On The Brink Of December

On a bright and sunny morning I wandered round the garden in my shirtsleeves.

Individual titles of these views can be found when accessing the gallery with a click on any image. The last two pictures show a Japanese maple before and after it had been pruned by Aaron and his A.P. Maintenance team who also

tidied up some of the beds.

Even a sleepy bee on a cobea scandens didn’t seem to realise that we are on the brink of December.

‘So enchanting was the vision of a stateless society, without government, without law, without ownership of property, in which, corrupt institutions having been swept away, man would be free to be good as God intended him, that six heads of state were assassinated for its sake in the twenty years before 1914. They were President Carnot of France in 1894, President Canovas of Spain in 1897, Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1898, King Humbert of Italy in 1900, President McKinley of the United States in 1901, and another Premier of Spain, Canalejas, in 1912. Not one could qualify as a tyrant. Their deaths were the gestures of desperate or deluded men to call attention to the Anarchist idea.’ So begins the second chapter of my Folio Society edition of Barbara W. Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’, namely The Idea and the Deed – The Anarchists: 1890-1914′.

This chapter deals with the Anarchism that swept Europe during this period leading to WWI – the theory of the intellectuals and the actions of those prepared to carry out ‘The Deed’ with which it was hoped the populace would be terrified into changing the orders of society. As always in such events, more ordinary people were killed than those for whom bombs or bullets were intended. Interestingly, it seems that Germany, who used the terror tactics espoused by their military theorists to suppress the Belgian people in August 1914, was the major European country least affected by the Anarchists.

Tuchman’s descriptions of the avowed terrorism bears alarming similarity to that technique practiced today. Unfortunately modern bombs are far more destructive than those that were available more than a century ago. Perpetrators are prepared now, as they were then, to sacrifice their own lives for their espoused cause.

The fluid writing in this work is far more literary than that permitted by the requirements of ‘The Guns of August’.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent shepherd’s pie; a leak and pork sausage; roast potatoes; moist ratatouille; and firm cauliflower, carrots and Brussels sprouts with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Coonawarra.


  1. The garden is still looking charming even on the cusp of December, testament to all the Head Gardener’s hard work, not forgetting that of her trusty helpers.

  2. I wasn’t familiar with Tuchman’s The Proud Tower. I suspect a link between your reference to the brink of December and the time period her book focuses on. I’m put it on my list. Given the current anarchist tendencies in this country, and all the hoopla about the Great Reset, it seems there might be enough parallels to make the book more than usually interesting.

  3. Flowering Cherry blossoms always attract the eye Derrick…. here’s my an old poem of mine, ‘Blossom Over Jerusalem’
    Blossom Over Jerusalem
    I write about the purple moon
    That eats the night with a silver spoon
    I write about the yellow sun
    That bathes our day with gold by the ton
    I hear the bird’s morning songs
    They caress the world’s souls, right or wrong
    I hear the animals’ mighty roars
    They remind us of the great outdoors
    I see the blue sky above
    Where life’s white doves carry our love
    I see the green pastures, beyond Jerusalem
    Where life’s fruit trees blush with blossom

    1. I don’t think I’ll ever have one of those, Catherine. I do sometimes post pics from the upstairs windows. The size is one third of an acre including house and long back drive. Thanks very much.

  4. I will put this book on my list. I always learn something new, and of value here.
    Still so much color in your gardens. A delight to the eye, and the soul!

  5. I enjoyed your garden photos so much, I looked through them twice. 🙂 I like that the team was using what appeared to be a reusable refuse bin. I use a plastic trash can for garden refuse. Some people here use large, heavy paper bags, but some still use the plastic bags.

  6. Your garden remains beautiful! In late November/early December, we are experiencing warm (75 degrees), dry, windy weather. Fortunately no fires yet, but that’s always a possibility in this weather!

      1. Thanks — I read something about a small fire this morning — the winds are relatively quiet here, but rather fierce still in the mountains, and this week is one of the worst for fire danger every year for some reason! The other good news is that traffic is very much lighter on the freeways than usual — my 3-hour drive home from Santa Barbara took about 2-1/2 hours yesterday!

  7. Yes, December is upon us!
    Your garden makes me feel a wonderful warmth…from all of the growth and beauty!
    OH! I always love seeing Florence!!!
    Aaron and Team are doing a good job! Way to go, Guys!!!
    Love seeing the sleepy bee… YAWN. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing the excerpt from the chapter you read. Powerful and poignant.

  8. The garden is still looking good. I agree with Mike, up here we have the November chill, albeit a little late this year.
    The book sounds like a very interesting read.

  9. Your garden looks beautiful in every season. I love that sleepy bee photo header.
    It’s incredible that so many European political leaders (plus President McKinley) were assassinated in that brief period of time prior to WWI. I imagine terrorism is always much the same (as is fanaticism), but travel and communication has become easier and weapons and technology have become more advanced.

  10. From the pretty and natural to the complex philosophies about how societies should be run/not run. All in one blog post! What an interesting post, Derrick.
    First, I’m a tad envious of all the great flowers blooming in your garden on the cusp of December. To this Canadian, these are amazing sights. We’ve only had one snowfall so far, but “Winter is coming”! Snow expected this week.
    Secondly, revolutions can be brutal for those living through them and I do not volunteer for the expeirence – yet, when we look back on some of the most brutal revolutions, we see why they were necessary and can barely imagine a society before those revolutions. (American, French, Cuban, and the US civil war.)

  11. Hi D
    They did a nice job in the tree and am the worker actin photos were cool –
    The photo gallery was nice because I could zoom in and out without going it I gallery mode and it was fun that way

  12. History keeps repeating itself and the destructive streaks in humans keeps revisiting the societies in grimmer and grimmer avatars. Tuchman has been prophetic, but I shudder to think of a Nuclear Winter befalling the lifeless expanses of the planet.

    1. You are so right, Uma. Last night we were watching a history programme about the Mayflower and the first settlers in America, and I observed that the benign intentions of the Puritans were overcome by the nature of the humans who followed. Thanks very much.

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