjoyable parts of Japan. I was always being taken to lots of interesting places and the whole experience was just so much fun.”

Having gained such a positive first impression, Graham’s interest in Japan and its culture continued and so did her chances to stay there. When she was accepted into Tokyo’s prestigious Keio University (庆应义塾大学) as the first female foreign student, she knew it was an opportunity too good to pass up. She studied psychology and after graduating, began working in Japan. “Before I knew it I had ended up staying in Japan for 10 years straight.”,she says.

Since then, Graham has completed an MBA at Oxford University and a PhD in social anthropology, specialising in Japanese culture. She shares her knowledge and expertise through lecturing, writing books on Japan and making anthropological documentaries, and it was for her latest project that she first stepped onto the path leading to the unique world of the Japanese geisha.

The Western world’s fascination with geisha has reached new heights in recent years with the popularity of Arthur Golden’s novel Memoirs of a Geisha and the 2005 Hollywood film based on the bestseller. While most Australian fans looked forward to seeing the romantic story of the heroine, Sayuri, on the big screen, Graham had a different reaction to the news a film was in the works.

“I knew (the film Memoirs of a Geisha) was being produced by Western men in Hollywood so I knew what sort of movie it was going to be,”she says. Both the film and Golden’s novel are entirely fictional but for Western audiences unfamiliar with the geisha world, it would understandably be difficult to differentiate from reality. This was unacceptable for Graham and motivated her to overturn the enduring stereotype.

“Westerners have a very mistaken image of geisha as women who are completely submissive to men and do exactly as they are told without any will of their own,” Graham says. “Reality is completely different. Geisha are independent working women.”

To tell the world the truth, Graham decided to become a geisha herself and film her experiences inside the geisha world.

From the few remaining geisha districts known as karyuukai (literally “flower and willow world”), Graham chose to undertake her training in the district of Asakusa, one of six “geisha worlds” in Tokyo. When asked why she chose Asakusa and not the better-known Kyoto karyuukai, she offers a number of reasons. “I had only ever lived in Tokyo before, and there was already a book written about the Kyoto geisha world 30 years ago but no books about the Tokyo geisha, so I decided I’d like to stay here (in Tokyo),” she says.

“The Tokyo geisha world also has a lot of history. The Asakusa karyuukai has existed for several hundred years.” Asakusa happens to be the most famous tourist destination in Tokyo, particularly popular with foreigners.

“I think the atmosphere here is the most evocative of old Edo – the Tokyo of the past. It is a really colourful area to film and there are events on every month, in which geisha participate, so I thought that would be really fun.”

No matter what her reasons, the Asakusa geisha world would certainly have been surprised to receive Graham’s application to enter. “It is unprecedented for a foreigner to become a geisha so it wasn’t easy to be accepted,” she says.

“It took some time persuading everyone in the geisha world. Fortunately I had the support of Keio University alumni and people who have a lot of influence in that world. Without that, the world of the geisha would have been quite impossible to enter.”

In the face of Graham’s enthusiasm and the support of those around her, the gates were finally opened. She was introduced to an okiya (a house where a geisha lives, trains and bases herself throughout her career) and commenced geisha training.

Before the war, it was common for girls training to be geisha to enter an okiya from childhood, but according to Graham, the training period in the geisha world of Asakusa today is usually only about one year. During that time, a geisha-in-training will work as a waitress in a traditional restaurant where she can observe and learn from experienced geisha, as well as studying the ancient arts of tea ceremony, dance, taiko (Japanese drum) and yokobue (Japanese flute), and the countless customs and etiquette, which are drummed into her by her “okaasan” (literally “mother”), the head of the okiya.

Graham says she didn’t receive any special treatment because she was a foreigner. “A geisha is a geisha,” she says matter-of-factly. “I don’t sense any difference between them (other geisha) as Japanese and me as a foreigner. We’re all linked by being geisha.”

The hardest part of training for Graham was learning to sit in the seiza position (traditional formal style of kneeling). “Geisha don’t use zabuton (Japanese cushion for sitting),” she says. “An ozashiki (banquet) lasts at least two hours so you need to be able to sit for that length of time. Even if your legs go numb there’s nothing you can do about it so you just have to get used to it quickly. An elderly oneesan (literally “big sister”, used to refer to senior geisha) told me that even being one kilo too heavy makes it hard, so I made an effort to lose weight after that and it became easier.”

Among the traditional arts, Graham was most confident playing yokobue and decided to make that her speciality, but even there she faced challenges. “I had played flute before so I know how to produce a nice sound, but it is still really difficult because the timing of Japanese music is so different to Western music … I still have a long way to go in my training,” she says.

Even for Graham, who had lived in Japan for many years and can speak fluent Japanese, her training was harder than she expected. But last December, having mastered both arts and etiquette, she finally made her official debut as a geisha.

In line with tradition, Graham’s geisha name includes the character “yuki” from her okaasan’s name, Yukiko. On the day of her debut, Graham visited all the senior geisha, okiya, traditional restaurants and teahouses in the Asakusa geisha district, paying her respects to more than 100 people connected with the geisha world before attending her first ozashiki as a professional geisha. And so “Sayuki”, the first foreign geisha, was born.

Today, Sayuki leads a very busy life. Her days typically begin with an hour or two of tutored study in the arts of tea ceremony or dance, followed by more hours of individual practice. A geisha is essentially one who possesses “gei” (arts). As an entertainment and service professional, a geisha has to keep polishing these skills throughout her entire career. Sayuki also participates in the many events held in and around Asakusa, while her evenings are spent attending up to three or four banquet engagements.

Trying to dispel the romanticised idea of geisha as powerless beauties in a male-controlled world, she points out that being a geisha is not unlike an ordinary job. “(Being a geisha) is like being a private businessperson – you have to be quite firm and level-headed. An okiya is basically a business and the okaasan is like the head of a small company. It’s so different to the image of geisha being men’s playthings,” she says.

Sayuki takes obvious pride in belonging to this traditional Japanese profession, which she describes as “the best experience of Japanese culture” and studies diligently everyday.

As for her documentary film, she is using her spare time to film her experiences as a geisha and intends to release the completed work in several countries including Australia. She is also planning a visit to Australia with the other Asakusa geisha as part of her larger goal of introducing geisha culture to the general public.

“I’m trying to teach people about geisha culture. I’m currently hoping for an invitation to Australia so I can visit Japanese Studies departments at Australian universities or participate in festivals and the like,” she says, then adds, “I’d be really grateful for support from any sponsors.”

Having become a geisha for a social anthropological project, Graham won’t retire as soon as her film is finished. “Originally I did start this as a project but I think it’s gone beyond that now,” she says.

“I was able to become a geisha, the first foreigner to achieve that, which is something I’m really thankful for. I feel like I have to make the most of it by working hard to become a first-class geisha.”

Immersed and inspired by this unique element of Japanese culture, Graham, or Sayuki, is taking the historical geisha world into the 21st century.

The Secret Life of Geisha 艺伎真实生活记录(1-2)

艺伎,字面上的含意为“以艺术为生”,她们是日本文化与艺术的缩影。每个艺伎都要经过严格的训练,学习茶道、书法、乐器、舞蹈、礼节等等。男人们用餐时,她们跪在旁边斟酒上菜,微笑着和他们聊天。待到酒过三旬后,艺伎开始表演以活跃气氛,不论是弹奏乐器或是演唱情歌。艺伎一生就是为了服侍日本上流社会中的达官显贵、富商阔佬,人们只能在那些豪华的茶店酒楼和隐密的日本料亭中看到她们的身影。艺伎浓妆的脸上几乎看不出喜怒哀乐,她们的世界始终保持着一种神秘感。BBC出品,The Secret Life of Geisha带领观众走进艺伎的真实生活。

For 400 years they have existed, timeless in the changing world, once the playthings of Shogun(将军), the favorites of Samurai(武士). Their sealed lips have kept silent as Japan has changed more than any nation on earth. They cheered their Kamikaze heroes, and then became sweethearts of American GIs. Geisha have endured in a world sheltered behind the walls of secrecy and discretion. But finally the veil hiding the geisha has lifted, and we enter their forbidden world.

Japan is one of the most advanced countries on earth. Technology is an obsession. The nation’s pursuit of efficiency creates rapid change. Yet for centuries the Japanese have sheltered an extraordinary tradition— geisha. The geisha are the delicate guardians of ancient customs and honorable past living in the present. Their world is closed to the public. They lived shrouded in secrecy and steeped in ritual. They move a storable land of perfume, gardens and ornate temples, but make their living in dark backstreets and hidden teahouses.

American writer Arthur Golden fell under the spell of this mysterious tradition. He spent ten years researching his novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, which would become an international best-seller. “It fascinated me, what I’ve learnt. It’s so closed to outsiders. They really don’t like people coming in and poking around and learning their secrets.” Arthur Golden had to break the seal of silence surrounding the geisha world. He faced a near impossible task something like entering a closed religious alter.

Before I began this research if you asked me what a Geisha was, I’m sure I would have told you what every American word of, except that I knew at least that they are not strictly prostitutes. It wasn’t quite that simple. But I certainly didn’t understand the role they played or why they played it. And I’ve come to see the way that Geisha figure into Japanese society as being something quite unique.

Exotic and alluring, geisha live in a world where refinement and grace are everything, yet love is garment of illusion. A perfect surface is what matters. Locked away from everyday life, geisha are the preserve of a selected elite, the automated expression of prestige and status.

For most, it is rare even to catch a glimpse of a Geisha. They have become revered and celebrated symbols of Japan. In Kyoto, the ancient capital, an annual event celebrates Japan’s most honored traditions including the Geisha. The Cherry Blossom Festival is a rare and much anticipated chance for the public to gaze upon the most private tradition of all.

The Geisha are on display wrapped in all their silk finery, women who are emblems of both history and sensuality. But behind their painted faces and delicate smiles is a difficult and intricate way of life.

New Words and Phrases

timeless adj. 无限的,永恒的
plaything n. 玩具,玩物
Kamikaze n. <日> (第二次世界大战期间日本空军敢死队)神风特攻队
GI n. 美国兵 vt. 为检阅而打扫 adj. 美国军用的,美国军人的 adv. 军纪严格地
veil n. 面纱,掩饰物,修女 vt. 给 … 戴面纱或面罩 vi. 带面纱或面罩
obsession n. 困扰,沉迷,着魔,妄想
shelter n. 庇护所,避难所,庇护 v. 庇护,保护,隐匿
delicate n. 精美的东西 adj. 精美的,微妙的,美味的,纤细的,脆弱的,敏锐的
guardian n. 保护人,监护人
ancient custom 古风
honorable adj. 光荣的,可敬的,尊敬的 = honourable(英)
shroud n. 寿衣,覆盖物,[航海]船之横桅索 v. 包以尸衣,遮蔽,隐藏,笼罩
v. <古>掩盖,保护 n. <古>保护
steep adj. 陡峭的,险峻的,(价格)过高的 n. 陡坡,浸泡,浸泡液 v. 浸泡,沉浸
ritual n. 仪式,典礼,宗教仪式,固定程序 adj. 仪式的,老规矩的,惯常的
storable adj. 可储存的 n. 耐贮藏物品
ornate adj. 装饰的,华丽的

Smart Travels 香港行 (1-2)

Smart Travels 香港篇—1

Hi, I’m Rudy Maxa, venturing to the shores of Asia and one of the world’s most thrilling destinations. We’re about to discover why great travel experiences are made in Hong Kong. Next up, it’s Hong Kong, on Smart Travels.

Smart Travels is a grand tour of the world’s great destinations, the people, places, and unique local flavors. Now, tips, trips, and secret places on Smart Travels Pacific Rim.

When you catch your first glimpse of Hong Kong and the skyline unfolds above the harbor, your heart is sure to beat a little faster. No doubt about it, there’s something exciting here. From futuristic skyscrapers to incense-filled temples, from hoards of shoppers to bobbing wooden boats, the many faces of China are revealed in this dramatic Pacific Rim city.

Hong Kong is a magnificent balancing act, effortlessly juggling east and west, past and present, commerce and mysticism. Although it was a prized colony in the British Empire until 1997, Hong Kong is firmly rooted in Chinese culture.

This city anchors on the southwest corner of China. We’ll explore the downtown core that straddles Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. Then we’ll escape the crowds as we visit Sai Kung Park, Lantau Island, and some historic sites in the New Territories.

Westerners find Hong Kong an easy introduction to Asia. Arriving at the city’s ultramodern airport, you’ll quickly discover that all signs here, as well as in the city, are in both English and Chinese. And most businesses cater to English speakers.

To begin, we’ll hit Hong Kong’s number one tourist attraction – the tram that climbs Victoria Peak. This is the world’s steepest funicular railway and it feels like it.

Smart Travels 香港篇—2

Before the tram was built, a ride up to the peak meant a three-hour trip by sedan chair. By 1888, the tram had reduced that time to about seven minutes.

In the early days of colonial rule, before air-conditioning and refrigeration, the British discovered they could get relief from the heat by living up here on the top of Victoria peak.

Only society’s upper crust was allowed to build houses at these lofty heights. To this day, some of Hong Kong’s most expensive homes are here. For visitors like us, the lookout provides magnificent views of the city and harbor. Wong Tai Sin is Hong Kong’s most popular Taoist temple. It was named after a legendary shepherd who acquired a powerful art of healing. Chinese temples are typically built with red pillars, golden roofs, and multicolored carvings.

Hong Kong escaped the religious repression that spread through communist China during much of the 20th century. While many temples were destroyed on the mainland, hundreds here remained intact.

Traditional Chinese religious practices often weave together elements of Taoism, Buddhism and other ancient belief systems, something the Chinese don’t find incompatible. There’s no special day set aside for worship. People simply stop by a temple whenever they want to pay their respects or feel the need for spiritual guidance.

Tao essentially means the way of the universe. Taoists believe that there are many different gods who actively intervene in daily life. Believers try to honor the gods with incense and other offerings in order to attain good fortune. Since Taoists believe in luck, you’ll often find fortune tellers at these temples. They might read palms and study facial features, as well as consult astrological birth charts and fortune cards.

魅力France

Hi, I’m Petty Kim. Whether you are on a mission to see some of Europe’s finest art, sample cutting-edge(领先的) cuisine or simply just soak up the cultural ambience(气氛), France can seduce you with it all.

A Paris, known as the City of Lights and the City of Lovers, one of the best things to do in the city: clunk yourself down in a cafe and wile away(消磨) an afternoon, sipping un café and people-watching.

The best way to see Paris is on foot. Skip the metro, put on a good pair of walking shoes and check out for sites. From the Arc de Triomphe(凯旋门), stroll down the Champs Elysées(香榭丽舍大道) , adds the Grand & Petit Palais(大小皇宫) to the Place de la Concorde(协和广场). For a change of pace, get your art fits at the Louvre(卢浮宫) and the Pompidou Centre(蓬皮杜艺术中心). Cross the river Seine(塞纳河) and tour Notre Dame Cathedral(巴黎圣母院), once on the left bank visit the Saint Pont(圣米歇尔桥) before heading westward to Les Invalides(荣军院) and finishing at the Eiffel(埃菲尔铁塔)tower.

But Paris could just be the first stop on your personal tour de France. Cruise westward down the Loire River Valley(卢瓦尔河谷), its renaissance air chateaus(城堡) and palaces seem straight out of a fairy tale.

For another magical ride, take a train to the Normandy coast and Mont Saint Michel(圣米歇尔山). Rising from its rocking shores, the 1300-year-old Benedictine Abbey(本笃会修道院) at low tide is connected to the land. But as the tide rises, it transforms into an island. Over the years, it served as a monastery(修道院), fortress, prison and today one of France’s top tourist draws.

The south of France is famous for its Riviera(里维埃拉) beaches and jet-set resorts(富人的度假胜地), but that overlooks the area’s many other charms.

For a taste of opulence(富丽堂皇), see Avignon’s(阿维尼翁,城市名) Paple Palaces(教皇宫), or take a sweet-smelling tour of the historic perfume factories of Grasse(格拉斯,香水之都). If you are interested in high cuisine(高菜,精心制作的法国菜), you can try your hand and hunting for truffles(松露), a pungent fungus cherished by the world’s great chefs and sometimes worth more per ounce than gold.

Or of course you might simply relax and enjoy the beautiful countryside. France is a travelers’ delight in any season, packed with pleasures for historians, nature lovers, artists and urbanites(都市人) alike.

Bon voyage.(旅途愉快)