We may all agree that old age is not for the faint of heart and indeed it springs a few unpleasant surprises at times. However, one of the good things about getting older is that when something piques your curiosity, you can turn to your younger computer-literate friends and ask for help in solving this problem.
Thus, I discovered the story behind one of the new U.S. postage stamps: a lovely white flower on a black background with a man's name hidden in very small print that only an eagle-eyed person could decipher. After a magnifying glass helped me discover the name Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904), I was still in the dark. Was he a painter, a gardener or perhaps a very nice man who was good to his mother? He could have been all those things but it turns out he was an American artist, naturalist and poet.
During the 19th century, Heade became known for his landscapes and still lifes of Brazilian hummingbirds and orchids. In 1883, he moved to Florida and became obsessed with the giant magnolia. In fact, this flower became the chief theme of his later still lifes. The picture on the postage stamp is titled "Giant Magnolias on Blue Velvet Cloth." He obviously spent more energy painting than creating catchy titles. The original painting can be seen in all its glory at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.