Sunday, 12 December 2010

Deadly Nightshade

I don't often do drawings of nuisance plants, but today is an exception.  I have done two drawings of Solanum dulcamara or Bitter Nightshade.  These plants belong to the family, Solanaceae.  The various common names include:   deadly nightshade, blue bindweed, poisonberry, snakeberry and violet bloom.  I grew up calling the plant Deadly Nightshade which I feel is much more exciting sounding than something like blue bindweed!  However, there is another plant that is actually named Deadly Nightshade and is much more toxic so I guess I really should call it something like Bitter Nightshade to distinguish it from the other plant.

Solanum dulcamara is native to Europe and Asia, but some foolish person brought it to North America where it has become an invasive species in the Great Lakes region especially.  However it managed to get here, the first reports of it were given in 1843 -- so you can see that it is well-established.

Bitter Nightshade is actually a vine with flowers.  If it has something to attach itself to, it will climb, but it is usually found growing along the ground.  The fruit consists of berries which, when ripe, are red in colour and are much liked by birds.  This, of course, means that the seeds get widely distributed.

The generic name of Solanum is derived from Solor meaning "I ease" and testifies to the narcotic power of this group of plants.  The second name, dulcamara, used to be correctly written in the Middle Ages as Amaradulcis, signifying the common name of "bittersweet" in reference to the fact that the root and stem, if chewed, taste first bitter and then sweet.  What these people were doing chewing this plant in the first place is beyond me, but mankind will try almost anything if it has some sort of narcotic effect.

Solanum dulcamara is used in naturopathy and herbalism for conditions dealing with skin problems and problems of the mucous membranes as well as the membranes around the joints.  Some consider it a herbal remedy for treating herpes and allergies.  Personally, I don't trust this plant as it can make you very ill and there have been reports that it has even killed children.  The poison it contains is believed to be solanine.  You can see why I prefer the name Deadly Nightshade!

There is nothing really new in this second drawing, I just liked the idea of doing both a horizontal and a vertical version.  Plus, I really liked working with these colours!

Here is a small copy of an icon I posted some months ago now.  This is St. Juan Diego holding his tilma on which is miraculously imprinted the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The celebration of the occurrence of Blessed Mary's intervention in the lives of the Aztec peoples is December 12th.  This year, the 12th falls on a Sunday so the Church does not celebrate it as the 3rd Sunday of Advent takes precedence.  So, I am just remembering it in my own special way by sharing the image with you!  Happy Feast Day to you all.
Next, I want to show you some cute images of puppy dogs.  There are four is all; however, the last one is not so much cute as it is sweet and a bit sad.

This first one comes with its own title.  I found it on a pps that was listing some things to do in your life and showing cute pictures with each one.  I really like the photo of the puppies so I grabbed it to show to you folks.  Puppies like kittens are so adorable that we get sucked in by their cuteness and take them home with us and the next thing you know, they are running our lives!  Oh, well, it could be worse, I guess.

Here is another one that I thought was really cute.  With their short legs and long ears, beagles always seemed kind of dopey to me; however, this one is smart enough to use a fan in hot weather.  I do like the windblown look it gives her!

Here we have a dog that may be unhappy or maybe he is just impatiently waiting for the fun part -- getting the soap washed off with the hose.  I am not sure since the dog was obviously posed for the photo so maybe it is used to sitting around in wash tubs covered in soap suds!  Anyway, I think it is another cute photo.

Finally, I want to show you the photo that is both sweet and sad. 

In some mid-western town in the U.S., the folks found that a stray dog had curled up and gone to sleep at the feet of the Baby Jesus in the creche they had set up for Christmas.  The people in the town decided to just leave the dog there and let him sleep as long as he wished as it was a cold, snowy night.  One point of interest is that the dog is a shepherd, sleeping at the feet of the Good Shepherd!  I do hope that when the dog awakened there was at least a big bowl of food waiting for him.  Even better would have been a family taking him home with them to keep.

My poor, old joints have been aching a lot lately -- probably due to all this cold, damp weather we have been having.  No snow so far for Toronto just cold rain and cloudy skies.  Our spirits may be lifting later this week with the promise of cold and sunny weather.  The sun always makes me feel better.

However, neither cold nor damp nor sleet nor snow will keep me from celebrating my 70th birthday on Tuesday!  Nothing will stop me from giving thanks to God for all the years He has given me and for all the joys and sorrows I have experienced.  It is wonderful when you can look back over the years and see all the different events and people who have given a richness to the tapestry of your life -- realizing that without the difficulties and sufferings there would be nothing to combine with the joys and happy moments.  I am grateful for it all and so I find myself at peace.  What could be better? 

Suki also is doing well.  I can't help but wonder what she plans to give me for my birthday!!

May the peace of God be with you all.

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