In my March 27, 2014, HH&H Blog "Wind Up the Automatons" I mentioned the 200-year-old clockwork boy—"Draughtsman-Writer" by Henri Maillardet.
An Update: I found a 240-year-old Writer Automaton created by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, a 50 year old Swiss watchmaker. The boy doll can write any custom text up to 40 letters long. He inks his goose feather pen from time to time and shakes his wrist to preventing ink from spilling. He follows the writing with his eyes and moves his head when he dips his pen. He is on display at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Watch the amazing video by BBC and lesterfontayne.
|Courtesy of Chonday.com|
So, what does that have to do with tumbleweeds? Nothing. I thought you might enjoy a past Blog update.
You've seen tumbleweeds in the movie shoot-out scenes rolling across the dirt street between the gunslingers and probably read passages describing them in western novels. You may have sung the 1940's Sons of the Pioneers, "Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds." They're even cast in bronze.
|Tumbleweed, cast bronze, artist—Bale Creek Allen|
|Tumbleweeds in Arizona—Photo by McDonald|
|courtesy of The Pueblo West View newspaper|
|Tumbleweeds along the Santa Ana River—photo by Douglas McCulloh|
|courtesy of Marilynn Andreasen's save on pinterest.com|
|Tumbleweed Lamp—courtesy of remodelista.com|
According to history, the Prickly Russian Thistle seeds accidentally hitchhiked from Russia to South Dakota in an 1870's flaxseed shipment. One report cited 1877 as the year the seeds arrived in Bon Homme County, South Dakota. By 1900, it had reached the Pacific Coast. Once a tumbleweed, one of about eleven plant groups, matures and dries, it detaches from its root/stem and blows away in the wind. As it tumbles, it deposits seeds or spores that germinate in wet soil.
Whether you call it a Tumbleweed, Russian Thistle, or Wind Witch-another common name in the West, this skeleton of a shrub can disperse typically 250,000 seeds per plant. The seeds don't have protective coatings or stored food reserves. Each seed is a coiled, embryonic plant surrounded by a thin membrane and doesn't germinate until temperatures reach between 28 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tumbleweeds live up to their name and as weeds are destructive to native ecosystems. However, some good has come from them. Canadian farmers used tumbleweeds as hay and silage for livestock during a severe drought in the 1930's.
Do you have tumbleweeds where you live?
|Linda "Lin" Farmer Harris|
Lin and her husband, Jerry, live on a ranch in Chimney Rock, Colorado. She writes historical fiction for adults and children. Her novella The Lye Water Bride is included in the California Gold Rush Romance Collection (Barbour Publishing, August 1, 2016.
Turning Tidbits of History into Unforgettable Stories