International Women’s Day

[I meant to post this on time, but didn’t make it.]
Today, on International Women’s Day, my mother is traveling to Suriname. She is going to retrace a bit of history and follow in the steps of a rather interesting woman who did many things that “women didn’t do” back then…

map showing the location of Suriname

Several years back, when I was taking a Women’s History class at University, my professor mentioned a woman who had invented some kind of printing press technology. At the time, I was taking a printing (press) class, as well, and was surprised to hear any mention of a woman who’d invented something during the Middle Ages. Since I have a reading problem, I gave my mother the little info I had and suggested she write a book about her. I don’t think she was particularly interested at first, but somewhere along the line she actually did a little research herself and was hooked.

Maria Sybilla Merian was a pioneer in science. During her time, people thought that insects just sort of magically appeared (or were sent from the devil), and that you could “grow” mice from dirty clothes and food. Maria became fascinated by insects and did detailed studies of them. She discovered that bugs were linked to particular plants (and would die if not able to eat whatever type of plants they needed). She illustrated the full life-cycle of insects. She was very famous in her day, and yet now she is not well known. The United States Postal Service did issue some stamps with some of her botanical drawings, but she is not really presented as a scientist.

Anyway, at a time when women did not really get to move around on their own, she went with her daughter to Suriname to study and collect specimens. My mother did research in Europe, but has been working on getting to Suriname to finish the last part of her story. Now she is there, and we are all looking forward to learning what her experience is like and seeing the finished book! (^_^)

So here is to my mother, nearly 72 years old, adventuring alone in Suriname, but with the backing of many friends and family. I love you Mom!

the author's mother, ziplining on her 70th birthday

The author's mother, ziplining on her 70th birthday. She enjoyed it so much it has become a birthday tradition.


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