In Other News…


I told Bear but she didn’t really get it. She DEFINITELY understood we were having a GREAT walk in the rain.

The mountains are at 3000 meters/10,000 feet so it’ll be a while before the snow descends on Bear and me. We can wait as long as there is this promise.

Just Another Walk in Heaven

Woke up this morning to…. RAIN????!!!!! Huh??? Ribbons of rain trailing down the windows to my complete surprise. Rain in the morning is exceedingly rare here in the back of beyond but it’s a sign of changing times meaning Fall and (OMG) WINTER!! ❄️

Teddy persuaded me yesterday (not much of a challenge) to take him out to the Big Empty. It’s so nice now. Beautiful light, beautiful breeze, comfortable temps, no deer flies. Oh yeah, I’ve said before. Yeah, well, I never take things like that for granted.

Readers will be happy to know that most of the garter snakes I saw were alive. I scared one to make it get out of the road. How? I walked closer and stomped on the ground. The little guy stuck out his tongue to see if I was worth eating and I saw how beautiful his tongue was — blue underneath, bright red on top. They aren’t colorful snakes, so I was a little surprised. When he decided I might be an SUV and not a grasshopper he high-tailed it (most of him is tail) into the grass. Teddy was less interested in him than Bear would have been, but not much.

The sky was indecisive, and for a very short time, we walked in the rain. Teddy is still a little crazy on the end of the leash, but a lot less so than last year. He’s growing up — four years this coming January. (PSA Many new dog owners don’t realize that a dog isn’t really mature mentally until they are a few years old.) I also think that having the chance to go out alone with me makes him happy. He wants me to scratch his little head the whole time I’m driving, which, given hay trucks, isn’t possible.

“There’s something there, Martha.”
“Thanks for letting me know, little guy. I wish you could tell me WHAT.”

“Constant interspecies problem, Martha.”
“I know, Teddy.”

Bear, meanwhile, this morning, is already hinting that it’s her turn. She’s not wrong, but…

Because of the moving clouds in the indecisive sky, the light changed constantly rendering the landscape a blue and yellow, pastel world. I felt like taking pictures, so…

If you’re pining for more Escape from Freedom, well, some things are swirling through my mind. One is that Fromm wrote somewhere (I will find it again) that the charismatic (my words, not his) will say words that don’t correspond with his actions and should be judge not by what he says, but what he does. He makes the point that contradiction is a trait of these people, that their psychology is built on it. I’ll find the passage and share it next time I feel like delving into another wandering analysis of this book.

The Next Stage

Big news in the back-of-beyond. There’s a stagecoach coming to town or something, no, wait, it’s already IN town. It’s leaving town and going to Del Norte, if everything goes as many hope and plan. I don’t know the whole story, but it looks like I might be writing it. I’m pondering that. The story has been offered to me, but I don’t know yet what the story is — at first I thought it was the fancy dinner being held next month at the local historical hotel, but after not sleeping on it (I am tired of this not sleeping thing, really, really, really and literally tired of it) I’m thinking the fancy dinner isn’t the story. It’s part of the story. The story would be the actual acquisition of the stagecoach, with, maybe the process involved in getting it. I dunno yet.

Yesterday I told the esteemed psychologist/philosopher, Mr. Fromm, I had other work to do and had to put down Escape from Freedom for a bit (whew), and I researched the stagecoach. I learned that it was mistakenly painted red when it was thought all the stagecoaches built by the company painted their coaches red, but then it was learned that the stagecoach wasn’t a big one. It’s a small one, a “mud wagon,” designed to navigate narrow roads through the mountains. Mud wagons were painted yellow ochre. The small ones weighed a couple tons unloaded. Its main job was to connect mining towns. At the end of its “life,” it was connecting towns in Northern New Mexico and the San Luis Valley; once remote and underserved by public transportation, always remote and underserved by public transportation.

There were a lot of stage lines back in the day, diminishing as the railroad came to various parts of the nation. As I read about this particular line, I thought about a meme I saw on Facebook not long ago where there was a horse harnessed to a wagon and words below the photo saying, “One upon a time our vehicles were propelled by engines that avoided hazards” or something like that. Horse drawn vehicles still exist on the roads of the San Luis Valley.

Amish buggy following an Amish wagon, both loaded with women, kids and groceries. I was kind of far away and took this through a dirty windshield.

Horse drawn vehicles are slower than cars, but they get there. They have different problems, but considering how many millennia people relied on them… OH well. My reading told me that the stage went about 15 miles/hour and at what distance they had to change horses. That’s pretty much the distance between towns along my street, US Hwy 160. I found a great, contemporary picture of the big stage in action.

This isn’t the Mud Wagon that’ll be rolling into Del Norte, but the big stage. This lithograph appears to show a stage in California with Mt. Shasta in the background. It’s loaded down with passengers with the Chinese riding on top. It cost $250 to cross the west from Kansas to California. The $250 included baggage.

Featured photo: Poor little Teddy trying so hard to get comfortable.

An Epiphany in Escaping from Freedom

It’s true; Escape from Freedom is heavy going for me. I don’t want to jinx it since I’m also enjoying it, and it’s been good for me recovering my brain from Covid, but I’m glad I wasn’t assigned the book to read over the weekend! Forgive me for all these boring posts.

Writing about it as I read helps me process and understand, which makes sense as my academic training at those liberal indoctrination camps was to do just that. I’ve been wading through what I have found to be Fromm’s somewhat questionable and slanted perspective on the Middle Ages and the transition to so-called “modern times.” But I am a medievalist. I like those people. I like their way of thinking. I like their institutions and their religious philosophy. I like their literature and their artwork. I don’t think I romanticize the period, but everything I’ve studied has shown me that we just don’t know much about them, and we assume a lot — for example that they never bathed and had no toilets. Studying them opened my eyes to the fact that we all share a future bias, which is that humanity is better now than it was in the past (whatever that means).

Anyway, one important thing Fromm seems not to have considered, or forgotten, or intentionally ignored, is the impact of the Black Death on the change between Medieval times and the, uh, uh, I’m just going to call it the 16th century. I mean, when 60% of the population of Europe DIES in roughly a decade during the 14th century from the Great Mortality, the world WILL change. One of the biggest changes was that it gave bargaining power to the peasants, tradesmen and craftsmen who survived the disease. (“men” = humans) “You want my labor? You pay for it!” “You want the food I grow? You pay for it!” “You want my skills? You pay for them!” People even moved to places where they had a better opportunity.

But, Fromm seems to be ignoring that and that’s OK. It’s not my book. The Reformation is his destination; it’s what he wants to write about. He is interested in what we might call the “cult of personality.” So am I.

By the beginning of the 16th century, the Church was losing its power over the people. It was a centuries long process. There are 12th and 13th century poems/minnesangs that complain about the pope’s treatment of people particularly those who live far away from Rome. The pope and the emperor(s) had been at war for generations over territory and power, wars that depended on mercenaries from Switzerland and, later, areas in what would become Germany. That ONE thing right there was a big factor in the success of the Swiss reformation in the early 16th century which ultimately led to the growth of several different protestant faiths. There was the period of the papal schism at the end of the 14th century when there were two popes — one in Italy, one in France. There were also what look to us from the long lens of time as “small” attempts to reform the church — Saint Francis — and pretty much every religious order — started out with that aim in mind. My point is that the church wasn’t a static, universally loved power over the people, not at all.

It never occurred to me before that the BIG change of the Reformation was that it put a charismatic (religious or other) leader in front of vulnerable people in contrast to the times when the church was God, God was the church and Bob’s your uncle. The plague (about which Fromm doesn’t write) would have scared the living shit out of people; it was Covid times a million. On top of that, death from the plague was gruesomely ugly, horrifying, and involved the color BLACK which we all know represents evil. People were more concerned about demonic possession than disease since disease WAS demonic possession. Fromm doesn’t write that along with the years of the Renaissance and Reformation came such leading lights as Savonarola or such noble institutions as the Spanish Inquisition, witch-hunts and heavy persecution of Jews who, during the Middle Ages were, for the most part, just other people in the village.

By the 15th century, I imagine people were lost — they’d gone through a period with two popes during the Great Papal Schism; people had died all over the place and the plague didn’t completely go away; clearly God had abandoned them. As Europe picked itself up after that, many great and good things happened, no question, but there was also a spiritual and leadership gap. Religious skepticism — disillusionment — had to have been enormous. Certainly they looked for someone to blame, something to blame and they looked for something to believe in.

In beginning his discussion of the Reformation, Fromm makes sure we (meaning I) understand that he’s talking about the psychology of the leaders and the followers. I’m cool with that, and as I read I got the feeling I was about to understand the very thing I’ve been struggling with for 6 or 7 years now. And voila…

Fromm writes that psychology of the leaders of the Reformation (early 16th century) meshed with qualities in the psychology of their followers that enabled a religious revolution. He emphasizes that it wasn’t logical, but psychological, meaning that contradictions were an intrinsic part of it. Fromm writes, “The influence of any doctrine of idea depends on the extent to which it appeals to psychic needs in the character structure of those to whom it is addressed. Only if the idea answers powerful psychological needs of certain social groups will it become a potent force in history.”

Nailed it.

I give you Exhibit A. Shooting an assault rifle from a helicopter, the esteemed representative from an impoverished district in Georgia, has just (allegedly) killed a wild pig in Texas. Making America Great (Again)

Still Trying to Escape from Freedom

I could sure use rejuvenation this morning. I don’t even want to write what I’m thinking about so I’ll go to Erich Fromm which is a stream of tedium in its own way, but kind of cool and enlightening.

Escape from Freedom is so dense that I can read about 5 pages before I’m going “Whoa. Overload.” Yesterday Fromm compared the new capitalist market economy of the 15th century with Calvinism. Who wouldn’t go “Whoa, dude, huh?”

“…the medieval market had been a relatively small one, the functioning of which was readily understood. It brought demand and supply into direct and concrete relation. A producer knew approximately how much to produce and could be relatively sure of selling his products for a proper price. Now it was necessary to produce for an increasingly large market, and one could not determine the possibilities of sale in advance.”

Here’s the kicker, “It was therefore not enough to produce useful goods. Although this was the one condition for selling them, the unpredictable laws of the market decided whether the products could be sold at all.

And here it gets weird, “The mechanism of the new market seemed to resemble the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, which taught that the individual must make every effort to be good, but that even before his birth it had been decided whether or not he is to be saved. The market day became the day of judgment for the products of human effort.”

Fromm is on the brink of his counter argument — which is that capitalism freed the individual and he offers up the usual cant (or so it seems to me). Any of us could write this, but, “…capitalism…freed man from the regimentation of the corporative system; it allowed him to stand on his own feet and to try his luck. He became the master of his fate, his was the risk, his the gain. Individual effort could lead him to success and economic independence. Money became the great equalizer of man and proved to be more powerful than birth or caste.”

To me the words “success” and “freedom” are red flags. Success? What is that? Ultimately (and will Fromm go here? I don’t know) it seems to me that each person must finally determine for him/herself whether their life has been/is a success. The ultimate success, of course, is survival. Ask any animal and you get THAT answer. That is the great irony of sentient life, an irony the church attempts to address, an irony that some people attempt to reconcile through fame and, uh, success. Oh shit. And “freedom”?

Fromm closes the chapter with a long paragraph that begins with the clearest expression we have to the question of freedom; that it is ambiguous. “The individual is freed from the bondage of economic and political ties. He also gains in positive freedom by the active and independent role which he has to play in the new system. But, simultaneously he is freed from those ties which used to give him security and a feeling of belonging…The new freedom is bound to create a deep feeling of insecurity, powerlessness, doubt, aloneness, and anxiety. These feelings must be alleviated if the individual is to function successfully.”

How has that played out in our day? My first answer is “retail therapy” or, more generally, by acquiring things. I guess I’ll find out where Fromm goes, but it seems to me that is one way we free people exercise our positive freedom, freedom TO.

Meanwhile, in my little cottage industry, working on the notecard problem with some success. The black and white notecards, ink drawings, look much BETTER printed here than by a commercial company. Who knew?

Featured photo: Shriver/Wright Wildlife Area, September 28, 2019

“I Got to Go!!!”

For everyone who worried that Teddy was left out of my walk with Bear yesterday, this will reassure you that Teddy gets his turn. We headed out this afternoon — just us — and took a trail my dogs LOVE but which I don’t do during snake season, especially when I have both of them. I’ve yet to see a rattlesnake out there but I’ve seen too many in my life to think that just because I haven’t seen one, they’re not around.

As always, Teddy was very happy.

It was very beautiful as I will now attempt to prove.

Aspen on the mountains
Just a pretty scene.

The bees were VERY busy on all the Chamisa. It was fun trying to photograph them.

Bee here now…

I went out because, well, I have a friend trying to deal with some major problems in life and sometimes people in that situation can be assholes and take stuff out on the people who care about them..

Nature doesn’t have moods — we might project moods onto nature. This is not a mood going on in Florida right now. It’s a very dangerous hurricane. While these dramatic hurricanes might be exacerbated (if not caused by) by climate change (I believe they are) it doesn’t mean nature is “angry.” It means that please people I hope you are all in a safe place. That’s your job right now in the face of this thing that is bigger than you are.

For me, even going out in a blizzard clears my mind and returns me to the proper order of things. That said, I don’t go out in lighting storms. AND, 19 years ago, I ran from a fire. I understood that nature is “bigger” than me, and I very much wanted that next hike with my dogs. I remember looking over the mountains the day after we had evacuated and I had gone to a nearby town to stay in the park until I got word about where I could go. Above the mountains — which were more than 300 meters/1000 feet higher than the park — were flames and smoke. The fire was not ONLY coming up the other side, the flames were higher than the hills. We were fine where we were because of the wind direction, an absolutely bizarre reality. Even so, many people had headed east, into the desert to stay wherever they could on the other side of everything. It was a wise plan, but I didn’t want to do that. My plan was to go higher into the mountains. I had camping equipment and water and knew where I could camp for a steady supply of water from a good well. IF I had done that, the fire would have reached within 1/2 mile of me, but I would have been safe. And why? Because two years earlier a fire had come through there. There was little fuel. I knew that.

It wasn’t a great plan, but it had a couple of escape routes and would’ve been OK. I was pretty sure — it proved correct — that they would find a way to open Interstate 8 that day and they did. I was able to drive back down the mountain all the way to the beach where I had a friend who’d offered to let me and the dogs stay as long as we needed to. Early that evening, we loaded up and drove down between flaming mountains and arrived safely at my friend Sally’s house.

My love of nature is not particularly sentimental. I love the beauty, but I know that beauty is complicated and nature isn’t out there, “I feel pretty! O so pretty!” Nature won’t “betray” me, but I can, in nature, betray myself. That’s the danger. Not nature. Us.


Yesterday Bear and I fought our way out of the house (seriously, poor Teddy… No no, he’s fine. I just had to force him to stay behind by shutting the door) so just the two of us could have a quiet walk on a cloudy day. I really needed it, and I think my Bear did, too. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Wait, how can something be “more perfect?” It can’t. And that isn’t even true. Snow would have made it more perfect. OH well… That’s like “More best.”

We had an audience — some friendly crane tourists had come up from New Mexico and were making do with some ducks in an irrigation ditch. “What’re you seeing?” I asked.

“Ducks, mostly, mallards.” They had the gear, the cameras, long lenses, everything. They were READY. One couple even had a VW camper van (sigh dream on, Martha). They also had what some crane tourists don’t have — a sense of humor. “We saw some cranes, maybe 25,” the man gestured to a barley field to the southeast. I nodded. It’s important to see cranes. Every crane tourist wants to — well, almost every crane tourist. I’ve met a few people who were happy to see whatever they saw. Those are my kind of crane tourists. Of course, he wanted to know when they were usually here in the fall. They hadn’t come all that far — just from Taos, a couple hours away.

“They don’t come in that huge group in the fall. But, I’m no expert,” I said, “I’m just out here all the time.”

“That makes you an expert.”

“OK. Well, from where I stand as an expert, cranes do whatever they want whenever they want.”

“Nature, huh?” said the guy, grinning.

“Yeah. We’ve had a warm fall — it hasn’t even frosted yet — so…”

“You think they are affected by the weather?”

“It seems to me they are. In 2020 when we had that early snow, they were early. Well, have fun!!”


Bear and I continued our Bearigrination. It was such a pleasure walking in the cool breeze. While we didn’t see any cranes — this time of year I don’t think anyone can be out there without wanting to see them — I saw a Harris Hawk swooping low over the ground and a Red Tailed hawk hunting. Bear studied the ground with passion and feeling, liberated from the responsibility she has when Teddy goes along. When Teddy comes, she feels she needs to stay beside me.

There were many dead garter snakes along the road attesting to two things; one, they’d been dropped by birds. Two, they’d been run over by cars. I could kind of tell from the position of the corpse and it’s location on the road what had happened. I don’t want Bear being interested in them — dead or alive. They won’t hurt her, but…

Because of Bear’s attention and scrutiny to the edges of the road, I picked up a Red Tailed hawk feather and a soda (we say “pop” not “soda” in Colorado) can I might not have seen. It was beautiful, relaxing, soothing and just what I needed after my tussle with gravity on Monday. The aspen are rapidly turning up in the mountains. I couldn’t get a good photo without borrowing one of the cameras belonging to the crane tourists, but believe me, wow. The featured photo is from around Kenosha Pass and was taken by my friend Lois a few days ago.

More Escape from Freedom — this Time with a Bump on the Head; Rambling Post

Took a tumble yesterday, well, not a tumble, more like a splat, crash, curse, so now I’m typing with my hands but looking at the screen with a black eye, but I’m fine. The thing about falling is that people die that way, so it’s scary. I’ve always been a person who tended to fall — no idea why — but… Bear and Teddy were solicitous and concerned, though not too helpful. Elizabeth came over to check on me. It’s better today, less swollen and so on and so forth.

Persisting with Escape from Freedom — Fromm is getting interesting again. He characterizes the Middle Ages as a time when the powerful church taught that “economic interests are subordinate to the real business of life, which is salvation.” Fromm’s goal is to illustrate the “position of the individual in medieval society.” As I typed that — and this could be my head injury — he seems to be undermining one of his main arguments in the beginning of the book which is that history is made by individuals. OH well. “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...”

Fromm’s notion of freedom is tied to capitalism. I learn this on the next page. He characterizes Medieval society as “communists” in a very special sense — “Private property is a necessary institution, at lease in a fallen world; men work more and dispute less when goods are private than when they are common. But it is to be tolerated as a concession to human frailty, not applauded as desirable in itself; the ideal — if only man’s nature would rise to it — is communism. ‘Communis enim” wrote Gratian in his derectum, “usus omnium quad sun in hoc mondo omnibus hominibus ease debuit’.

No, I can’t read that either except “use” “world” “humans” and “every or all.” BUT Google Translate to the rescue: “For the common man,” wrote Gratian in his address, “the uses of all that are in this world ought to be made easy for all men.” That happens to be exactly what I believe.

The problem is that in the modern world, communism is more philosophical theory than reality and has been conflated with totalitarianism because it has been forced on people. Lao She, 20th century Chinese novelist, satirized this in his science fiction novel, Cat Country where he calls the system/philosophy “Everybody shareskyism.” The Chinese word for cat is “mao” so it isn’t very difficult to make the verbal leap to “Mao.” This book might have been one reason he was hounded to death by the Red Guard. Any system that’s forced upon a people is — IMO — wrong. But the idea of shared wealth and everyone having all their needs met? I’m still having problems seeing what’s wrong with that. It seems the best for everyone. In my “village” co-ops do better than most other business models. Maybe — as Fromm seems to be thinking — it’s a village v. urban thing.

Fromm identifies Renaissance — and Post Reformation — societies as “capitalist.” Before that, the church — religion, the desire for salvation — mandated the relationship of a person to his wealth. Fromm quotes and paraphrases the historian, R. H. Tawney, whom I do not know. Looking him up, I find a pretty interesting guy.

Richard Henry Tawney (30 November 1880 – 16 January 1962) was an English economic historian, social critic, ethical socialis, Christian Socialist, and important proponent of adult education. The Oxford Companion to British History (1997) explained that Tawney made a “significant impact” in all four of these “interrelated roles”. (Wikipedia)

Anyhoo — when I left Fromm yesterday it was with this amazing idea that I might love — that the end of the medieval system threatened the sense of belonging and threw a heavier burden on individual identity. This led people to the pursuit of fame, of immortality in a different sense than that offered by the church. “This underlying insecurity resulting from the position of an isolated individual in a hostile world tends to explain the genesis of a character trait which was, as *Burckhardt has pointed out, a characteristic of the individual of the Renaissance and not present at least in the same intensity, in the member of the medieval social structure: his passionate craving for fame. If the meaning of life has become doubtful, if one’s relations to others and to ones self to don’t offer security, then fame is one means to silence one’s doubts…” And enter stage RIGHT the swashbuckling tyrant or the entrepreneur — or both.

Whoa… Later in the day I read this in the news:

CNN — 

Ask most politicians why they run for president and you are likely to get an answer that sounds something like, “I wanted to do the most good for the most people as possible,” or something similar.

Donald Trump is not most politicians.

Trump, in an interview with the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman for her forthcoming book, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America,” revealed the “why” behind his past and (likely) future bids for the nation’s highest office.

“The question I get asked more than any other question: ‘If you had it to do again, would you have done it?’” Trump told Haberman. “The answer is, yeah, I think so. Because here’s the way I look at it. I have so many rich friends and nobody knows who they are.”

OK. So, just to be crystal clear here – Trump is saying that if he had it to do all over, he would run for president again because it made him more famous. That the key motivation for him to run for president was to be well-known – and it worked.

Lots of stuff in this book and it’s a little overwhelming. It reminds me how a college class is a short-cut to a lot of things that when you try to delve into it by yourself, it’s complex and takes time.

*”Who is this Burckhardt guy?” you may be asking as I have been asking. Well, “Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt (25 May 1818 – 8 August 1897) was a Swiss historian of art and culture and an influential figure in the historiography of both fields. He is known as one of the major progenitors of cultural history. (Wikipedia)


A big challenge for an artist like me is money framing a painting. I have another big painting on a panel that needs a frame. It’s not just for the hanging or aesthetics that the painting needs a frame; panels are a little fragile in the corners and a frame protects them. I thought of a GoFundMe for $100 and then laughed at myself. It’ll happen. I just don’t know when.

I’ve also stopped the note card business except direct orders. It’s a gamble at this point to order them printed professionally when THOSE costs have gone up a lot. I have found a way to print them myself — and the quality of the printed image is excellent, every bit as good as Vistaprint. Still, with postage going up so much, I imagine people will be sending less mail — may already be sending less mail.

I experimented with the Rainbow Girls in Wheatland Wyoming (aka The Three Graces) and that came out beautifully. I’m going to have to refine this for landscapes, but I’m optimistic.

I’m not whining. I have an income, few needs and the ability to choose (to some extent). The way I see it, after the past several years of craziness things are naturally going to be fucked up. Like other “bad” times in my life I figure my job is just to hold on. It’s worked OK in the past. I’m just really happy I bought my house when interest rates were so low and refinanced it when they went lower. Meanwhile, I live in a beautiful place, have friends and the opportunity to simplify my life to ride this out. It’s comforting and not comforting to know we’re all in the same boat. I’m a little worried by the recent election in Italy, but, as I’m learning from Fromm, people turn to authoritarianism when they’re scared and have lost faith. Maybe he wouldn’t put it that way, but it seems to me that’s what it boils down to.

One thing that’s doing VERY well are the Scarlet Emperor Beans of song and story. With 23 plants, you’d expect SOMETHING to happen and it has. Several things. One I’ve learned is how much they like living in a close neighborhood. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you plant them directly 1 or 3 inches deep ; they’re going to come up and do just as well as the ones you’ve nursed into being in the house. I’ve learned they are just very very happy to be alive, and while they “like” my attention, they prefer it ensconced in their language which is sunlight, heat and water, all leading to a chorus of “Thank you, Martha!”

I’m no Felix Mendel, but these all came from one packet of five seeds. The first year I planted one. I harvested seeds from it and, the next year, combined the seeds from that plant with those I had remaining from the packet and planted three. The next year I planted four. Then six. Then and then… They are all related to each other. I wonder if they’ve naturally selected in some way to do well in my small garden plot. This isn’t their native land by any stretch, though the altitude is. “This species originated from the mountains of Central America. It was most likely cultivated in the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala around 2000 BC.” And more.. Eat the Weeds

The Scarlet Runner Bean has also been called …Aycoctl by the Aztecs, and Ayocote by the Spanish. It’s native to Central America and has escaped cultivation in many areas. This bean is still on the home kitchen menu in its original range but the rest of the world grows it as an ornamental. Lots of folks also use it as a nectar attraction for hummingbirds and butterflies. Historically, Scarlet Runner Bean was in English and early American gardens by the 1600s.

There are some dozen and a half cultivars now. (Cultivars are made by man, varieties are made by nature.) The Dutch Phaseolus coccineus v. alba has white flowers. The “Butler” is stringless, “Painted Lady” has red and white flowers, the “Kelvedon Wonder” is an early variety with long pods, “Sunset” has pink flowers, and the “Scarlet Emperor” …has scarlet flowers. Under right conditions the Scarlet Runner Bean is the most productive of all the planted beans.

Various red runner beans…

I think next year I’m going to try a new system because this year’s system – with all those plants – wasn’t great. It wasn’t even a “system.” It was kind of “Oh shit, what do I do now?” My past methods didn’t work with so many plants. Then, because most of the light is at the top of 8 to 10 foot plants, they got top heavy. Reaching for the sun, a couple almost fell over. I guess I have a few months to research wires/netting etc. Anyway, out of this strange summer, that began with my not even wanting to mess with a garden, I have learned a lesson. Mess with the garden. It might be the best part of the whole show.