In a life replete with disappointment, Tata Sous-sus could not recall ever feeling so hopeless. Because her hands had become so shaky, endeavors such as needlepoint seemed futile. Because of her poor eyesight, reading had become a headache-inducing chore. Curtailment of her activities had been loosened up a bit, so she was allowed to walk along the battlements of the North Tower where she was incarcerated. This was her sole relief from the tedium of incarceration.
On this particular day, she and her companion, a woman who simply went by the name Jeanne, had just stepped into the fresh air when Jeanne cried out, “Look! It’s a double rainbow! We don’t see very many of them, now do we?”
Tata felt her heart leap in her chest. To her own amazement, she remembered a verse from the bible: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.(Genesis 9:13)
I just had to include a cabbage butterfly! I find these butterflies to be among the most difficult to photograph. The never seem to rest, constantly fluttering about, never stopping to eat…or anything else.
From the plaza below her, Queen Pirouette was clearly visible to all. Dressed in a white gown, with little pink ribbons that made a circle around her skirt and festooned her sleeves from shoulder to wrist, she exuded femininity and royalty. On her head, she wore a crown of gold which to the people below resembled a halo. She rose both her arms in greeting, smiling benignly. She was the Queen, in all her glory and splendor.
[Note: Americans spell splendor differently than other countries, just like the word color. We leave out the “u” after that last “o.”]
Standing in the center of the large room, Tata Sous-sus could feel her entire body shaking. Bleacher seats had been erected against the walls to her left and right. Behind her stood a dozen palace guards. Before her sat three men with tall conical hats that covered their faces, revealing only their eyes and mouths through narrow slits. They sat at a dark wooden table and were elevated at least 5 meters above everybody else in the room. It was, in fact, a makeshift courtroom that had been built on the first floor of the dreaded North Tower, that she might be arraigned for murder charges in the death of the Baroness, Lady Greenmeadow.
The man in the center spot at the table began to speak. To Tata, his words were cryptic, peppered with Latin phrases and punctuated with the words, “whereas,” and “therefore.” Twice the judge asked her, “How do you plead?” But it seemed as if all powers of speech had left her. The third time, the judge fairly shouted, “Madame! How do you plead to these very serious charges?”
“I never hurt anyone in my entire life!” Croaked Tata Sous-sus. “Never! As God is my witness!”
The judge at Tata’s left spoke. Straining her ears, Tata thought she recognized the voice, “Innocent. Record her plea as innocent.”
It seemed as if half of the entire court was packed into the room. Granted, it was a large room. Along the entire length of one wall was a bank of glass windows stretching from floor to ceiling, which gave the room an air of being even larger. Two of the windows in the center were actually French doors that opened to a balcony. The balcony itself looked down on a plaza that could hold thousands of people. Indeed, thousands were gathered for a glimpse of their Queen- Queen Pirouette.
In the center of the room stood Queen Pirouette and her soon-to-be husband, GarGar, le comte des Deux Chats. With arms interlocked, they moved slowly towards the balcony. The report of canons from a distant tower announced to the people that their Queen would soon be appearing to give them a wave. It was a ceremony that Pirouette relished because it gave her a true sense of connection with her subjects.
The couple paused before stepping onto the balcony. Their eyes locked. GarGar gave Pirouette a little wink of the eye and said, “Shall we, my dear?” In response, Pirouette kissed GarGar on the cheek. When they emerged, the crowd burst into thunderous applause and cheers. “God save the Queen!” They shouted.
According to legend, Queen Anne was making lace by hand (known as tatting.) She pricked her finger with her needle and single drop of blood fell on her handiwork. That is why there is a red spot in the center of the blossom. There is debate over which Queen Anne was tatting. Some say it was Anne of Denmark (1574-1619) who was the wife of James I of England (also known as James VI of Scotland) who was eight years senior to Anne. The other sovereign in question is Anne (1665-1719) daughter of James II (grandson of James I.)
Queen Anne’s Lace is not native to North America. It was brought over by European settlers (a nice word for invaders, don’t you think?) Its flowers can be used to make a natural yellow dye. Parts of the plant are mentioned by herbalists as a diuretic, an antiseptic, soothing to the digestive system, useful for colic, and as a hallucinogenic! Queen Anne’s Lace was a valuable enough medicinal herb that colonists relied on it. It was also considered a reliable contraceptive. (Don’t try this at home!)