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Summertime at the Cloisters

At this time of year, just footsteps from great works like The Annunciation Triptych and The Unicorn Tapestry, the square garden of the Cloisters is glassed in to keep the masterpieces warm and dry.


With just seventeen days until springtime my mind turned to the upcoming tours of this setting and the Bonnefont Cloister Garden that is one level down. Just like the masterpieces surrounding the garden, the plantings are in the Medieval style and very much alive. There is much that can be found here.


It was just last year that I discovered that Metropolitan Museum tours are not just about art education and began taking those tours to understand the beliefs of the medieval gardener. There I saw for the first time and learned the amazing folklore of the Mandrake. I began to understand farmers who believed that objects of nature had inherent powers which could be used to ward off evil spirits. Imagine a bad crop season being attributed to the malice of witches.


But whenever I walk there, no matter the season, I think about how appealing it must have once been to join the church. During that time in history, if you were a person of faith with good penmanship you could become a monk, spending your days transcribing the Bible. If your fingers cramped up, just a few footsteps away, there was this sunny and secure garden to walk in a collect your thoughts, sort of like being a blogger of the Middle Ages.

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Taken on August 26, 2012