Friday, December 31, 2010

A Winter Walk

In the fading light of afternoon, 
we head out for a wander in the forest. 
The first heavy snow fell over the weekend, 
which means I break trail for Pasha.

Up and down the trees he goes.

Wild-eyed and grateful for sharp claws and rough bark, 
and the chance to run trails in the deep wood. 

We pass the tracks of the large, male fisher
reminding us of how wild this forest is.  
The tracks are relatively fresh, and I notice
an immediate shift in Pasha - and in myself. 
We are both aware of just how dangerous 
an encounter with the fisher would be for him. 

Life eats life, and so it is. The wild beauty here 
reminds me daily of this. 

Long shadows through a young, wispy hemlock.

I glimpse the house through the 
trees and pretend I've traveled far through  
the enchanted forest. I'm sure that
an old, bent woman will greet me 
at the door - wide eyed 
and crooked toothed -
and tell me she 
has been expecting me.  

Instead of the old woman, we notice 
that the fisher has visited sometime not so long ago. 
He wandered around very close to the house
writing beautifully in the snow. Probably he passes 
through a lot, but the snow reveals his travels, 
and the reason that Pasha seems on such high alert today. 

The front stoop dressed up for Yule.

I tuck Pasha safe inside and head out 
to view the sunset.  

Coming home to a warm glow, but still no old woman... 
well, of course, someday the old woman will be me!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Shamans & Solstice Circle

The fading light on the longest night 
brought golden clouds and brisk wind. 
I loaded wood on the cart and 
wheeled it to the fire pit in 
a clearing in the hemlocks. 

A handful of hardy souls gathered around 
the Solstice Fire to celebrate the sun's 
re-birth. The silent and silvery moon
 rose to watch our revelry, dancing 
with the clouds as we danced with 
the fire. With boughs of spruce 
and fir we swept the year clean, 
'round and 'round the circle
sweeping and blessing 
each other, 
and the land. 

This morning, Pasha and I gathered the left over kindling 
to light our morning fire and bring the blessings of 
the circle into the house. 

Inside, my tree is the Shaman World Tree.
With owls and angels up high, 

and a skiing Santa Shaman who looks to me like a Sami 
from the arctic circle in Norway. In his bag he carries
the magic that makes reindeer fly.

Another of my favorites is the Santa who stands with 
arms outstretched for several weeks offering himself
to the wee critters who come to my tree to be a 
part of the story. 

There's also a sweet, sledding faery who lights her 
way with a lantern,

and a mighty king who surveys the kingdom, 
wandering the forest from Solstice 'til New Year's. 
(actually, its a Queendom, but I don't tell him)

The Solstice table, ready to welcome
moon cakes and mulled cider and 
cold-toed revelers, is guarded 
by the White Reindeer and 
his friend, the Santa Shaman 
who shelters critters in his 

And possibly my favorite of all, with his 
Stag Staff and oak leaf bordered robe, 
dances in spirals around his fire
in the center of the table, 
banging his staff 
loudly to make 
sure he's got the 
attention of the 

Through this most lively of celebrations, 
Pasha manages to dream other stories
by the heat of the wood stove, 
on his little sheepskin rug.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stories in the Snow

"Old One", drawing on 8x8" scratchbord panel

Thank you all for your heartfelt words on my last post, 
I was truly comforted by your support and well wishes.
As the days melt one into the other, we find our 
feet on the path of healing, feeling the strength 
of our family and the warm embraces of 
those near and far. 

I have been working on more tree drawings, 
 the obsessive mark-making a meditation in the fading 
winter light. I think the one above is my favorite so far, 
finished last night sitting close to the wood stove 
listening to an audio book of ancient days of 
road wandering and storytelling in England. 

"Mystery Tree", drawing on 4x4" scratchbord panel

A frozen world surrounds me, with a sweet dusting of 
snow, a blank parchment recording the travels
of the forest creatures. Below, the tracks of the fox, 
just outside the door, where many an encounter 
was had between fox and Pasha cat last spring.

Grandmother Winter's dark cloak hides the daylight early
away, yet the frozen jewels she spreads beneath her
reveal that silent ones have slipped past. I love this time
of year, able to read the traveling stories of the often  
invisible woodland wanderers.

Below, a collection of images from the last day 
of school. Student work from my class, Exploring the Natural World,
and the last photo, a collection of books projects from 
2D Design & Color. I hope you enjoy them as much as I!
(Click to enlarge)

Mixed-media - map cutout and collage by Sarah P. who 
shares my love of winter trees. 

A very large chalk pastel drawing - 20"x50" or so, 
by another Sarah.... lovely light!

A 3-d illustration of a poem by Riley, 
with detail below. 

Watercolor and color pencil drawings by Miriam.
Watercolor and pen & ink drawing by Justine below.

Atmospheric imaginary landscape by Jess, and 
"Animal Houses", by Austin below.

Mixed-media collage - lovely landscape by Kate, and
below, a collection of design books, and a peek at 
the studio at school where I teach. 

Alas, it is time to wrap myself in wool, down and fleece 
and venture out to bring in wood, fill bird feeders, and 
walk a bit to collect kindling. Pasha has been in 
and out many times already, for the temperature 
was only 12 degrees last I looked. I wonder if 
he'll join me on my chores to write our 
wandering stories in the snow? 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Deep Peace/Quiet Earth

Last week we buried my 
niece's thirty one year old husband. 
Today, I watch the last of the leaves 
clinging to the oak tree, one 
sails off, gliding this way and that, 
on the slow descent to the quiet, 
frozen earth. 

I've been avoiding this post, 
wondering if I would share, 
but knowing I wanted to - 
to tell you why I haven't responded to all 
your wonderful comments on the last post. 
For I, too, am hanging on a tiny thread, 
like the faded oak leaf, 
seeing the dark, 
still earth beneath my feet. 

Spiral stone drawings.
A praying angel. 
Dark trunks 
and rhythmic branches. 

A setting sun.

At the cemetery I sang the 
ancient Celtic Deep Peace prayer
I was trembling, 
again the oak leaf, 
 holding by a thread 
to a moment.
But it was 
to sing 
Deep Peace 
of the Quiet Earth to you, 
over and over and over. 

I've been thinking, 
that if trauma doesn't crack you up,
it cracks you open.
As I sit in heart-wrenching witness of 
my beloved niece, 
I feel how deeply I love, 
and gratitude washes over me, 
in finding this sacred gift, 
and in feeling  
the peace of the 
quiet earth 
holding me.