Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. But we’ve had warning - the decorations started going up in stores the day after Christmas. As a holiday, though, it almost keeps pace with Christmas. The first incarnation of the celebration may go back to Ancient Roman times, with the fertility festival of Lupercalia. St. Valentine himself could... Continue Reading →
A Christmas Herbarium: The Nature and Culture of our Favorite Holiday Plants
The Festive season is upon us. Many of us are busy hanging wreathes, decorating trees, and putting up mistletoe in doorways for that holiday smooch. If it's Christmas you celebrate, most of our traditions go far further back than inflatable characters out of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on the front lawn. And one thing that... Continue Reading →
The other day, on a whim, we went to a thrift shop and something happened that you fantasize about but never expect. We found a masterpiece. The painting was sitting in a corner behind a lot of faded prints from the 1980s, with "$12.99". scrawled on the back. We thought it was probably a clever... Continue Reading →
In an age of humans, can the arts save the planet?
The rapid decline of the global environment is an inescapable fact. The Earth’s major oxygen sources, coral reefs and rain forests, are disappearing along with the species that live in them. Atmospheric carbon is rising precipitously and one in a hundred year storms are becoming the norm. As the planet warms and forests are removed... Continue Reading →
I just discovered, while doing some research, that the Dutch East India Company had a private army. I was surprised to discover that, assuming it had been more like Macy's meets David Livingston. But it makes sense. Given their acquisitive agenda, coupled with the (quite reasonable) opinion of local people that they would rather keep... Continue Reading →