Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
by Hayden Saunier
A first few
but from the start
this year, their numbers
And so the day
we knew would come
The bed has spent itself
exactly as it’s meant
But oh, the slender
multitudes we knelt beside
on damp spring afternoons,
sliced expertly with silver knives
and ate bright green
with sea salt,
threads of glossy
olive oil, back
then so many
we could never
taste the end.
“Asparagus” by Hayden Saunier from How to Wear This Body. © Terrapin Books, 2017. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of the man who said: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” That’s Thomas Jefferson, (books by this author) born in Albemarle County, Virginia (1743). And he certainly lived by those words. He wrote the Declaration of Independence for the fledging United States and then served as its minister of France, secretary of state, vice president, and president. But he was also — among other things — an inventor, philosopher, farmer, naturalist, astronomer, food and wine connoisseur, and musician. An early biographer, James Parton, described the young Jefferson a year before he helped write the Declaration of Independence: “A gentleman of 32 who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin.”
Jefferson was an important force in American architecture. He was inspired by Andrea Palladio’s The Four Books of Architecture, which drew from classical Roman principles, and he determined to improve Virginia’s architecture, which he disliked. He designed his great estate, Monticello, as well as the University of Virginia, the Virginia State Capitol, and a number of federal buildings in Washington, D.C. — he is responsible for the neoclassical look of our Capitol. He read widely in architecture throughout his life, and he observed buildings as he traveled and brought back new ideas to incorporate into his designs.
Jefferson said, “Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight.” Even as a scientist his interests varied widely. He knew physics, anatomy, botany, and geology. He was a talented astronomer who accurately predicted an eclipse in 1778. When he founded the University of Virginia in 1819, one of his main plans for its curriculum was astronomy, and he wanted to build the first planetarium and observatory in the country. He was also an enthusiastic naturalist and paleontologist. At one point, he had the East Room of the White House covered with potential mastodon bones.
His talent for botany was evident in his Monticello gardens and farm. In the gardens, he grew 170 varieties of fruit, 330 varieties of vegetables, and ornamental plants and flowers. He grew Mexican varieties of peppers, beans collected by Lewis and Clark, broccoli from Italy. The English pea was his favorite vegetable, and he had a Garden Book in which he kept exhaustive notes on the states of his turnips, lettuces, artichokes, tomatoes, eggplants, and squash — when each variety was sown, when it was mulched and how, when the first leaves or fruits appeared, which varieties were tastiest. His household ate from the garden, and he said that he ate meat and animal products” as a condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my principal diet.” Some of the varieties that Jefferson cultivated at Monticello have been passed down as heirloom vegetables, and people still plant them in their backyard gardens.
Overall, he had about 5,000 acres of farmland, planted mostly in wheat and other grains. The man who wrote “All men are created equal” defended the institution of slavery, and he was dependent on the labor of hundreds of slaves to keep his farms running. He spent a large part of his days supervising them; he wrote, “From breakfast, or noon at the latest, to dinner, I am mostly on horseback, Attending to My Farm or other concerns, which I find healthful to my body, mind, and affairs.”
Jefferson loved music. He wrote to an Italian friend: “If there is a gratification which I envy any people in this world it is to your country its music. This is the favorite passion of my soul, and fortune has cast my lot in a country where it is in a state of deplorable barbarism.” He played the violin, and sometimes the cello and harpsichord, and sang. He walked around Monticello singing and humming to himself.
It’s the birthday of writer Eudora Welty (books by this author), born in Jackson, Mississippi (1909). She wrote several novels, including The Optimist’s Daughter (1972), but she’s best known for her short stories, which she wrote, rewrote, and revised by cutting them apart with scissors at the dining-room table.
You can tour her house and garden in Jackson for $5, the house at 1119 Pinehurst Street that Welty moved into in 1925 with her parents when she was 16 and lived in until she died in 2001. The garden was planted by her mother Chestina so that there’d be something in bloom each season. There are larkspur, hollyhocks, and snapdragons for the spring; phlox, zinnias, and blue salvia for the summer; asters, chrysanthemums, and spider lilies for the fall, and camellias and pansies in winter.