Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Weaths

The wreath has been a sign of honour or victory from Greek times.  Bay Laurel Leaves date from Greek mythology.  Other leaves that made wreaths included oak leaves - symbolizing wisdom, and were associated with Zeus.  We also think of wreaths as arrangements for funerals.  

The Etruscan's made wreaths - they were stamped in thin metal and attached to an ornamental band.  They included ivy, oak, olive, myrtle, laurel, wheat and vines.

In Christianity, the Christmas wreath was used to symbolize Christ. The circular shape, with no beginning or end, represents eternity or life never ending. The evergreen, most frequently used in making Christmas wreaths, symbolizes growth and everlasting life.  The wreaths were typically decorated with four candles, three on the exterior and one in the middle. The middle candle was lit on Christmas Eve to symbolize the arrival of the Light of the World - Jesus Christ.

A tradition began in the early 19th century to lay evergreens shaped into wreaths or crosses on graves to honour the dead. Family members would bring them home to use as part of their Christmas decorations during the holiday season.

So there is our wreath tradition.  Our first snow fall was yesterday, and I took pictures of the orchards across from the United Mennonite Home and on John Street.   This summer the Cherry Lane orchards got signs with their orchard names.

I've included a picture from the spring - what a contrast with those soft colours in the last image.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Surrounded by Water Sort Of

Niagara isn't really a peninsula.  Even though we call it that.  One article says it is  an isthmus - a relatively narrow tract of land joining two larger pieces of land - that is, connecting two larger areas across an expanse of water by which they are otherwise separated. Our two expanses of water are two of the Great Lakes - Erie and Ontario.  The Niagara River is the separator in the east, and the peninsula somehow 'ends' at Hamilton - there's no definitive 'join' place.  

A peninsula is a piece of land that is almost surrounded by water or projecting into a body of water.  So Niagara isn't a peninsula. References to the isthmus of Niagara are considered rare.  I found a wonderful scholarly article titled "When the Mountain Became the Escarpment" on the history.  It says that prior to the 1820's there was no peninsula as such - it was not recognized as a geographical feature.  There are many references to Niagara, Niagara District, Niagara Falls, etc, but no references about the Niagara Peninsula.  While the Niagara River created a political peninsula in addition to a geographical one, it wasn't until the Welland Canal in 1827 that the Niagara Peninsula became known as an entity in its own right.  The Niagara Escarpment - a term we take for granted - came about in the 1840's.  Previously it was called a mountain, ridge or slope.  Escarpment as a geological term - a mountain on one side - came into use then.

It is interesting that the Niagara River flows north - Oscar Wilde had words on this:

“Endless water falling the wrong way,” sniffed Oscar Wilde when he visited in late winter of 1882. The legendary Irish wit is also said to have claimed that the legendary honeymoon destination “must be a bride’s second-greatest disappointment.”

Our pictures today show the November orchards of the lower Niagara Escarpment.