Tag Archives: history

peony.

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one of my favorite places to hike can be found right in the center of ann arbor, a place where i always return, the nichols arboretum. it’s a lovely, quiet, sweeping park where there is natural beauty to be found in any season. one of the most stunning displays is the blooming of the peony garden. unlike any i have ever seen.

the nichols arboretum peony garden is the largest public collection of historic (pre-1950) herbaceous peony cultivars in north america. the university and botanical gardens are currently in the process of rebuilding this historic garden to be an internationally significant, scientifically-documented and culturally interpreted living reference collection.

the garden, open since 1927, boasts more than 270 historic varieties of peony, cultivated in the 19th and early 20th centuries. nearly 800 plants are arranged in 27 beds at the arboretum’s peony garden, drawing flower lovers from across the region when they bloom each spring.

  • note – early morning and evening are when the peony fragrances are best.

“flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful;

they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”

-luther burbank


The Peony Garden
a project of
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum

high spirits and devilment.

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copper, clay, and complaint.

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Among the artifacts at the British Museum in London is this ancient Babylonian customer service complaint that was inscribed on a clay tablet sometime around 1750 B.C. The complaint is regarding problems with two shipments of copper ore, as the museum notes in their description:

Clay tablet; letter from Nanni to Ea-nasir complaining that the wrong grade of copper ore has been delivered after a gulf voyage and about misdirection and delay of a further delivery; slightly damaged.

A full translation from the book Letters from Mesopotamia by Assyriologist A. Leo Oppenheim has provided a view into the customer’s complaint.  Turns out Nanni was pretty angry:

Tell Ea-nasir: Nanni sends the following message:

When you came, you said to me as follows : “I will give Gimil-Sin (when he comes) fine quality copper ingots.” You left then but you did not do what you promised me. You put ingots which were not good before my messenger (Sit-Sin) and said: “If you want to take them, take them; if you do not want to take them, go away!”

What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt? I have sent as messengers gentlemen like ourselves to collect the bag with my money (deposited with you) but you have treated me with contempt by sending them back to me empty-handed several times, and that through enemy territory. Is there anyone among the merchants who trade with Telmun who has treated me in this way? You alone treat my messenger with contempt! On account of that one (trifling) mina of silver which I owe(?) you, you feel free to speak in such a way, while I have given to the palace on your behalf 1,080 pounds of copper, and umi-abum has likewise given 1,080 pounds of copper, apart from what we both have had written on a sealed tablet to be kept in the temple of Samas.

How have you treated me for that copper? You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore (my money) to me in full.

Take cognizance that (from now on) I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality. I shall (from now on) select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt.

“if you make the customer a promise, make sure you deliver it.”

-merv griffin

credits: british museum, laughing squid, e. lynch, reddit

strange brew. the mix of politics, snowmen and history.

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                                                     The Snowman’s Oddly Political History

Turns out the winter sculpture has served more than just aesthetic purposes.

If there’s a white, fluffy layer of snow on the ground, odds are you’re itching to play in it. And if you’re playing in the snow, what else would you do but roll it into a ball? And then another, slightly smaller one. And then a third. Stick on some arms, a face and maybe some accessories, and voila: You’ve become a part of a millennia-long tradition.

As long as there have been humans in the snow, there have probably been snowmen. Trying to discover where the first one was built is like trying to track down the first person to ever sneeze; almost as soon as it happened, it was gone. But, throughout history, some of our frosty friends have been more notable than others. And their stories have survived long after the protagonists had melted away.
1. The first snowman ever drawn was Jewish. Uncovered by Bob Eckstein for his book, The History of the Snowman, the earliest known depiction of a snowman sits in a manuscript of The Book of Hours from 1380.The oddly anti-Semitic drawing features a Jewish snowman melting near a fire. The accompanying passage describes the crucifixion of Jesus.
2. Your best snowman will probably never live up to the one Michelangelo made. In 1494, a prince known as Piero the Unfortunate commissioned the artist to build a snowman in the Medici courtyard. Though very little is written about the work, one art critic from the time said it was astonishingly beautiful.
3. Snowpeople have been used as acts of political protest. Though today’s snowman has become a reliable holiday character for those wishing to remain secular and apolitical, they weren’t always used for such impartial purposes. In 1511, people in Brussels were miserable. On top of being poor and hungry, they were also dealing with “The Winter of Death,” where freezing temperatures lingered over the city for months. The government decided that a snowman festival would be perfect for raising spirits. And they were right, just probably not in the way they had hoped. Aspiring snow artists covered the city in pornographic snow sculptures, as well as graphic caricatures of prominent citizens. The officials let them have their fun, hoping that as the sculptures vanished in the spring, the people’s angst would melt away too.
4. The snowman was one of the world’s earliest models. The first photograph of a snowman was taken by Mary Dillwyn in 1845, shortly after the camera was first invented. So, the first photo of a snowman is also one of the first photos of anything. Ever.

first-snowman                                              First Snowman – Mary Dillwyn/National Museum of Wales

5. Snowmen may have helped the French fight Prussia. As the king of Prussia sought to expand his territory by invading Paris in 1870, two French soldiers and artists revived spirits with acts of snow sculpting. In the Bicêtre fortress, they constructed “The Resistance,” a snowwoman sitting on a cannon, and “The Republic,” a stoic snow-bust in a cap. The snow-crafts weren’t enough, though, and Prussia ultimately won the war of 1870. Some historians state that the grudge held by the people of France from this defeat helped drive the country’s victory in World War I.

6. The tallest snowperson in history is from Michigan. The home of the world’s tallest snowman is Bethel, Michigan. Bethel first earned the distinction in 1999 with Angus King of the Mountain. But when no other city rose to take the title in the ensuing years, Bethel decided they’d have to beat their own record. In a feat of feminism, they constructed Olympia – the 122-foot-tall snowwoman – in 2008. She had eyelashes made of skis, lips made of car tires, a 100-foot-long scarf, and a six-foot-long snowflake pendant.

Credits: Smithsonian Magazine, Mental Floss Magazine, The History of the Snowman – Bob Eckstein, The Book of Hours, Annie Garou, Mary Dillwyn, Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.

bo knows good company.

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1970s vintage plaid with a few of my favorites:

 Glen Campbell, Johnny Orr, Gerald Ford, Bo Schembechler, Cy Laughter

in honor of the big game tomorrow

this one’s for you, coach bo

go blue.

‘the key is to keep company only with people who uplift you,

whose presence calls forth your best.”

-epictetus

image credit: ann arbor townies, leslie orr

 

two in half a million.

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a woodstock moment – 40+ years later

on a whim, a young duo went to the legendary festival

only to be captured in a memorable image

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two in half a million:

bobbi kelly and nick ercoline greet the dawn

on august 17, 1969.


“this is the way to hear music, i think,

surrounded by rolling hills and farmlands, under a big sky.”

― uwe michael lang, The Road to Woodstock

credits: burk uzzle (photo), life magazine, tim dumas, smithsonian magazine