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janus_1

In the Roman pantheon, Janus is the two-faced god of beginnings, limits, doors, gateways, and departure.  Unlike the other Greco-Roman deities, Janus was not imported from Greece to Rome.  How he arrived in the Roman pantheon is unclear: some scholars believe that he was originally a gatekeeping deity of the near East while others argue he was an original Latin deity who was worshipped in Italy before Rome rose to power.  Similarly there are different myths concerning his origin.  The most dramatic tale of his creation asserts that he was made by Uranus, god of the primal heavens as a love present for dark Hecate.  Janus despised being in the underworld so he escaped from Hecate by diving into the river Styx and swimming to the world above.

Janus

After fleeing the underworld, Janus acted as one of the earliest kings of Rome in the golden era when the titans ruled the world, however at the end of the titanomachy—the epic war between titans and Olympians—he made the poor decision to give shelter to Saturn, hated father of Jupiter.  Jove was furious at Janus because of this betrayal and he cursed him with immobility and with a second face.  Thereafter Janus stood at the threshold of heaven to open and close the gate as Jupiter came and went.

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Janus was a popular god for the Romans and they worshipped him whenever they started a new venture or embarked on a trip.  January is named after the god and the first day of every month is dedicated to him. The ancient temple of Janus stood in the center of Rome was open during war and closed during times of peace.  Since the Romans were a warlike people the temple was rarely closed and sometimes stood open for hundreds of years at a time.

Early spring is an anxious time in the flower garden–particularly for a difficult urban garden like mine.  The back yard faces north, which means the ground usually lies in shade or outright darkness.  Despite a whole year’s worth of frenetic digging (to say nothing of all the fancy dirt I bought and carried up the hill from Lowes), the garden is still mostly pebbles and medical waste.  I have excavated so many syringes, pill bottles, bones, and broken mirrors that I have almost conceived a comprehensive picture of the Clive Barker lifestyle of the previous renters.

Despite all of this, my spring bulbs did indeed survive their long wait in the frozen ground.  My flowers peeped up weeks after those planted by lucky neighbors with loamy gardens (I drove my poor munificent otter to distraction by fretting about the bulbs before they made their tardy appearance).  My crocuses were finally blooming this weekend.  The muscari and tulips are getting ready for their big show.  The hybrid tea-roses are back.  Unlike the other flowers, these roses live on a fenced patch of concrete out front where it is sunny:  they thrive despite the grabby multitudes passing by on the thoroughfare.

Sadly not everything has gone as I had hoped.  There is no sign of the poison hellebores,  the fiendish monkshoods, or the lovely toxic foxgloves.  The black iris is also missing in action and presumed lost.  Sigh.  The underworld garden of dangerous plants which I laid out last year has failed—only the dark yew remains to commend me to the druids.  In its place I have tiny white crocuses,  happy lines of pink tulips, a pretty primrose, and a scattering of delicate little pansies.

First!

Dearest Readers,

It is I, your earnest friend, Wayne Ferrebee.  I’m going to start up a blog about art, science, history, and everything else I care about.  This is my very first post.

Ha ha!  April Fools!  I have orchestrated a merry prank on all of you!

Hmm, actually wait a minute.  Now that I think about it maybe it really is time to start blogging…

“Well, did he start a blog or not?”  “Who cares?  Let’s drink!”

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