Daily Archives: January 13, 2011

Snowy Chestnut Street, 1899 and 2011

Another digging-out day on Chestnut Street, but clear and bright, with the trees bearing the brunt of yesterday’s storm.  Here are a few images of the street on days after the storm:  today and in 1899.  The historical images, from Loring family archives in the Schlesinger Library at Harvard, are looking up and down the salt-free  (and obviously car-free) street.  The eastward perspective has a nice view of the facade of Samuel McIntire’s majestic South Congregational Church, which stood from 1804 until its destruction by fire in 1903.  When I look at this photograph, I can appreciate the gaping hole that was opened up on the street  by that fire only several years later, a hole that was not really filled by the construction of a new and less-impressive  Gothic Revival church which itself burned down in 1950, not to be replaced.  A sidewalk view of the street best approximates the feeling of 1899, though of course, and sadly, there are no Elm trees.   There are also several images of stately houses on the sunny side of the street today, where the mix of sunshine and snow-covered trees created some interesting shadows.

An Assemblage of Owls

Inspired by news and a great photograph of a big barred owl that has recently taken up residence in south Salem, I assembled a little group of owls on my bedroom mantle.  Several of these guys come from the two connected shops on Front Street in Salem,  Roost and the Beehive, which I stop by with increasing regularity.  I love printed and figural representations of birds and animals and am rather enthusiastic about displaying them in our home:  elephants are always around —to the point of near-tackiness and maybe beyond—and I’ve gone through bear, deer, swan, snail, and rabbit phases with little restraint.  I’m thinking about foxes for the future.  I had a brief bout with owls this fall and thought I was done, but apparently not.  A passing glance at that great owl on McKinley Road drove me to retrieve my “owl box” in the basement and to my favorite medieval bestiary, the “Salisbury” Bestiary from circa 1250, for the images below.  To illustrate the increasingly realistic (and scientific) perception of the owl, I’ve also included images from Konrad Gessner’s Histories of the Animals (1551-58), one of my favorite teaching texts because of its beautiful woodcut illustrations and its nascent empiricism, and John Gould’s more recent Birds of New Guinea and the Adjacent Papua Islands (1875).

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