Hic Sunt Dracones
I remember when I was four years old asking my mother why my cousin Emily spoke English. My mom was confused, so I explained to her that since Emily was from another country–North Carolina–she should speak another language. That was the day that I learned that North Carolina was not a separate country. And that being from another country doesn’t necessarily mean that you speak another language. You learn something new every day.
You see, when I was four the world was a fairly small place. It consisted chiefly of North and South Carolina. South Carolina was where I lived and all the principal inhabitants lived in Charleston or the surrounding islands, as I did. North Carolina was just about as far north as you could go–why else was it called North Carolina? We would visit this howling northern wilderness in the summertime to see my grandparents.
There was some notion of lands existing farther north than North Carolina, but my conception of them was vague. I did know that somewhere just north of North Carolina was Wisconsin where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in her cabin in the Big Woods. If you went much farther north, you’d hit the North Pole.
South of South Carolina was Georgia, and further south of that was Florida and the magical land of Disney World. And then there was England, which in my mind was exactly like South Carolina with the exception of the accents and the snow in the wintertime. There were also castles and fairies there.
As for the rest of the map, well, there there were dragons.
* Hic sunt dracones means “here be dragons” in Latin. The phrase designates unknown areas on a map. Read the Wikepedia article.
Sir Francis Drake’s map of the world courtesy of www.history-map.com