Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wandering at the Waterfall

Today I am grateful for abundant shade trees, cool water from a deep well and an
afternoon breeze that took a bit of the edge off the heat wave. The elevation of the 
hills here kept the temperature well under the one hundred degree mark, but others 
I spoke with were not so lucky. I was thankful it wasn't hotter, I tend to melt in heat 
and humidity. Pasha and I both moved around from shady spot to shady spot, me 
attempting chores in between long sits under the trees sipping lemon verbena and 
chocolate mint water. It would have been a wonderful day to go to Glendale Falls, 
but, alas, that was last weekends journey. 

The hills here are often nothing more than mounds of ledge covered in a wee bit 
of soil. Stones and ledges peek up everywhere, whispering their ancient earth 
stories. Glendale Falls starts as a small tributary brook with a lovely pool at the top, 
then cascades down in a series of falls and pools to the bottom. In spring it is quite 
a rushing waterfall, but this time of year the pools are fed by small streams providing
many a wonderful swimming hole. 

The pool at the top is deceptively deep, below, a fellow wanderer stepped into 
the deepest part to have a real swim. There is a spot for a whirlpool massage as
well, as long as you don't mind an occasional small fish dancing in your hair. 

One can climb down the smooth ledges from pool to pool, or walk beside the 
falls in the forest. The way down is often a stone path with hundreds of tree 
roots holding on for lack of deep soil. 

Walking slowly between roots and stone, a magical moment of light captures me. 

Small streams and pools sing gentle forest songs, 

and everywhere the trees seem quite able to pull up 
their roots and join me as I wander. 

Two trees reach for each other, perched together 
for a hundred years or more, holding root-hands 
at the edge of the waterfall. 

Scarred and knobbed, this broken root healed into 
something that looks rather like the eye of a tree. Or
maybe a giant, green dragon once met a great sorcerer 
and was changed forever into tree. 

Small springs sprout from stone and moss and tree, and 
I find myself walking further into the forest and away 
from the people scrambling quickly down the 
waterfall to see what is at the bottom. I am reminded 
of the importance of the slow, meandering path. 

I come upon a woodland cave, cool and dark and deep, and 
know this place must be a favorite of bobcat and mountain lion, 
once the humans have departed and the darkening forest 
belongs again to the wilder ones.  

As I look more closely at the pair of reaching trees, 
I see tree spirits peering at me. I could feel them
here in this forest, and now I know they saw 
me, too. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Salamander is the Dream of Water

In the warm and breezy afternoon, I took myself into the studio to work with 
spirals. Thinking this drawing was like lichen clinging to stone, a short something 
came to me. 

I found myself writing it in the margins of my sketchbook all day... I wonder why 
somedays words must come out of me, while other days I'm content with images 
and patterns and the quiet whisperings of the forest. 

I've been thinking about the necessity of walking a spiral path. In an email to 
a recently graduated student, I found myself writing about how important it is 
for artists to walk in circles. Most of the extraordinary people I know seem to 
walk crooked, spiraling paths of immense power and mystery. I suppose life IS 
a crooked path - and I wonder if much of the stress we have comes from thinking 
we can make the path straight, know the trajectory, and follow along from 
intention to goal at the end of the line. 

Learning to walk in the mystery is brave and essential for the creative process. 
I dance with the mystery while making paintings, starting from nothing and trusting 
I will know where to go. I think having learned to trust the creative flow has 
given me courage to walk through fear. Like walking through the dark forest in 
a faery tale, there are springs I must drink from, an old woman I must meet, 
and a ring I must bring to the king if I am to succeed in my quest. 

Peeking back at a watercolor book from several years ago, I found paintings 
that surely were seeds for my recent forest paintings. Seeing these suggests 
ways of working now, too. HA! Another spiral path, this one a spiral layering 
of time.  

On a recent outing I saw this ring. I imagine you're not surprised that it came 
home with me...

June in the forest was magnificent this year. The Mountain Laurel exploded 
into bloom and my walks were filled from ground to sky with white blossoms. 

Days of rain brought magical mushrooms. 

This one demanded contemplation, considering where 
it popped up. 

Giant ferns and wild irises together in the pond. 

 In the garden, some things are emerging, 

while others have gone to seed. 

There is much beauty when I lean in close and look under and through. 

Lunchtime tea in the garden. Pasha was the only invited guest. 

This grass captivated my attention all day. 
Delicate blooms undulated with the wind, 
a beautiful, graceful dance.

After tea, a catnap was in order. 
I wonder if I need to weed around Pasha's bench? 
The ferns seem to be claiming it for themselves. 

I did bring a fern inside to grace the windowsill, 
but not Pasha's nap-bench fern. 

I love this dreaming woman....

A luna moth stayed by the house all day one day, 
tucked in a fern where I placed him away from danger. 
He died the following morning. I do hope he found a female 
during the seven days of his life so RavenWood will have many of 
these magical moths next spring.