Early bowling scene
I came across this remarkable image today: a man and a woman engaged in a game of bowling, passionately judging from their gestures. The image is from a book of Psalms (a Psalter) and was probably made in the Southern Low Countries (nowadays Belgium). It seems surprising to find this merry scene in a devout book used for private devotion, but Psalters are often filled with marginalia that feature entertaining scenes. This leaf, the only one that survives from the original book, was found discarded behind a shelf. It is the first time I encounter a medieval couple bowling. In fact, it must be one of the earliest depictions of this sport.
Pic: London, British Library, Harley 7640, made c. 1300 (more here).
The smallrus is tiniest of the seal family, not much larger (and rather similiar in shape) to the garden slug. They prefer damp areas with large amounts of water, like well-watered gardens with fish ponds, and can often be seen sporting in puddles and bird baths, making their typical call (a sort of squeaky bellow.*) Any gardener is generally delighted to see the smallrus appear, as the occasional nibble of a leaf is more than made up for by their ability to keep down the number of mosquito larvae and other small aquatic nuisances.
This is so my ex-husband’s fault.
One day he was wandering around singing “I am the smallrus!”
"How big is a smallrus?" I asked.
"Very, very tiny."
"They’re bred as sock warmers. You can put your socks on the smallri to keep warm."
And just when I was thinking that I had misjudged this man for ten whole years, that he was capable of great depths of adorableness, that his capacity for cuteness was far beyond anything I’d guessed, and he’d merely been hiding it behind a facade of mild pervesion and non-sequitor—
"And they’re great with honey-mustard sauce!"
As my friend Kathy said, “He is capable of great flights of whimsy, you just can’t listen all the way to the end.” -Ursula Vernon
*Inhale a good lungful of helium and yell “GRONK!” and you’ve about got it.