"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Country at top of world, No. 119 on the blog

Mountains speak to me, and to many others, but I imagine they speak no louder anyplace in the world that in Nepal, where a reader clicked on the blog this week, making it the 119th country to have done so.
"The roof of the world" sounds trite, and understates this place I've always dream of visiting for two reasons. The first is the mountains. Nepal is home to the world's highest point, Mt.Everest, (Sagarmatha (सगरमाथा) in Nepali, "Forehead of the Sky"), at 29,029 feet, on the northern border with Tibet/China...and the country is home to 240 Himalayan peaks topping 20,000 feet.
It's not all mountains however, with a fertile, humid lowlands in the south. The other reason I'd like to visit is the name of its capital, Kathmandu. That is just so beckoning of adventure and being far away. I've been fortunate to have one Nepalese student here at UCO.
The country is a little larger than Arkansas and a little smaller than Oklahoma. It stretches 487 miles from from east to west, and from 150 to 250 miles wide, landlocked between Tibet--now ruled by China--and India, with a population of about 27 million.
About 80 percent of the population are Hindus, and, although Gautama Buddha was born in the country, about nine percent Buddhist.
The country was a monarchy  from 1768 until 2008, when a civil war ended and a federal multi-part republic was adopted. There is still turmoil between  the communist party and others, and elections are scheduled for this November.
The flag is unique in the world, the only one not a square or rectangle. Based on a design almost 2,000 years old, red is the national  color and that of the rhododendron. Blue symbolizes beach, and the triangles perhaps the mountains, the two symbols the permanence of the universe. (Some Material for this post came from Wikipedia.)
View a YouTube video of a flight over Everest below:
This gives me a chance to quote my favorite writer, John McPhee, who writes about geography. In Basin and Range, he wrote: "When the climbers in 1953 planted their flags on the highest mountain, they set them in snow over the skeletons of creatures that had lived in the warm clear ocean that India, moving north, blanked out. Possibly as much as twenty thousand feet below the seafloor, the skeletal remains had turned into rock. This one fact is a treatise in itself on the movements of the surface of the earth. If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence, this is the one I would choose: The summit of Mt. Everest is marine limestone."
At the top are 400-million-year-old fossils--the bones and shells of creatures that died in ancient seas--Ordovician limestone. The Himalayas began forming about 65 million years ago when the Indo-Australian plate of the earth's crust moved north and under the Eurasian plate, pushing the rocks up. 
The earth's crustal plates are still moving, India going north more than an inch a year, and the mountains rising up to 10 millimeters a year. That gives you an idea of how long this took, pushing mountains up more than five miles. We are small, and brief indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it awesome to see all the different countries that follow your blog?! I love it too! Technology these days. :)

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