Thursday, March 29, 2018


It almost looks like the stream in the garden at the mid-right is made of white stones or there is a snow path there and as if there are specks of left-over snow on the leaves of the ground cover. But the pure white here and shining on the lake is all sun. 

Same sort of impression created by the sun shining on leaves in a very shady spot. The leaves just shine back. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"Wise Men Invented It"

"For one who wishes a clever theory, the invention of painting belongs to the gods--witness on earth all the design with which the Seasons paint the meadows, and the manifestations we see in the heavens. But for one who is merely seeking the origin of art, imitation is an invention most ancient and most akin to nature; and wise men invented it, calling it now painting, now plastic art."

Little did the Greek writer Philostratus the Elder know when he wrote these words in the third century A.D. in his treatise on painting called Imagines, that the origins of art would take us back more than 60,000 years.

That is the conclusion of scientists from a redating of the prehistoric drawings in the La Pesiaga cave in Spain. The scientists calculated the age of tiny samples of the sediment on top of the drawings that they meticulously scraped off, with the startling discovery that the paintings had been done 64,000 years ago—a time when Neanderthals were the only hominids inhabiting Western Europe, the scientists said.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, "The analysis revealed that the paintings predated early modern humans in the region by at least 20,000 years, leaving the scientists with no alternative but to attribute the artwork to the Neanderthals who made this area their home. ... 'We conclude that this cave art has to be made by Neanderthals,' said physicist Dirk Hoffmann at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, who led researchers from 15 centers in Germany, the U.K., Portugal and Spain. They published their findings in the journals Science and Science Advances."

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Spring Snow

At last we got real winter snow, albeit on the second day of spring. I was relieved and grateful to see it. Buds are already out though and bravely withstood it all.

Bearing the burden and ...

Peeking through

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Now Let Us Praise Famous Women

I have collected many photographs of people who live in Appalachia, and one day as I was looking through them, I was struck by how beautiful some of the older women were--the grandmothers. Here is a selection of photographs of such women. I would love to sit down on their porch and hear some of their stories. I know they have stories that tell of a world different from the one I grew up in and have lived in. As you can see, their bodies are lean from a lifetime of hard work without amenities and less than enough food.

I am interspersing the photographs with excerpts about an Appalachian grandmother from the novel River of Earth (1940) by Kentucky's poet laureate James Still (1906-2001), who lived most of his life in a log house on a creek in coal-producing Knott County, Kentucky. This is a beautiful novel that chronicles how coal mining lured men away from homesteading and into the mines. The story, as told by the son of a farmer turned miner, is remarkable for its detailing of all kinds of plants, planting, and seasons.

Mrs. Frank Henderson, taken by Doris Ulmann.
One morning Grandma said we could wait no longer for Uncle Luce. She took her grapevine walking stick and we went into the cornfield. We worked two days pulling corn from the small hoe-tended stalks. When all the runty ears were gathered, she measured them into pokes, pulling her bonnet down over her face to hide the rheumatic pain. There were sixteen bushels. 'We won't be needing the barn this time,' she said. 'We'll just sack the puny nubbins and put them in the shedroom.'
With the corn in, we waited a few days until Grandma's rheumatism had been doctored with herbs and bitter cherry-bark tea. Then there were the heavy-leaved cabbages, the cashews and sweet potatoes to be gathered. The potatoes had grown large that year. They were fat and big as squashes. Grandma crawled along the rows on her knees, digging in the baked earth with her hands. It was good to see such fine potatoes. 'When Jolly comes home he'll shore eat a bellyful,' she said. 

Mountain woman with grandchild, taken by Jeffrey Potter.
'Eighteen-sixty-eight it was,' Grandmas said, and her words were small against the spring winds bellowing in the chimney top. She spread her hands close to the oak-knot fire. They were blue-veined like a giant spider's web. 'That was the year the pigeons come to Upper Flat Creek, mighty nigh taking the country.... Them pigeon-birds were worse than a plague writ in the Book,' Grandmother said. "Hit was my first married year, and Boone and me had grubbed out a homeseat on Upper Flat, hoe-planting four acres o' corn. We'd got a garden patch put in, and four bee gums working before I turned puny, setting in wait for our first-born. I'd take a peck measure outside and set me down on it where I could see the garden crap growing, and the bees fotching sweetening. There was a powerful bloom that year, as I remember, and a sight of seasoning in the ground.'

 Ella Dunn, midwife and herbalist, who lived in the Ozarks and lived to be 104 years old. 

Emma Dupree, an herb doctor who received the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1992 and lived to be 98 years old. 
Grandma wove her hands together on her knees. 'I been walking on these legs seventy-eight years,' she said. 'I'm figuring to walk a few more miles. I hain't going to set around and let rheumatiz tie 'em in a pinch knot. Hain't wear that breaks a door hinge, hit's rust.'

Two women on a porch, taken by Howard Greenberg.

'If I was stone-blind, I'd know a new season was coming,' Grandma said. ''This time o' year the rheumatiz strikes my hips. The pain sets deep and grinds. Five of my chaps was born in the spring and that might be the causing.' She took to bed for a spell, and Uncle Jolly cooked for us morning and evening.... It plagued her to lie abed, helpless. 'When spring opens,' Grandma said, 'I'll be up and doing. Three days' sun, and I'll be well enough to beat this feather tick and hang it to sweeten.'
One morning I saw a redbird sitting in a plum bush, its body as dark as a wound. 'Spring's a winding,' I told Grandma. 'Coming now for shore.'
'Even come spring,' Grandma said, 'we've got a passel of chills to endure: dogwood winter, redbud, service, foxgrape, blackberry.... There must be seven winters, by count. A chilly snap for every time of bloom.' 

You may also want to see:
Maude Callen (1898-1990)
The Trees by Conrad Richter
Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller
Housekeeping in The Fields

Saturday, January 27, 2018

"In their steady change and alteration..."

"Look at the heavens and the earth: in their steady change and alteration they proclaim that they were made, and their very existence is itself the voice with which they speak. It was you, O Lord, who created them."
                                                             Saint Augustine, Confessions