I’ll return to more Berks blogging soon, but this was too good not to pass on: a colleague of mine is reading and translating an Arabic volume of letters and other writings by Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb, the man who went on to write America as I Have Known It, and to become one of the intellectual fathers of contemporary radical Islam. He recently sent along this quotation: “And this is the small city of Greeley in which I’m now staying. Indeed, it is beautiful, beautiful, giving the impression of a germinating plant in a dreamy garden. Every house is like a shoot in a field, and each street is a path to a garden,” quoted in Salah ‘Abd al-Fatah al-Khalidi, Amrika min al-Dakhil bi Nizar Sayyid Qutb (Jidda: 1986), 60-1.
NPR did an in-depth exploration of the history of Greeley as a utopian temperence colony, and of Qutb’s stay in Greeley in the 1940s, (recording available here) where he studied at Colorado State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Colorado. Regular readers know that Greeley is referred to as “Potterville” at Historiann.com.) It may have been here in Greeley that Qutb became convinced that Americans were shallow, materialistic, sexually immoral, and spiritually impoverished. For those who knew Greeley in the 1940s–or even for those who know the town today–this comes as something of a surprise! (Well, at least the sexually immoral part. It’s not all bad: you can get a lot of work done and save a lot of money living in boring small-town America.)
I must say that landscaping and watering the high plains desert until it looks like southeastern Pennsylvania is troubling from a sustainability perspective, but it gets some pretty good results. Qutb would be impressed! Here are some photos from my garden on Tuesday afternoon–poppies and bachelor buttons on top, roses and more roses in the second and fourth photos, and snapdragons and yarrow in the third photo. The roses are really abundant this year–and, unlike roses anywhere else in the world, they’re a no-maintenance garden standby here. Just cut them back in late winter or early spring, feed them bone and blood meal 2-3 times, and admire the view. (And yes, that’s Creepy Doll Head below, on a stake, standing guard over my herb garden with roses as a backdrop!)