Blueberry Bushes and Lamp Posts

Blueberry Bushes and Lamp Posts

Navigation. Even with our fancy schmantzy electronics, we still have to rely upon our innate navigation skills. Especially in a foreign world like New York City. Men and women not only think differently, they navigate by entirely different methods.

New York City

New York City

My wife and I spent the last ten days trekking the cement jungle of NYC, and our differences in navigational style became quite apparent.

My wife navigates by things she’s seen before that are important to her;  restuarants, shoe stores, ornate buildings, and Starbucks.

photo credit: DSC_0010 via photopin (license)

photo credit: DSC_0010 via photopin (license)

We affectionately refer to that as “remembering where the blueberry bushes are”. When she spots a familiar “blueberry bush”, she can back track from one to the next all the way to our hotel. We attribute this to our “hunter-gatherer” genes.


Being a manly, man hunter sort (if only by gender) I navigate by looking at a printed map and sense of direction. Even without a compass, I can usually pinpoint north by looking at the shadows of lamp posts or anything pointy, like my head.

photo credit: Day 152 via photopin (license)

photo credit: Day 152 via photopin (license)

Look at your shadow and pretend you’re a sun dial. If it’s close to noon, tall shadows point pretty much north. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to figure out which street to take to align with a map. If it’s nine A.M., shadows will cast toward the west and northwest. Three o’clock and later, shadows cast to the north east and east. Simple, right?

The big problem with relying upon a lamp post for direction is cloudy days. I wind up turning around in circles and resorting to the unmanly course of asking someone for directions.

The big problem with the blueberry bush method is, especially in NYC, there are a LOT of restaurants, shoe stores, ornate buildings, and twice as many Starbucks. My wife would say, “Oh, there’s the pizza place right by the Starbucks! We need to go this way.” To which I reply, “Our hotel is fifteen blocks the other way.”

As proof that my lamp post method is superior, consider that there are NO BLUEBERRY BUSHES on the Atlantic Ocean. Had Chris Columbus asked Nina, Pinta, or Santa Maria which way to go, they would have never discovered the first Starbucks. Then again, there are no lamp posts out there either. Thank you, William Sturgeon for inventing the modern compass!



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