The Harbin government reported an air quality index (AQI) score of 500, the highest possible reading, with some neighborhoods posting concentrations of PM2.5 — fine particulate matter that are 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller and especially harmful to health — as high as 1,000 milligrams per cubic meter, according to the China News Service.
(By comparison, the air quality index in New York was 41 on Monday morning.)
The Chinese government describes air with an AQI between 301 and 500 as “heavily polluted” and urges people to refrain from exercising outdoors; the elderly and other vulnerable populations are supposed to stay indoors entirely. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses a similar index that labels any reading between 301 and 500 as “hazardous.”
Both scales reach their limit at 500, leaving creative citizens of polluted cities to come up with their own labels when the air gets worse. Foreign residents in Beijing declared an “airpocalpyse” last January when the U.S. Embassy reported an AQI equivalent of 755, with a PM2.5 concentration of 866 milligrams per cubic meter. The World Health Organization has standards that judge a score above 500 to be more than 20 times the level of particulate matter in the air deemed safe.
Lewis Grizzard, The South: I always loved Lewis’ columns … still do …
He would tell Yankee immigrants who found fault with the South: “Delta is ready when you are.”
Paris, Ernest Hemingway, quotes, kith/kin: How long do you have to “live ” to feel this way?
travel, shoes, good information: Best Walking Shoes for Travel – Articles | Travel + Leisure.
Norma Kamali, Provence FR, olive orchards, bucket list: Never thought of doing a tour of olive vineyards …
So began the first of what would become a decade of road trips from Barcelona along the coast of Spain and into France and Italy. But of all the orchards that Ms. Kamali has ever visited along the way, her favorite is in Provence, in the South of France, where she thinks the best olive oil in the world is made. “If there was a description of what heaven looks like,” she said, “I would say this is it.”
Ms. Kamali’s Provence is an autumnal watercolor of what she describes as endless vineyards against a backdrop of mountains and sea. France’s sole A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) olive-oil designation — a sought-after status that verifies the oil’s contents, as well as the method and origin of production — is in Provence. The region is also home to five of France’s seven A.O.P. (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) olive-oil designations, a classification system used throughout the European Union.
WHY SHE GOES BACK
Despite having been to orchards from Spain to Italy, Ms. Kamali always returns to Provence for the quality of the oil, the taste of which depends on many factors, including sun (is the orchard on the shady side of a hill?), terrain (are the trees on flat land?) and neighbors (what’s planted nearby?). “In France it’s often living next to lavender,” Ms. Kamali said, “so there are some olive oils that have a lavender scent.”
The fragrance may be delicate, but “the olive trees are in themselves just very stoic,” she said.
“They lasted through wars and all kinds of weather conditions,” she continued. “History just counts the olive tree as part of the marking of time.”
When in Provence, Ms. Kamali stays at a friend’s chateau, but she said that you can still immerse yourself in the culture by staying at a villa on an orchard.
Frank Law Olmstead, Biltmore, John Singer Sargent: I stood for several minutes and stared at this portrait on my last visit to Biltmore. it is huge and I love the outfit and cane. Now that I know that his son wore the outfit and posed toward the end, I think it even more interesting. Olmstead’s impacted almost every city I love in the US … nothing better in a city than a really good park!
As a National Historic Site it is also a modest place, considering the huge scope of the legacy left by the man who lived and worked there. Olmsted is best known as the creator of Central Park, a design he completed with his partner Calvert Vaux. With that celebrated project he may be said to have invented the field of landscape architecture, going on provide most of the major cities in America with a legacy of his genius. To name a few, the great parks of Boston, Chicago, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Louisville, Rochester, Buffalo, Baltimore, Denver, Seattle, all bear his signature. He designed the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and all or parts of the campuses of Stanford, Cornell, Amherst, Yale, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and many others.
Olmsted by Sargent
The final work project of his life, though, was for a private client, George Washington Vanderbilt, who in 1895 had just completed The Biltmore, the largest private residence ever built in the United States. It was a 250-room chateau outside of Ashville, North Carolina. Olmsted worked to landscape the place. Perhaps recognizing that his 73-year-old landscape designer was in poor health, Vanderbilt arranged for Olmsted’s friend, the artist John Singer Sargent, to come down from Boston to paint his portrait on the grounds of the estate. Sargent chose to place his subject in a setting of thick vegetation. It is a poignant picture of an old man leaning on a cane and somehow receding slightly into the mass of greenery around him. Flowers and flowering bushes had never been Olmsted’s forte; he had always preferred to plant trees that took little tending. In Sargent’s portrait, the flowers seem slightly out of control, reaching to overtake the elderly gentleman standing in their midst.
Entering a city park can be almost surreal, like encountering a desert mirage–smells of hot garbage are replaced instantly with cut grass and forsythia, sounds of screeching subway brakes are traded for birdcalls and quiet. Former Vogue editor and New York Public Library chairman Catie Marron had a lifelong love for these green respites from cacophony and claustrophobia. “I always gravitate towards city parks. In the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris when I was 23, something moved me internally, almost brought me to tears,” Marron tells Co.Design. “I really wanted to find books on parks for myself, but I didn’t find any. They didn’t seem to exist.”
She decided to change that, and rallied an impressive collection of authors and public figures–including Bill Clinton, Zadie Smith, Andre Aciman, Colm Toibin, and Nicole Krauss–to pen poignant odes to twenty-one city parks the world over. The resulting book, City Parks: Public Places, Private Thoughts, captures the enchantment of urban green spaces with intimate essays and Oberto Gili’s full color photographs, which appear almost three-dimensional in their depth and richness.