Local assumptions

Reading the October National Geographic. The opening sentence on an article about leaves:

we have all held leaves, driven miles to see their fall colours, eaten them, raked them, sought their shade.

Well…. No. I’ve never gone anywhere to see leaves in fall colours. And I’ve never raked leaves. Where I live, almost all the trees are evergreen. It’s not as if I’m lazy or something. As far as I’m aware, I don’t even know anybody who owns a rake.

Later in the same article, it makes a point about leaves in cold places, saying they have teeth, “like birches and cherries”. Presumably this is meant to provide a familiar reference point to readers. However, I have no idea what a birch or a cherry leaf looks like. We don’t have those sorts of trees here. I had to Google to find photos of the leaves to know what that sentence about the leaves having “teeth” meant.

Not that I’m complaining. I just find it fascinating when an author’s assumptions about the audience they’re writing for are not necessarily valid.

4 Responses to “Local assumptions”

  1. Steven Irrgang says:

    You do know someone with a rake – we’ve got at least two in fact (though I’m not sure why that is – they’re Mel’s). The trees out the front of our house drop their leaves, it’s quite spectacular how many there are at that time of year, they get up to a foot deep over the whole driveway if we don’t do something about them.

    I still don’t know what a birch or cherry leaf looks like though.

  2. DMc says:

    ’tain’t *Inter*national Geographic.

  3. Chris Adams says:

    They still publish an Australian Geographic, don’t they?

    I don’t disagree with you, anyway. One of the reasons I think I’ve always been so interested in American (and, to a lesser extent, British) culture is that at a young age I was reading stories and factual articles from those places, full of references to cold and dark Octobers and snow and other things of which I had no experience.

  4. Australian Geographic is still published, yeah. I used to subscribe to that too, but honestly I found the writing to be less to my liking than National Geographic, and let my subscription lapse many years ago. Reading AG actually felt like a slog. Reading NG never has in … wow, coming up to 30 years of subscription.

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