Some of my tulips, April, 2010
Most days, I can read, or I can write. Lately, I’ve been doing a little of both. However, I suspect much of what I read has little appeal for many, so I don’t do many in-depth book reviews on my blog. Lately, while others were reading The Gone Girl or Bill O’Reilly’s latest book, I’ve been reading the Empire of Cotton, a 600 page history book by Sven Beckert, a professor of world economic history. Listed by Amazon as the number one read among Agricultural Economists, I had to have it. Thus, I ordered the Kindle, Audio, and hardcover editions. The hardcover will go to a granddaughter Joy who loves to read.
I love history, and over time have read several books that link an ideology like communism or Protestantism, a mass migration (Jewish, African Diasporas), or a commodity across time.
The history of a commodity can be fun. Among others, I’ve read, about salt..so precious at one time the word ‘salary’ was derived from it; the color blue (Napoleon used it for army uniforms because it was less distinct against the blue sky than the bright red uniforms of other armies); and tulips.
Take Anna Pavord’s book Tulip, a botanical tome for the most part, but she interjects history from other sources.
Tulips, a favorite spring time bulb for many people, are associated with the Dutch, but are really native to Anatolia, modern day Turkey. According to British historian Simon Schama, in the sixteenth century (Embarrassment of Riches), Dutch fortunes rose and fell on the tulip market.
I’m only about 10 percent into Empire of Cotton, but I can tell its going to be an unforgettable book. Okay, I know, I’m a little nutty, but I have always liked cotton, and at one point wrote a research paper on Manchester England where capitalism was indelibly linked with the fortunes of cotton production.
Kathy came by with a brochure about a farm in Maine that houses heirloom animals. In December, when my granddaughters and I had tea at Kathy’s house, she and Joy had an exciting discussion about heirloom animals, and Joy’s upcoming trip to Germany to visit farms that have these animals.
Although David told me Kathy was painting the Sistine Chapel, Kathy says she’s working on a wood panel portrait of a mare whose brother won the Kentucky Derby. Kathy’s panel, painted on styrofoam will depict a background of wood from an old barn door in PA where the horse was stabled until she was sold. The painting is destined for a teenager who raised and is a bit despondent over the sale of the mare, and will hang on her bedroom wall.
Apparently, the couple who commissioned the painting saw one of Kathy’s paintings hanging a local restaurant.
Pompeii art on wall panel by Kathy. Originally hung in a local Italian restaurant.