Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shimmering Raindrops

There are days here that pull me into profound presence - I am walking prayer. One 
recent afternoon, when finally the relentless storms cleared, I took my tea to the moss
garden. It seemed that the whole forest came alive to celebrate. One frog began the chorus, then hundreds joined in. The trees filled with chickadees, wood thrushes, and warblers, all gathered around this little clearing to sing. Hemlock trunks steamed as 
they warmed in the sun, their boughs filled with drops of water sparkling red and green and blue. It was at this moment, while watching tiny colored raindrops shimmering 
on the end of branches, that my spirit bowed in reverence. 

For a long while I sat and listened, entranced and deeply present with this mossy
bit of earth. Moments that catch and take me are both grounding and expansive. 
There is nothing more profound than experiencing these both within one moment. 
I feel true presence as rigid as bone and as wide as the space between breaths. 

When eventually the chorus quieted some, I meandered through the paths, 
careful not to step on the red efts who come out in abundance in the rain.  
They look so striking against the green mosses. I've been musing lately about 
these amphibians. They begin in water as larvae, then come out to land in 
their red eft form, then go back into the water and transform into adults. It 
came to me one day that maybe we humans have this kind of experience - from 
the source to our embryonic beginnings, to life on land, then back to source. 

I'll leave you with the rest of my photos from wandering that wet, WET afternoon. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring Green & A River Walk

"Wetlands #3", watercolor

The wood stove creaks as I write today. A late morning fire warms the house and 
cold rain soaks into newly dug garden beds. I sit at my upstairs writing nook quietly admiring the yellow-green leaves of beech and birch - a shocking contrast to the 
darker hemlock hues. Spaces left empty since fall are filled again as the deciduous 
trees burst into leaf. Miraculous variations of greens weave between unfurling 
rust-edged maple leaves. As May slips gently past, I find myself wandering in the woodland, enchanted by delicate flowers and the most magical songs of 

My dear friend, Bob, and his partner, Mabel visited last week from California. We 
went to the Chesterfield Gorge to admire the swift flowing river, high cliffs and 
amazing rock outcroppings. The path meanders along high above the river. 

Eventually, the path opens onto the view of the river as it leaves the gorge. Often
one sees fishermen in the shallows below. This day however, we were alone to 
listen to river songs and distant raven quarks. 


Looking back upriver, we notice the huge, quartz boulders eroded from an intrusion 
long, long ago, 

 and the sheer face of the cliffs on the other side. I imagine the bobcats love it here. 

 Tree roots grabbing onto stone remind me of temples in 
Cambodia being reclaimed by the jungle. 

Amazing evidence of ledge turned on end:

Stone outcroppings with lots of nooks and crannies for critters.

 Caves and a stone lean-to along the path show evidence of fort-making. 
I would have loved to play here as a child.... 

I think I must return to this small dwelling someday to leave some enchantment... 
It would have been the perfect house for my little Stieff bears who occupied the 
bookshelf in my room when I was a child. I think my bears would have much preferred 
this spot. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Whirlwind in May

"Old One"
on view at the Chesterfield Public Library, Mass

During our "inspirational tidbit" at the start of class recently, I asked my students  
what archetypes they resonated with that day. In the midst of a whirlwind week, 
I sit and type and find it would be a useful question for me today. A moment of 
deep breathing, of closing my eyes and feeling what is stirring in me, reveals 
the archetypes of The Mother, The Teacher and the cycle of Death & Rebirth. 
I feel a bit like a mother who's nest is emptying. I had a vision of a Robin sitting 
by her nest, watching her amazing fledglings take off, just as I witness some 
students I have worked with closely for many years head out into life. 

The whirlwind started Saturday with an Arbor Day Celebration at the town library
with a small installation of my tree drawings and watercolors, an invasive species 
talk with a local forester, and the trimming of a large old Maple on the library grounds. 

I hung a collection of scratchbord panel drawings on a small wall in the library. 
I very much like the beautiful architectural detail surrounding them. Also included in 
the exhibition are several prints of tree drawings on scratchbord paper and watercolors. Outside, my friend Tim was busy climbing and trimming the old maple with a few spectators watching him swing effortlessly from limb to limb. 

Sunday brought warm sunshine and the celebration of Beltane at a nearby farm. 
It was a long day of being on the land, walking the labyrinth, visiting a peace cairn 
and stone circle, and dancing the Maypole. Seven baby goats had just been born, so
they were paraded around the ritual site to bless and be blessed. 

Monday was the last day of classes - final critiques all day... 
Below is a collection of books from my 2-D Design class. 

Nina's cool book of eyes. The large eyes are drawings of 
irises close up, mounted on patterns based on animal 
eyes - spiders, geckos, cuddle fish.... I love the three 
dimensionality of this book. 

Sarah with her water book: 

Megumi with her book about Japanese aesthetics: 
(It was fun to teach a Japanese student a bit about traditional Japanese book binding)

 One of the pages from Megumi's book is a watercolor of Cherry Blossoms... 
she missed them this year!

I love this next piece, from my Myth & Symbol class. 
Victoria did a series of paper cuts based on traditional 
tattoo designs. The detail is amazing and created 
interesting shadows. 

Detail of Victoria's piece:

Geraldo, also from Myth & Symbol, did a series of 
designs exploring faces and optical illusions creating movement. 

The amazing Olivia James did a series of wire sculptures at the start of our directed 
study together. As the process developed, they became sculptures for the body - and 
she has found a new passion for jewelry making! She painstakingly wraps wire 
armatures making forms based on natural objects or ancient artifacts. Olivia is graduating, so I'm so pleased that she's found both a meaningful process and concept to carry out the door with her! Do click to see the one below in better detail.

The last few images are from the Senior Thesis Exhibition at Clark University.  
Today I sat on several thesis panels, also of students who I have 
worked with for many years. Its a wonderful show - rich and 
varied and full. Below is an installation of small paintings 
by Jessica Richland. 

Detail of wall installation, Jess Richland:

Two paintings by Phoebe Cape:

My favorite of Phoebe's:
(click for detail of texture)

Quite a beautiful installation of chicken wire sculptures 
covered in beeswax by Katrina Beshears - wonderful, 
ethereal shadowplay. 

Idalina Abdo-Viera created an incredible paper 
installation.... I was enchanted!

I am full, and tired, and ready to sink into the land. I will 
have a bit of time in the morning to sit with the mosses and catch 
my breath before more roving about to a retirement celebration, 
and a Georgian polyphonic singing workshop on the weekend. 
Goodness, how time flies when one is flying themselves.... 
I do look forward to tending the garden now that the snow 
has finally all melted.