The front window


“Mrs. Herman Perry in her home at Mansfield, Iron County, Michigan,” May 1937, by Russell Lee, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Look through the net curtains at her tomato plants in tin cans. I wonder if she really waited until the average last frost date* for zone 18 — which is currently between July 1 and 10 — to put them in the ground.

Lee took the photo on assignment for the U.S. Farm Security Administration. Mrs. Perry was “the wife of an oldtime iron miner who worked in the mines before they were abandoned.”


*The average first frost date is between September 1 and 10.

The winter garden: red cactus

Red Cactus, Preus Museum on flickrRød kaktus,” between late 19th c. and 1933, by Inga Breder, via Preus Museum Commons on flickr.

The small Schlumbergera genus of plants is native to the coastal mountains  of southeast Brazil.  By 1860, a number of its cultivars were being sold in England for indoor winter color.

Today, they are commonly called Christmas cactus — or Cacto de Navidad (Spanish), Cactus de Noël (French), and Weihnachtskaktus (German).

The photographer, Inga Breder, was born in Bodø, Norway, in 1855. As an adult she lived in Oslo and became an amateur photographer, competing in and judging competitions.

Merry Christmas!