Thursday, January 6, 2011

Slowing, Rooting & Winter Work

"Root Woman", mixed media

Outside, occasional snowflakes glide to 
the earth, as a small crescent moon waxes with 
the new year. Inside, I sit by the fire, appreciative 
of the trees who gave their lives so that I may be warm. 
Deeper inside, I sink to my roots, slowing to the speed 
of tree and stone, listening to stories of 
the winter forest.

I had other plans this week - plans to make art, 
to winterize the studio, to finally complete the 
last few tasks on my list. But a borrowed heater was 
too small, a fuse blew because I plugged in two heaters, 
and the mis-marked fuse panel gave me the gift of 
time to reflect on what was really 
necessary right now... 

I have a gift of slowing, a few more weeks until 
classes begin. I need to dream. I am dreaming. 
Not sleep-dreaming.... I am soul dreaming.
And it is absolutely a necessary ingredient in 
my creative life. I am filling up with visual 
stories, listening, finding deep presence in 
a moment. I remember myself. I feel 
the slowed heartbeats of the bears
in their dens, beating close to 
the rhythms of the earth. 

At the end of the day, I sit outside with Pasha, 
who has begged for one more outing to watch 
the dipping of the sun. It is cold. We watch 
the sky and listen to a fox bark getting closer.

She dashes past, not expecting to see us sitting 
along her usual trail.

It is good to watch and listen with Pasha. He knows how 
to be slow, and watchful, and patient. We share 
an intimate silence as the sky shifts 
towards evening. 

Yesterday, we cleared some trees in preparation to 
build the new studioNext winter the wood will 
heat the building, keeping me warm as I 
tell stories in paint and spin tales by the fire. 

Shelby and Tim, friends and talented woodsmen 
cleared the land and split piles and piles of wood. 

They made a pile of wood from diseased beech trees 
dry enough to be burned this season. I spent the morning
stacking it in my shed and feeling like a happy squirrel
with a nest full of nuts. I never quite know if I'll have 
enough wood to get me through the season, so to 
re-stock in January is a wonderful feeling.

Later in the day I visited a friend's hill-top farm, 
and stayed out too long in the cold admiring 
the trees silhouetted against a yellow-orange sky. 
Later by her fire, we chatted about our days 
working with trees. She had spent the day
splitting a huge, ancient maple that had come 
down in an ice storm and hauling it 
out of the woods. 

On days of winter work and slow listening, I find 
myself wondering what a different world we might
live in if everyone remembered the language of trees,  
and practiced the art of soul-dreaming.  


steven said...

i love the stories the old trees have to share. i love the stories inside the wood of the fallen trees. this is a beautiful post valerianna. steven

summertime dreams said...

reminds me of a book i read.....

Unknown said...

mmmmm... I feel so much calmer now. thank you, V, for this reminder of the value of rest, which i tend to discount entirely. what a glorious sunset - beautifully caught in your photos.

kd said...

What a beautiful post - love the thoughts and the pictures and especially the quick red fox and the slow quiet Pasha. Thankyou!

Valerianna said...

steven - your comment reminded me that I found a beautiful heart-shaped piece of wood from one of the trees cut yesterday. I forgot to post it. Its definitely a "story inside the wood of fallen trees".

summertime dreams - thanks, I'll take a look!

susan - glad to remind you of rest, I'd been so needing rest and retreat, I'm even on a news fast.

kd - seems you were here while I was at your blog... funny! The fox photo is a tad blurry, but she didn;t stop to pose!

A mermaid in the attic said...

Beautiful post Valerianna, I think I am needing some soul-dreaming time, but in summer here I always feel as if my 'antennae' are not functioning properly, I feel my senses are dulled and half-asleep. And we have school holidays and I'm working so not much time to just 'be'. I look forward to quiet time in winter to dream, when I feel switched on and alive to things much more. Your 'Root Woman' is beautiful and powerful...she has such stories in her!

renilde said...

Beautiful, living in a forest, amongst trees must be special.You get the opportunity to really understand what trees are. As someone living close to the sea or in the mountains is able to get to know sea or mountains.
And soul-dreaming, yes I soul-dream, it's one of the nicest ways to keep balanced, it's refreshing and energizing.
Great photos

Rowan said...

What a beautiful serene post, it's snowing again here and I'm on my own for a few days so I too have time and space for some soul dreaming.

Penny Berens said...

Your beautiful posts always gently touch chords in my heart. So much to respond to....but what is on my mind is how brightly shone that slither of a crescent moon in the darkening skies last night. I am still absorbing or perhaps you have me soul dreaming this early in the morning.

ramona said...

Everything that Susan said. I feel like I've been given a big warm hug by a sister that knows me so well. Thank you!
From fireplaces in the past I know the giddy feeling of the reassurance of having an abundance of wood to burn. Happy soul dreaming.xo

Aaron-Paul said...

I love root woman, what a great concept, what amazing woodland folk you could create , has she a face of clay?

RPLancaster said...

Lovely, lovely. I envy you living so close to the woods.
Root woman is wonder!

Manya Maratou said...

meandering roots, branches, women, thoughts, foxes..great
have a joyful new year!

Medieval Muse said...

What an absolutely beautiful post - the images, your words and reflection for this quiet time of year. Your little fox friend is a great gift and of course your feline companion is most precious.

Love your root woman!

Valerianna said...

mermaid - summers are the same for me.... I feel pulled out and running... winter is soooo slow and internal for me, IF I can honor that in my life, then I;m good....

renilde - luckily I've had the opportunity to live on a mountain near the sea, got to know both those places well. So very different from the forest..... a much more internal, mysterious place.

Rowan - hope you are enjoying your soul-dreaming!

Penny - oh that moon WAS something beautiful! I had a hard time coming inside, even though I was turning into an icicle!

ramona - warm hug sent out across the miles... I like that.

Aaron-Paul - yes, root woman's face is made of self-hardening clay, glued when wet to the wood. I'v had great success with this method.
I do have a collection of these woodland creatures. check out the post in April, 2010 called "Out of the forest and into the gallery to grandmother's house we go"

Paulette- a little clearing in the woods... I love it, but in the season of sunflowers, I suffer from tall towering sunflower envy!

Manya- thanks, same to you!

Medieval Muse - Pasha woke me up early the next morning, sitting in rapt attention at the window. I peered out to see the fox again, standing in attention on the hill. Just before light, it was sweet.

mairedodd said...

very very beautiful... i love how you share your connectedness to the natural world... so necessary in these times where by many nature is viewed as an enemy that holds back progress... thank you for the gift...

Jasmine said...

I love root woman. Soul dreaming feels so apt in this season. Nature instinctively has her happenings busily going on below the ground and out of sight. Like soul dreaming deep within. I am envious of your wood pile. I'm dreaming of planting many willow in my garden these next weeks to feed my own woodpile, crafting stores and habitat for wildlife. May even get a tunnel or yurt out of them at some point :) x

chicory cottage said...

Winter definitely tries to slow us down or tell us to slow down and look more reflectively the Moon picture; i'm a lunaphile and take pictures each month of at least the full Moon

Tammie Lee said...

soul dreaming - a lovely title
your life sounds and looks wonderful, quiet, wintry. so nice to have more wood for warmth.
wishing you dreams that inspire.

Velma Bolyard said...

i like working with wood, not the splitting anymore, but the moving around of potential heat. i like knowing old trees, and when they die, i like burning their wood. and i so like the idea of your new space, a clearing now, a future.

Sally J Smith, Environmental Artist said...

I smile reading your lovely post. Our worlds are so similar. An unexpected load of dry Beech arrived at my door last Friday and I too relished the squirreliness of stacking the bonus heat stored in the bones of the Beech. Later, cooking tomato soup on the woodstove fired with some of that Beech, I marveled at how the Sun was stored in the wood and the rain was stored in the tomatoes and both were coming out now, transformed... and soon would be again as I took in the warm soup into my own bones. And taking one more step on that journey, eventually, my bones will be returned to this earth, this unending cycle... but hopefully not till I make a few more pieces of work! Love your blog, am signing up!

Jo Potter said...

Magical post as always Vallerianna!
I also love 'Root Woman', she is a powerful sculpture and very much alive!
Your beautiful woodland surroundings makes me wish I could visit you and Pasha. I think Zigsa would like Pasha and they would have lots of fun playing in the trees.

The snow has now melted away here, but we are due some more soon. I have just put another log on the fire. You stay warm this winter. Enjoy gazing into the fire flames and dream. :-)
Have a lovely week!

Lynn said...

Thank you for a beautiful, thought provoking, and soul calming post. There is so much to be learned from the trees - if only we learn to remember how to listen and how to soul-dream, as you so wonderfully put it. Your root woman is delightful.

Ruthie Redden said...

I am so glad to hear that you are taking some rest time, things do happen for a reason dont they! I love your description, soul dreaming, perfect & so very important to stop & listen, it is a thing i only lately learnt to do, now i wish everyone could manage it, waht a difference it would make. How exciting to see the first steps towards your new studio, its going to be wonderful. Enjoy your dreaming x x

rivergardenstudio said...

I am loving your words of slow listening and soul dreamin during this break in your busy schedule. Thank you for sharing moments of your beautiful world here... It is a soft, misty and cold day here by the river. roxanne

Hope Adela Pasztor said...

i love all these magical outdoor shots! your work reminds me of brian froud =)

Danielle Barlow said...

To live in the woods as you do must give you such a strong connection to the earth. It looks wonderful, (though I am sure it is tough at times). I find it hard to keep the connection - it is so easy to turn away towards our busy lives and lose that knack of listening.

Valerianna said...

Hi everyone - I guess I'm not so good anymore at answering everyone's comments individually. I started out doing that here, but, alas have let your lovely responses pile up. So thanks to everyone who pops in and writes, and know that I read every single one with appreciation, whether or not I get back to you personally!