On this anniversary of September 11th, an illustration from The Survivor Tree, by Cheryl Aubin.
In late December or January, I usually take my daughter once or twice for a day of ice-skating at Washington DC’s Sculpture Garden rink, followed by hot cocoa and a cozy stroll through the National Gallery of Art or Museum of Natural History. As an urban skating experience, it’s hard to beat gliding round on a sunny winter day under an icy blue sky among sculptural masterpieces, with distant views of museum facades, the U.S. Capitol, and the Washington Monument.
However, since I fell and fractured my patella just before New Year’s Eve (no drinking was involved, I assure you!), our skating excursions have been put on hold… only temporarily, I hope. But DC’s “winter” weather has been so oddly and disconcertingly balmy this year that it feels more like roller-skating season. Fingers are crossed here for a snowy February.
This illustration is not from DC’s rink, but is my imagined depiction of the rink that existed on the World Trade Center plaza before September 11th, 2001. It was created for the book The Survivor Tree, about which I posted on the ten-year anniversary on September 11th, 2011.
And today is the birthday of Alexander Robey “Boss” Shepherd (1835–1902), whom Washington DC has to thank for much of its 19th-century infrastructure, however unconventionally (some might say illegally) it was obtained. For a mini-bio, please see “Boss” Shepherd.
This summer I completed the illustrations and layout for The Survivor Tree, a book by Cheryl Somers Aubin, created to help children deal with the traumatic experiences suffered on September 11th, 2001, in particular, and with loss and the struggle to heal, in general. Here is a brief summary of the book.
A month after the collapse of the Twin Towers, workers on the site discovered a few green leaves showing through the gray concrete and ash. Clearing the debris, they found a badly injured Callery Pear Tree. She was rescued and taken to a nursery outside the city and put into the care of Richie, a City Parks worker. No one was sure if she would live, but the following spring, a dove built a nest in her branches, and new green buds appeared.
Over the years, the tree, although still bearing scars, grew tall and strong, and last year she was replanted on the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. This story imaginatively describes the experiences, memories, and feelings of the tree throughout her healing and her eventual return home.
Today is the anniversary of the founding in 1870 of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, created, according to its charter, “for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction.”
With its program of exhibitions, tours, lectures, and concerts, activities for teachers, families, and children of all ages, and collections that include “more than two million works of art spanning five thousand years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe,” it can be regarded as fulfilling its mission.
On every visit to the MMA as far back as I can remember, somewhere I always encounter this guard, whose striking appearance merits depiction in one of the painting or sculpture galleries. I don’t think he’s been there since the founding. But it’s been a while. I hope he is writing his memoirs.
Today is also the anniversary of the enactment of the Edict of Nantes, a 16th century attempt at freedom of worship. For a sketch and a mini-history, please see One small step pour l’homme.
Please see August 23rd.
Well, not THAT Louis XIV. This one lives in a henhouse on the grounds of Thyme in the Country, a lovely B&B in Hudson, New York, where we enjoy visiting the cows and poultry, strolling around the pond, and admiring the organic vegetable garden. He’s probably happier than the original Louis.
Each spring at this time, the children of our homeschooling coop spend a week on a working farm. They feed the animals, gather eggs, milk cows, spread manure, plant seeds, work on meal preparation and cleanup, and generally help out with whatever needs to be done. This year they also participated in gathering and boiling sap for maple syrup, which they then ate with their pancakes the next morning. When we parents go to fetch them at the end of the week, they are muddy, tired, and already looking forward to returning next year. We always hope the children will come home begging for a few more chores to be added to their lists. Maybe if we kept a cow…