Thursday, March 07, 2013

Coincidentally Meeting Victoria Amazonica and Chico Mendes

The etymology dictionary defines a coincidence as "a concurrence of events with no apparent connection." A related word is coincide.

We dropped M off at the UW Medical Center where she had an appointment.  In the lobby I saw this painting, which, because of the lights and a glass frame, was hard to photograph.   Here are parts.  I wasn't completely taken.  I liked the birds - and there are other animals as well - but I wasn't sure about the style.  But then I read the caption. 
"If you look closely you'll see the noble face of Chico Mendes peering out of the rain forest.  Mendes was the Brazilian rubber harvester who fought to defend the Amazonian forest.  In 1988 he was murdered by timber interests who resented his efforts"
 The painting is by Alredo Arrequin who came to Washington from Mexico when he was 23 to study at the University of Washington.

A New York Times book review of two books about Mendes says:

In life, Mendes was a unionist who defended the rights of his fellow Amazonian rubber tappers to live in the forest and harvest rubber and nuts. In Acre, where 130 ranchers expelled an estimated 100,000 tappers from the forest, Mendes fought back, rallying families to stand in front of chain saws and bulldozers. In death, Mendes, an international eco-martyr, became the catalyst for popularizing the concept that the wealth of the Amazon resides in its profusion of plant and animal life, not in its thin, sandy soil.
''In leading this struggle to preserve the Amazon, Chico Mendes had made a lot of trouble for a lot of powerful people,'' Andrew Revkin writes in ''The Burning Season.'' ''He was to the ranchers of the Amazon what Cesar Chavez was to the citrus kings of California, what Lech Walesa was to the shipyard managers of Gdansk.''
 So, now I know Chico Mendes because an artist painted a picture dedicated to him and it ended up on the wall of a Seattle medical center.

So we had time and took Z for a walk around the campus.  We stumbled into the greenhouses where we saw Victoria Amazonica.

 From Tree of Life Website:

"The most interesting thing about this flower is the large leaves that it creates. The leaves can grow up to 46 centimeters in size and can hold up to 136 kilograms, the leaves are flat before growing rims at the edge of the leaf. The leaves are strong and stiff thanks to the strong bottom of the leaves. The bottoms are covered with spines to help support the ribs. The bottom of the leaf is maroon in colour. The Giant Water Lily does not grow year round in areas where it is not a native species, such as Great Britain; it only grows and reproduces in the summertime when the climate is warm. However, in its native Brazil and in the Amazon it grows all year long, due to the optimum conditions."

Some other plants we saw in the greenhouses:

Then we wandered around the campus before meeting back up with M.

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