Mark Catesby was an English naturalist, who in 1722, at the age of 40, set sail from England on a voyage to South Carolina where he stayed for four years.
Catesby spent those years exploring the natural habitat of the Carolinas and the Bahamas. The amazing journey he undertook produced drawings and paintings of species of plants and animals we will never see again. He was also among the first to understand that natural and man-made destruction led to the extinction of some animal and plant species. The Carolina Parakeet, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and the Passenger Pigeon are three examples of animals gone forever but that we can now see because of Catesby’s beautiful paintings.
After his sojourn through this area and upon his arrival back in England, he spent the next twenty years writing about and illustrating a marvelous two-volume Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. Thanks to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the public can now view these lovely watercolor paintings at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. These treasures of a lost time are on loan to the museum through September 24.
If you are interested in the natural history of the lower southern part of America do not miss this exhibit. The Gibbes Museum is at 135 Meeting Street in downtown.
Also, do not miss a visit to the Charleston Museum. It, too, is filled with wonderful treasures of early life in that wonderful town. The museum is located at 360 Meeting Street. On display are all sorts of items, including original clothing and jewelry worn 200 or more years ago.
Of raised eyebrows and aged wine
I find it quite interesting that so many people are in an uproar about the newly elected president of France.
President Emmanuel Macron is 39 and his wife Brigitte is 64. Madame Macron met her future husband when he was 15 and her student at a high school in France. The couple has been married since 2007.
When an older man marries a much younger woman there is never so much as a peep; a few raised eyebrows perhaps.
The newspapers and several magazines have been full of all sorts of information about all of the candidates who ran for the same office.
All of the goings on amongst many of them make the novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” seem a bit like a fairy tale.
Vive la France and remember a good well-aged wine is coveted around the world....maybe the Macrons know something many of us do not.
King Tut’s beard
The Egyptian government is building a new museum in Cairo that will display the artifacts of King Tutankhamun who ruled more than 3,000 years ago.
The priceless artifacts were discovered in 1922 in the southern city of Luxor. Moving the items is a very delicate issue, as you might imagine, especially since in 2014 someone working on the display knocked off King Tut’s golden beard and then tried to glue it back on. Can’t you just see the poor culprit trying to find a bottle of Gorilla Glue? Wow?
I’m glad I wasn’t there. The new museum is scheduled to open at the end of this year and if you plan a visit, look and see if King Tut’s beard is on straight.
Old foods, new uses
Do you ever wonder where all of these newly found foods come from? I do.
Chinese gooseberries were discovered in New Zealand, shipped around the world and then the name of the fruit was changed to kiwi, like the little bird.
Along came kale that really has never gone away in favor.
Quinoa was a crop grown in the Andes Mountains and it quickly became an alternative to rice.
Now we have acai, a purplish, wild-growing fruit native to the Amazon River basin. The natives in that area had been happily eating this fruit daily for hundreds of years. Acai is high in omega fats, hasn’t many carbohydrates, low in sugar and is very filling. Now the world has discovered the wonderful attributes of this fruit and now it is being added to drinks. The berry is still harvested in the wild but some worry that with all of the demand, the future lies in plantations that can grow great quantities for the increased consumption. I wonder if the folks at Clemson can be of help or maybe they are involved already? Part of the cache that makes these foods appealing is in the charm of picking and finding them in the wilds where they grow.
How does your garden grow?
If you have a new house with a yard that needs a little help you might want to plant several of the following plants.
According to Carson McElheney, a landscape architect based in Atlanta, there are several classics to consider: American boxwood, oakleaf, “Annabelle” or “Endless Summer” hydrangeas; “August Beauty” gardenia and “Fifth Avenue” camellia.
I have seen pictures of Mr. McElheney’s projects and he knows what he is talking about. He says these plants are all easy to grow ...hooray.
Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street or at firstname.lastname@example.org.