Saturday, December 10, 2011

December Light

A brush of a small, warm and furry body against my leg in the cold afternoon ~ come, 
he says, come to the green wood and remember. So we step gently onto the mossy 
path, pausing often more than we walk, feeling and sensing, more in body than 
thought. I need this, and I wonder what it is for him. Sitting on the log bench, I 
watch him settle onto the stone under the small hemlock, our usual spots. We sit in silence, two beings who have been together for fifteen years, he and I, cat and 
person. The way we are in silence together is a treasured meeting of souls. 

In the forest, we have entered another realm, but do not mistake it only for a 
gentle place of peace and silence, for you'll have missed its power. We find our 
freedom here, the raw beauty of a place mostly left alone by humans. We are 
sharply aware of each sound and movement - and he of each smell - it would be 
risky not to be. It is quiet, but not silent, and the peace I feel comes from 
touching the edge of wildness, not from escaping. I am a visitor, and most of 
what lives here has slowly slipped into the shadows, and watches. Soft wind blows 
through high hemlock boughs, a distant raven calls, a gathering of chickadees 
flits about nearby.  

In the more cultivated clearing, an early mornings frost edges the thyme like a
coating of sugar. I wander to see simple forms transformed and dipped in golden 

December seems filtered through a veil of white light by afternoon. Even a 
bright blue sky feels cold against the bare branching of the oak. From the front 
steps of the house, I glimpse the little cottage through the trees.  

I walk to the studio, and watch as the light fades behind the snow-dusted trees.
Settled into the forest now, the cottage seems sure of itself, awaiting the final 
details and finding its form. I imagine the souls of all the trees that were taken, 
coming together to find one song.  

On a very cold evening, I ventured down the hill to sing carols and go for a wagon
ride. As we stood awaiting our ride, I couldn't help but be inspired by the steaming 
horses and flickering lights. 

Something in the image below looks to me like a still from an old movie. I imagined
a cobbled street in England or a desolate outpost in the American west, tumbleweeds 
blowing down the street and guns hanging from holsters. 

Steam rising from horse silhouettes and bright spotlights to guide the wagon 
resulted in an image that might be mistaken for a sunset over a mountain ridge. 

I found myself writing to you in my head the last two weeks, awaiting the moment 
when life slowed enough to actually post something. Alas, what came in the moment 
is nothing like what I imagined. While raking leaves and cutting plant stalks I thought 
to tell you of the scent of chocolate mint and how much I love it, and to share with 
you the sound of dry baptisia pods - black and empty - clacking in the wind, and to 
tell you of awaking in the night to listen to the coyotes singing somewhere close by in  
in the dark and creaking forest.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Short Days of Rust & Brown

 I leave school at the end of the day as the light is fading,  
a good audio book in the cd player and astonishing skies 
that might someday find themselves the inspiration for  

My wee cottage is finding its form steadily week by week. Each day the crew 
is here, I am amazed at how much is accomplished. Monday the windows and
 much of the siding was installed, and Tuesday most of the rest of the siding. 

I am beginning to feel what the interior will be like, and when the crew 
isn't around, I climb up the ladder to wander inside and imagine.

Most of the siding is on this south side now (below), and I love the burgundy 
roof. Its a tad more subtle than the red roof on the house: a complex color that 
is hard to pin down. I like that. 

Short November days of rust and brown are here, as are the hunters. Many creatures 
are on the run, searching for food and fleeing. Yesterday, I heard a gunshot nearby, 
and three does sped across the road in front of me. A buck that was traveling near 
them hesitated before slipping back into the trees. 

Last week a small bear crossed the road right in front of the car. I sat admiring the 
thick, inky fur and strong, rooted body as she lumbered by. Soon she will be heading 
into the earth for many months. I've read that many moons ago, some of the old ones native to this land did much the same. Some say that they didn't store up food as once thought, but let the snows cover the lodges, and survived on roots and melted snow
or almost nothing at all save the sweet murmurings of the dreaming earth and the 
warmth from the fire. 

Only when the bear had made her way across the field did I remember that my 
camera was right next to me. She politely paused at a little birch tree to stare back 
at me before dashing off to the cover of pines. 

Most of the animals around my forest are wild, except for Pasha cat, 
but there are plenty of farm critters close by. I did a little goat care for 
my friend, Boo, who's wonderful Stonebridge Farm is a great place to come stay if 
you're passing through. One of the goats peeks over the stall door as I'm about to 
toss in the hay. 

I took a morning walk to check on her Norwegian Fjords, 
and found them grazing in the far pasture. I love their 
multi colored manes and strong form. 

Much of my time away from school is focussed on tasks related to the studio 
project, and lots of looking. The camera helps with that, I often see 
details in the photograph that I missed with the naked eye.  
Here I am merged with a tree - or maybe my true silhouette 
can only be seen in my shadow....

That photo reminded me of this:

This photo, 

of this:

 Decaying milkweed pods and what's left of a tomatillo husk 
took me to ground to marvel at light and shadow and textures. 

The biggest accomplishment of late is the shrinking pile of wood.
It is now ALL neatly stacked in the shed - four cords - which is sort of 
a lot to stack alone. If you look closely below, you'll see a 
luna moth on the corner of the shed (July photo of the pile).  

Tomorrow I head off to spend Thanksgiving with family. There is 
a list as long as my life of things I am grateful for, so I will say only 
that I am grateful for everything - even for the hard things, for they shape 
me in ways I never expect and help to smooth out my rough edges. 
If you've been following my blog for a while, you might recall that  
my niece's 31 year old husband died suddenly last Thanksgiving, so 
this year we will be with that - with her - for she is, 
of course, 
with that 
every single moment.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Spiral Dance of Seasons

Autumn and winter danced in a spiral in and out and back again. Amber jeweled
beech leaves hung from branches, but winter could not wait and flung October 
aside for a spell. I grieved the end of the orange days, for the forest is a magical 
cathedral when the rusty beeches take center stage. Two feet of snow fell the day 
before Samhain, and we in the higher elevations were the lucky ones for a change 
with lots of dry snow and not many power outages. 

Then all of a sudden spring came, with temperatures in the 60's, and the 
amber orange beeches reclaimed their moment with a vibrant glare at winter. 

Inside, warm-toned wood and walls and collections echoed 
the forest's celebration, and I wandered, noticing. 

The green mantle of mosses sparkled, and Pasha and I enjoyed sitting 
in the unusual warmth and bright sunshine. 

One morning, on my early morning journey to school, I had to work at 
keeping on as a magical mist hung in the valleys.  

Having fretted just a tad with a forest full of snow, the speedy spring-like melt was  
welcome and a cottage has sprouted in the clearing. Soon, but not soon enough for 
me, a roof and windows and doors and all the rest will be in place. I'm very much
looking forward to the break between semesters, for there are shelves and tables 
to be built and enchantments to be conjured and much, much gratitude to be stirred 
into paint buckets and sung into the wood of this new place.