"Even our climate is an excitant. Much of America is subject to great extremes of weather. Save in the low portions of the South and the South Pacific coast, bitter winters follow torrid summers. The range of temperature is enormous; and its rhythm is uncertain. The four seasons are scrambled. One may bake of a morning, shiver by noon, and swelter again by night. Yesterday I went up to the highlands east of the Hudson and lay in the warm grass and watched the grandiose river sparkle and slumber beneath his Palisades. Today there is a driving snow-storm, and it is almost April. Such unceasing climax unsettles the human organism: keys it up: splinters the norm of nervous register into a flux. And the suspense of nerve reacts upon the temperament. The physiography of our world bears the stamp of titanic struggle. America is vivid and vibrant beyond the scales of temperate Europe. The Southwest throbs with shrill reds and golds of earth and blues of sky. Rocky New England swoons every summer in a purple verdure that cries against the browns and blacks of the soil. The entire backbone of the continent from the Canadian Rockies to the Sierrra Madre is a chaos which turns the Alps almost to monotone. Rocks hurled like crumpled comets against the edge of a mesa they have swept smooth as a table. Canyons so deep that mountains are lost in them like stones. Jagged peaks flung through clouds. Rivers that plunge beneath the earth and reappear, walled-in by precipitous mile-high rock. Interminable wastes of thirsty soil, splintered with cactus, spread white with alkali or crystals of salt. Lakes that bubble hot in a bowl of brackish hills. Streams in whose bed gleam phosphorescent fires. Gashes like the Grand Canyon of the Colorado where earth lies disemboweled and men peer down into the stupendous womb of life. Such frenzy is the theater of the American drama. The behaviour of our men and women inseparable from it.”
— Waldo Frank Our America (1919)
William Henry Fox Talbot (British, 1800-1877) Lace, ca. 1845, salted paper print, Gift of Dr. Walter Clark, George Eastman House Collection
We interrupt our Olympic themed postings to celebrate the birthday of William Henry Fox Talbot, who was born on February 11, 1800 in Dorset, United Kingdom.