In the Weeds

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I shot this photo just yesterday. I’ve posted numerous photos from Gibbs Gardens before, but each season at the gardens features different types of plants that are blooming or in season. In February, it is daffodils – 22 million of them (literally). At other times of the year, it’s roses, or hydrangeas, magnolias, azaleas, water lilies, wildflowers or something. But right now, it’s November and it is time for the Japanese maples to burst forth in their glorious color.

The materials I read about the gardens say that there are over 2000 Japanese maples. Many of them are found on an easy, flat walk straight into the gardens toward the Japanese garden area. There are ponds of water, graceful arching bridges, bronze sculptures of children at play…and then there are the myriad of other plants, but what captures one’s attention right now is the Japanese maples.

Today’s picture doesn’t really feature the maples, but you will see some over the next few days. I didn’t know there was such a wide variety of Japanese maples, but some are gold, some yellow, some green, some a shade of purple, and then there are flaming reds.

As we were on our way to view the maples, we went past this point and I thought it deserved a click of the shutter. I got down close to the ground so I could get the grasses in the foreground in the frame, too. I liked the focus and clarity of the image. Sometimes it pays to get down in the weeds to get a photo.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1605, early in the morning, King James I of England learned that a plot to explode the Parliament building had been foiled, hours before he was scheduled to sit with the rest of the British government in a general parliamentary session.

At about midnight on the night of November 4-5, Sir Thomas Knyvet, a justice of the peace, found Guy Fawkes lurking in a cellar under the Parliament building and ordered the premises searched. Some 20 barrels of gunpowder were found, and Fawkes was taken into custody. During a torture session on the rack, Fawkes revealed that he was a participant in an English Catholic conspiracy to annihilate England’s Protestant government and replace it with Catholic leadership.

What became known as the Gunpowder Plot was organized by Robert Catesby, an English Catholic whose father had been persecuted by Queen Elizabeth I for refusing to conform to the Church of England. Guy Fawkes had converted to Catholicism, and his religious zeal led him to fight in the Spanish army in the Netherlands. Catesby and the handful of other plotters rented a cellar that extended under Parliament, and Fawkes planted the gunpowder there, hiding the barrels under coal and wood.

As the November 5 meeting of Parliament approached, Catesby enlisted more English Catholics into the conspiracy, and one of these, Francis Tresham, warned his Catholic brother-in-law Lord Monteagle not to attend Parliament that day. Monteagle alerted the government, and hours before the attack was to have taken place Fawkes and the explosives were found. By torturing Fawkes, King James’ government learned of the identities of his co-conspirators. During the next few weeks, English authorities killed or captured all the plotters and put the survivors on trial, along with a few innocent English Catholics.

Guy Fawkes himself was sentenced, along with the other surviving chief conspirators, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in London. Moments before the start of his gruesome execution, on January 31, 1606, he jumped from a ladder while climbing to the hanging platform, breaking his neck and dying instantly.

In 1606, Parliament established November 5 as a day of public thanksgiving. Today, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated across Great Britain every year on November 5 in remembrance of the Gunpowder Plot. As dusk falls, villagers and city dwellers across Britain light bonfires, set off fireworks, and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes, celebrating his failure to blow Parliament and James I to kingdom come.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Mark Twain once quipped that “while the rest of the human race are descended from monkeys, redheads derive from cats.”

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