Industry and Indolence: Aesop’s Fable of The Ant and the Grasshopper

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black ants crawl amid dry leaves and twigs“How we spend our days,” wrote Annie Dillard “is, of course, how we spend our lives.” And there are few examples of how we spend our lives more appropriate to the season than Aesop’s fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper. On the surface merely a harsh lesson in thrift and planning, on a deeper level it becomes a koan which opens up the questions of what it means to live and what it means to truly be alive. Read more

The Enchantress’s Garden From “The Snow Queen”: Permanent Paradise or Enchanted Distraction?

note: Often the purpose of links is to indicate further information is available on related topics. Most are independent, but some help support this web site.

a winter scene looking across a frosty heathHaving just sampled the field of memorable and inspired renditions, I simply couldn’t let January pass by without sharing another example from the Golden Age of children’s book illustration, populated by figures such as Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway, George Cruikshank and John Tenniel, or the unforgettable Kay Nielsen . . . who happens to share the name of what main character?

You surely know the answer to that by now!

So what have we here? Read more

Crocuses, Clivias, and the Forgotten Legacy of Johanna Daemen

A book on house plants, published in 1929, has a large, stylized Clivia on the cover.
A book on house plants, published in 1929, has a large, stylized Clivia on the cover designed by Johanna Daemen.

Few Americans have heard of the Dutch graphic designer, illustrator, artist, lyricist, and writer Johanna Maria Hendrika Daemen (1891-1944), and it’s a pity. She began her varied career as a teenager, and since it’s Women’s History Month you’ll be pleased to discover much of it would involve publications aimed at women in the marketplace. Read more