Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Long Exhale of August

I sit tucked into my desk nook, windows wide, cool night air lifting the scent of
flowering tobacco from below. Full-buzz time, high summer when the din of insects 
fills the sound-space vacated when the tree frogs quieted. The frogs leap away 
from the mower when I cut the grass, with other tasks now that enchanting the 
forest with their magical singing has slowed. Just now, in time for me to remember 
to tell you about it, I hear the howl that I know is not a coyote. For the past few years, now and again, some of us here have heard what we think is wolf song. Its something rather rare, and somehow unmistakable, though I find myself wondering if it is truly a wolf. Wolf song is so very different from the yelps and wining of coyotes, the baying of 
hounds and the barks of foxes. When I hear it, I KNOW it is a wolf, but afterwards, 
when the night is quiet again, save for the constant humming of insects, I'm not sure....

The collection of leaves on my table is growing, patterns and amazing color 
now catching my eye to add to the skeletal lacy decay. A few stones have been 
added for contrast, of course, and they all sit on a wonderfully smelling runner 
made from vetiver root. 

Yellow is the color of the moment as the long exhale of August spreads through 
the garden. 

Walking this thyme-scented path is one of the gifts of the garden, and the thyme  
is more than happy here. I find it popping up everywhere, and have plenty to harvest 
and pass along. 

A morning glory folding in on itself has captured some 
spring green inside. I wonder if they all do that? 

Tree rings on the old oak that split and had to be dropped are becoming
more pronounced as years go by, and they make a great transition to 
new work in the studio. 

A bright sunny day today found me spinning spirals in the studio, wondering at the 
obsessiveness of it. The process of drawing these is so satisfying, a very different 
experience than viewing the product. No matter if I like the outcome or not, I 
am always deep in the "spin" of it while in the making. There is a pile of rejects, 
a pile of keepers and a pile of "I don't knows". I like when they sit drying on top 
of the painted stones as the stones were the seeds that planted the drawings. 

But really, these are all about the making. The process is a meditation practice
where I find deep presence and belonging, rooted in the moment and expanding 
out in all directions. When I look at them afterwards, I go in, 

or out, or I follow a form that might be 
stone, or wood, or water. 

Glancing up from my spiraling, the root grandmother spoke to me, 
though I was too involved with my turning to listen to her story. 

I think I know what she whispered to me, as it has had time to find me... she was 
reminding me to follow my heart, my intention for the month. Not surprising then, 
that the heart-stones called to me...

and the moss-eyed enchanter, 
who called me out to play. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August Abundance & Spiraling Inward

Decaying leaf forms fell at my feet the last few days. I took a few to the table to 
look at while I ate, needing to spend more time with them. Lace-like and delicate, 
they became veils for me to look through. The camera didn't always know what to 
do with them - sometimes focusing on what was behind. It took just the right angle 
for the camera to find enough form to photograph. 

There is abundance in the August garden, and I find myself feeling grateful to all
the plants and flowers that thrive here. Its not so easy, what I ask of them. Some
would prefer the prairies of the mid-west, others the wet banks of a river, still 
others want the sandy soil of the mediterranean. I know just what spots will give 
the most sun, six inches to the left or right and there might be a few more hours 
of shade than a plant wants. Most of them, save a special few, would be ever so 
grateful for a few more hours of sunshine. This time of year, I envy gardens with 
tall sunflowers, Russian sage, overflowing vegetables, and a sense of order, but 
these are not the gifts of gardening in the forest.  

After eight years of growing things here, I understand how far I can push things, 
and surrender to the truth that some plants I love just won't be happy in my garden. 
So I've begun to dig up some dear plants that have tried hard, but haven't adjusted
too well. I know this will ultimately gift the garden with better health and spots to 
try new things, and friends will get very enthusiastic plants for their sunnier plots. 

Finding a balance between the cultivated plants and the native or invasive 
species takes some experience. I once let bracken ferns take over a whole area 
thinking they would be "holding the space" until I could plant it, only to learn 
that once they are in, they do NOT intend to leave. The ferns and coltsfoot 
below are a little better at sharing space, and I love the combination of foliage, 
but I will forever be digging blackberry out of this bed...

I'm always amazed when the teasel blooms, it teases (ha!) for a few days with a 
slight tint of violet, and then bursts into a soft furriness that completely contradicts 
the incredible sharpness of the rest of the plant. 

Nothing whispers summer to me like the scent of purple petunias. Sitting by the
window in the evenings, they intoxicate me with their fragrance. No other color 
seems to smell quite the same to me. 

Flowers teach me more than I can possibly express. 
Here, a lesson in radials and points. 

 Here, points, radials and fast form. 

The perennial sunflowers have a wild center
when fully in bloom,
(do click to see details) 

and the brown eyed susans really know their 

Yesterday, I did a little drawing in a new sketchbook. It is not at ALL the right paper 
for my spirals, becoming almost translucent with the slightest bit of water. Sometimes 
its good to try out new surfaces, to see what's possible, but after a few tries, I let it 
go.. sometimes its just wrong. Though I like some of the effects, I ripped the paper 
with the nib pen most of the time. I need paper that can take a beating. 

The paper in this sketchbook is MUCH better. Its an old book from graduate school 
that I never finished and is now filling up with words and spirals. Hope to find one of these again... the paper is just right for what I am exploring with spirals at present. 

This spiral -drawn a few weeks ago -definitely moves me inward... 
Here is what is written at the bottom of the page. 

My mother visited last weekend, and while out on an adventure to the Berkshires
she gifted me with this necklace. It is a Sun Cross with a spirit animal on the bottom. Though I never draw faces on my spirals, to me, they are alive, so wearing this is like wearing the essence of my work. 

I've been musing about how place influences me and my work. The spirals are very
related to forms in the forest and flowers in the garden. This place asks me to be slow 
and to look and listen carefully - to lean in. Much of my life was spent living by the 
ocean, where movement and expansiveness dominated. There, my work had much 
more to do with rhythm, horizons and atmosphere. Shape, form and color, in my 
early work was much sharper. Searching around in my studio, I discovered work 
that I had done while living in Greece. It was good to look back at work from that 
time, to see where I have come from. If you missed the post about that, you can 
read it here

"Sea & Sky", watercolor

"Taverna", ink drawing

 "Mountain Road", watercolor

"Kalivi", ink drawing

"Dog", ink drawing

"Kalami", watercolor

I wonder if you can see seeds of my current work 
in these? 

Leaving you with pics of us... 
me and Pasha cat, 
staying cool under the oaks and hemlocks, 
and dreaming of the sea sometimes.
Well, at least I am.