There’s no doubt that, as far as far away places go, Antarctica is about as flamboyantly far away as one can get. I mean, it is waaaaaaaay way way down there! Antarctica commands an austere commitment of time as well as copious amount of discretionary income just to reach, and various other resources such as gear and maybe a pocket full of penguin food to survive. I have no doubt that it’s a stunning, if not harsh, place for an explorer of the world to visit, with sturdy boots, multiple layers and a stellar camera with a cadre of even more stellar lenses, but it’s hard to make the case for exploring the farthest reaches of the world without first exploring the world surrounding us. This is because the world around is extremely stunning too, in its own way, albeit a way without penguins, and potentially, on a personal level, far more impactful to us as individuals.
But before we even get there, there’s the way the morning light is carved as it enters the big city and the way it cascades down upon a lake that, as Josh Ritter sings, “sits like a diamond in the valley’s hand,” at dusk. There’s the birds backtracking at that time of night, black flecks on a greying canvas, moving away from their watery respite to their homes high up in trees miles away. And that’s just the light and the birds, the city and the lake.
There are historical sites and markers for which you should, per Roman Mars & 99% Invisible’s wise direction, “always read the plaque”, works of art in nature and in galleries, monuments, legendary sports arenas, side walk street performers, neon signs, and so much more to discover but to be a true person of curiosity and wonder, to be a true explorer of the world, one must spelunk the sights, sounds and smells of their own lineage first.
To be the best explorer of the world you can be, you must visit the town where your great grandmother ran wild as a bright young lady many moons ago during a black & white era of corner stores, soda pop shops, long metal cars, and picket fences. And you must go see the house where your dad grew up. It’s that final pin point on a young explorer’s itinerary, along with the first one I mentioned above, that combined to stop me in my tracks while listening to Frances England’s new album Explorer of the World.
The album, England’s 5th for families, entertains the idea of big fanciful exploration but remains rooted in the beatboxing sounds, waving flags, busy streets, and sandy beaches of one’s home turf. England knows, as a mom and a curious explorer herself, that you’ve gotta see and feel and hear and understand where you are in the present tense and where you came from too, before you can ever truly appreciate the big wide world out there.
If you allow it, this fine collection of electro-acoustic travel songs can be a new soundtrack for your family’s next expedition — whether that’s to dad’s childhood home, the neighborhood park with that big old oak tree, sitting out on your front step to watch the activity on your own street, or to a tempting far away land.
Buy Explorer of the World now. You will not be disappointed with what you discover.