Idyllic Peace, #4

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Saturday we rose earlier than usual and went back to Gibbs Gardens in order to enjoy the gardens before lots of families with kids got there – and I’m glad we did. While it wasn’t real early (they don’t open until 9 a.m.), we were among the first folks to arrive. Some of the others who were there were retirees, but most were photographers lugging around their tripods and camera gear.

My wife and I had a specific part of the gardens in mind: the Japenese gardens where the Japanese maples are in color. At the entrance, I heard one of the hosts talking to another guest, telling them that while the color is good right now, that in another 7-10 days it would really be at its peak. (I may just have to go back again!)

While we were driving there, there were areas between ridges and hills where there was a foggy mist and it made me have hope that there might be some mist rising up off the surface of some of the ponds in the Japanese garden section. So, no sooner did we get there than we made a bee-line to the ponds. And that’s where I got today’s photo.

I know it is rather “underexposed” (I have versions that are properly exposed – let me know if you want to see one), but I liked what this image captured: a woodsy garden area that was still yawning in its attempt to awaken from a night of slumber with wispy tendrils of mist rising from the pond, stretching skyward. I almost expected to see leprechauns or sprites to appear at any moment. I liked the way this image captured a bit of mystery in the scene.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1956, a spontaneous national uprising that began 12 days before in Hungary was viciously crushed by Soviet tanks and troops. Thousands were killed and wounded and nearly a quarter-million Hungarians fled the country.

The problems in Hungary began in October 1956, when thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding a more democratic political system and freedom from Soviet oppression. In response, Communist Party officials appointed Imre Nagy, a former premier who had been dismissed from the party for his criticisms of Stalinist policies, as the new premier. Nagy tried to restore peace and asked the Soviets to withdraw their troops. The Soviets did so, but Nagy then tried to push the Hungarian revolt forward by abolishing one-party rule. He also announced that Hungary was withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact (the Soviet bloc’s equivalent of NATO).

On November 4, 1956, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest to crush, once and for all, the national uprising. Vicious street fighting broke out, but the Soviets’ great power ensured victory. At 5:20 a.m., Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy announced the invasion to the nation in a grim, 35-second broadcast, declaring: “Our troops are fighting. The Government is in place.” Within hours, though, Nagy sought asylum at the Yugoslav Embassy in Budapest. He was captured shortly thereafter and executed two years later. Nagy’s former colleague and imminent replacement, János Kádár, who had been flown secretly from Moscow to the city of Szolnok, 60 miles southeast of the capital, prepared to take power with Moscow’s backing.

The Soviet action stunned many people in the West. Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev had pledged a retreat from the Stalinist policies and repression of the past, but the violent actions in Budapest suggested otherwise. An estimated 2,500 Hungarians died and 200,000 more fled as refugees. Sporadic armed resistance, strikes and mass arrests continued for months thereafter, causing substantial economic disruption. Inaction on the part of the United States angered and frustrated many Hungarians. Voice of America radio broadcasts and speeches by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had recently suggested that the United States supported the “liberation” of “captive peoples” in communist nations. Yet, as Soviet tanks bore down on the protesters, the United States did nothing beyond issuing public statements of sympathy for their plight.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The American Heart Association recommends that adult women eat no more than 24 grams, or 6 teaspoons, of added (beyond naturally occurring sugar) sugar and men no more than 36 grams, or 9 teaspoons, per day. The current average is over 30 teaspoons of sugar per day.

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