I was flat out amazed at how many buildings were built in the 1600s and are still there and still being used. Their use today may be different than in times past, but they are still in use.
When scientists began to take a closer look at the natural world all around them, they did not always agree on what they saw. They did not always accurately understand what they saw. They often jumped to conclusions, especially if they were still influenced by the belief in spontaneous generation. The old, traditional belief that living things could come from non-living things-–still held by many––caused some especially heated debates.
In 1620 Dr. Jan Baptista van Delmont wrote and published a paper to prove that living things DID come from non-living things. Based on what he, personally, had seen, he wrote a recipe for making mice! (Why anyone would want to make mice, I don’t know, I guess he wasn’t concerned with that.)
According to Dr. van Delmont, if you put a piece of sweaty, smelly underwear in an open mouth jar and added some wheat, in twenty-one days full-grown mice would emerge. This was considered scientific observation at that time; not quite the way Maria Sybilla Merian handled her observations of the transformations of caterpillars into butterflies and moths. She studied the caterpillars carefully, documenting with notes and paintings all of the changes that occurred. In fact, she thoroughly documented the entire life cycle…proving that caterpillars did not just ooze up out of the ground, but came from eggs that the butterflies and moths laid. Her method of research is still used today.
It is generally assumed that Maria Sybilla’s birthday was April 2, 1647, however that is the day she was baptized. Because the death rate of babies was so high back then, most babies were baptized two days after birth. Therefore…Happy Unbirthday, Maria Sybilla!
My manuscript about the life and time period of Maria Sybilla Merian is finished. Now I wait for comments from my beta readers. I feel like it must be similar to the caterpillar now in the chrysalis stage. One “life” of the book is finished, the middle one is in progress, the final transformation is in the future.
It has been quite a journey, starting with the day my daughter came home from the university and said, “Mom, there’s a lady you need to write a book about.” I remember looking up from the computer, asking who. When she replied, “Maria Sybilla Merian,” my immediate response was “Who?” And that’s the exact same response I get when I mention Maria Sybilla.
I have learned an enormous number of things while researching her life. I had many questions beyond the typical ones, such as: Is it easier to carry buckets of water uphill or downhill? Turns out I didn’t need to know that answer because there was a well located right in front of their house in Nürnberg. Another question was: How did the residents of Amsterdam get drinking water? Not the canals because they contained seawater. Answer: They had to buy their water from a waterboat! And: How hot IS it in Suriname? Answer: Energy Draining! Yet, at the same time the trade winds blow nice breezes. The result is that if you are in the sun it’s pretty bad, but it’s very nice sitting in the shade. No wonder so many people take breaks to sit in the shade!
I managed to travel to Germany and to Suriname, which was great. I love traveling. Didn’t get to be a tourist, but I still loved it.
Thank you, Maria Sybilla Merian.
Got up this morning when I heard the birds singing and people talking out on the porch downstairs. My first order of business, after breakfast (discovered I absolutely LOVE fresh papaya!), was to find the bookstore and buy a map… Next on my list was to book a trip into the rain forest (Monday).
Wandered around a bit; found the Palm Garden and the Presidential Palace…and the big wooden church of Sts. Peter and Paul… If I get a little used to the layout of the city and where things are today, then I can zero in on something tomorrow.
Today it rained — a SUDDEN shower that lasted maybe two minutes. I happened to be enjoying a cold drink out on the porch of TwenTy4 at the time.