“Quell’orror bello che attristando piace” – that beautiful horror which delights while it saddens (Italian poet Ippolito Pindemonte)
Stumpery. First time I heard the word was one of those finger-snap moments, a cerebral light bulb thing.
I mean, who’da thought it was a thing? I mean, we’ve been doing it all along, right?
But here I am, nearly thirty years later, actually standing in the oldest stumpery in the world, and thinking about how to enlarge my own backyard collection of tree trunks, stumps, and gnarly limbs (and how my kids will have a hell of a time dismantling or burning it all down when I’m gone). Continue reading “Stumperies – Beautiful Horrors”
With clasped hands and half-hidden smile, his stoic, contemplative, non-judgmental demeanor is immutable, whether checking out seasonal pomelos at the local market, or communing eye-to-eye – at a safe distance, of course – with an ancient garden gnome whose eerily-unchanging mute smile is as enigmatic as the Señor’s taciturn regard.
Only thing breaking the silence is a sigh, which may just be the soft susurrus of a breeze wafting through the thyme.
(For a little background on Señor Misterioso click here)
NOBODY really knows who he is. Or much of anything about him, other than the whispered rumors that the Dos Equis guy – who is said to be the “most interesting man in the world” – wants him dead. Don’t know why he wears such an impeccably-tailored glow-in-the-dark suit and fedora. And even less is known about the even more enigmatic Senorita Misterioso – his sister perhaps?
I first found him alone on the second shelf of a dusty VooDoo shop hidden on a side street of New Orleans. For years he stood on the dash above the steering wheel of my antique truck, one time helping comfort and guide me and Dr. Dirt through a Texas deluge so heavy we couldn’t see the edge of the pavement.
When the old truck was temporarily stolen, he disappeared for awhile, along with our dashboard hula girl (a ceramic beauty I rescued from an antique shop in Hawai’i). They have made it back, and while she gyrates around America in the truck, he travels the world with me, occasionally coming out from his special pouch of my canvas murse.
With clasped hands and half-hidden smile, his stoic, contemplative, non-judgmental demeanor is immutable.
Oh – and have I mentioned that he glows eerily in the dark?
Other than claiming somewhat cheekily that “I’ve got Señor Misterioso in my pocket – at least for now” there’s really nothing more to say. Either you get it, or you don’t.
Scroll over these images to see where the iconic man has been sighted.
Visits remote towers in the moors of England
Still Dapper in the Jungle
Real Ale Pub
Communing with Gnome
Señor Misterioso Examining the Pomelos
Glows Eerily in the Dark
Quietly Hiding in Snow
Soaking in a beer reputed to be one of the world’s best in the Czech Republic
Admiring a local Czech ale in Prague
Really getting into a local Czech ale in Prague
ADDENDUM: An alert follower shared a possible connection to a Venezuelan physician and popular folk figure, Dr. José Gregorio Hernández, who died in 1919 and has been venerated by the Catholic church (and considered a candidate for sainthood). Striking resemblance, and there are many small statues of him – including this small one – which strongly suggests he may be the original inspiration for Señor Misterioso…
Feel a little oddly uneasy on your garden swing? There’s a saint who may offer comfort.
There are some quirky saints, to be sure, patrons of every imaginable profession or situation, from farming to protecting beekeepers, even keeping ants out of the house. But some are peculiarly suited for gardeners.
One of my favorite garden sculptures is my three-foot concrete statue of a saint – not Francis, the environmental/wildlife guy with the bird on one hand, but St. Fiacre, the most popular and official patron saint of gardeners.
St. Fiacre is said to have sailed from Ireland to France looking for a quiet place where he could devote himself to God. An obliging bishop offered him as much land as he could turn up in a day, and clever Fiacre, instead actually plowing the expected small plot, used his wood staff to dig a row all the way around and enclosing a larger area. His garden became a hospice from which he shared his vegetables, herbs, and flowers with travelers, some of whom claimed he performed miracles. He is now recognized as the patron saint of gardeners – and, by the way, of Paris cab drivers, whose taxis are called fiacres – because the earliest commercial rides-for-hire in Paris originated near the hotel Saint-Fiacre. Continue reading “Swinging Garden Saints”
In spite of my laid-back approach, sometimes I think I notice little details that don’t bother other gardeners. But have you ever run across a wood deck barefoot, or sat on a wood bench, and got splinters? You can blame whoever put the boards on in the first place.
Not bogging down in all the details, ’cause it’s eye-rolling even to this retired scientist. But in general if you live in a warm, moist climate like mine, wood won’t last long without rotting, and before that happens the boards will probably cup or form raised edges and begin to splinter.
For the past thirty years – since my now-grown son was still in a child restraint seat – my old antique pickup truck has had a diminutive but productive potager garden overstuffed with flowers, herbs, and vegetables. That’s right, the working truck has a working garden in the back!
I started it out from frustration with one too many people whining about not having a place to garden. Thinking “What’d be the hardest place, the acid test, to give it a go?” I decided to try it in the back of my pickup truck.
When fellow board members of the American Horticulture Society approved a venture in which American students would share school gardening projects with those from other countries, I packed my man-purse with seeds, grabbed my worn-out passport, and headed to the airport. First stop: Ghana, West Africa.
Long Story Short: The project involved growing vegetables in portable, water-saving EARTHBOX® which had been donated for the project. Participants shared experiences and results online.
Not saying anything about anything anyone believes or not…
…but WAY before church leaders – both ancient and modern – deliberately started putting their own holy days onto the existing festivals of others (look up syncretism), people noticed and rejoiced on the day the sunshine started coming back…
Regardless of your own beliefs, it’s a good day to celebrate – hope the new sunrise brings you good cheer and comfort through the next year!