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. 


Ms. said...

The moss eyed enchanter, no less charmed than I, when you start to play. Oh this is a lovely post, and just the sort of thoughtful rumination I needed to take me down from a very long email and phone session with a friend in need. Here ut us balmy after a beautiful day, a bit damp with more rain expected. The cicada's have taken up their mating song in increasing numbers as August wears on. There are no wolves or coyote or fox visible on our city streets, though some may lurk in the parks. There are frogs in the ponds, and may even be seals in the river again soe day soon.

Unknown said...


Ms. said...

I wish I had read that over before sending. You will, certainly make the corrections in your mind.

Donna~Q~ said...

Moss-eyed enchanter indeed ~ he is so gorgeous! Hello Pasha :~) And Valerianna, it's easy to imagine the meditative process of your spiral making, as even viewing them instantly whisks one away on a wander along a spiral spirit path...

The seasons are spiraling as well ~ beautifully evidenced by your leaf collection. The title of your post captures the feel of this time of year perfectly. Also, your heart rock collection is fabulous!

Charlotte said...

A beautiful and meditative post, has your autumn come early this year? Ours has, the sloes here are a dark, dark blue and the haws red to purple. The blackberries are ripe before their time and the trees are so dry they are moving into the russet garb sooner than later. I love autumn but I like it in its natural rhythm and feel slightly disjointed at its early arrival.
The spirals are beautiful, each different, telling a story of its own.

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

I can almost smell your garden from here, I can hear the insects singing, and how I wish I had the senses to hear the wolf!
I am obsessive about drawing leaves, joined together like a green man face, or on spiralling stalks and fronds, I go away into a world of relaxation and nothingness, the same as when I walk in the woods, I come out cleansed and childlike.
Spirals, wood, stones so grounding, powerful earth symbols.
thank you.

Lecte said...

Your words smell of dry hay, and fallen leaves, and old wood.
The beautiful spirals you've shown seemed to me to go deep into the August forest, bright, but getting darker gradually.

Kathryn Dyche said...

Loved this post, I felt like I was going on some kind of journey with you. Your spiral inspired creations are so beautiful, soulful.

Tiffany D. Davidson said...

A thoroughly inspiring post. And aye, I believe following the spiral is very important :)
A friend once spoke of circular vs. spirular and how following a spiral allows for growth and evolution as opposed to a circular path.

Best to you ∞

Umā said...

I love your spiral meditations and find myself noticing them more in nature and always thinking of you and your artwork when I do.

As for the wolf song...funny you should mention that. There have been nights that J and I are listening to the sounds coming from the hills and woods and yes, we hear something that makes us look at each other with raised eyebrows.

Dreaming Woods said...

your garden valerianna looks wonderful!!! usually i do not mind much about cats but yours look kind and lovely.

Valerianna said...

Ms - seals in the rivers... my that would be wonderful!

Whytefeather - thanks!

Donna ~Q - I do think Pasha cat is quite gorgeous, but I'm of course bias!

Charlotte - This year autumn seemed always just behind summer, seeping in now and again the whole season, bringing cold and damp and wood socked folks out. Now its warm and sunny again, but the air never lost a bit of coolness to it the whole summer, save one big heat wave.

The Cranky Crone - I've been known to sleep with stones now and again for grounding....

Lecte - how I love that -" Your words smell of dry hay, and fallen leaves, and old wood."

Dyche Designs - Thanks for joining me on the journey!

Tiffany - interesting observation, hadn't thought of that. I also love circles, but I think you've hit the nail on the head of why I am so drawn to (ha, no pun intneded) the spiral. Where the circle can spin, the spiral spins and moves in or out.

Uma - I love when someone's work gets seeded in my psyche... cool!

Delila - Oh, he is kind and lovely... and not always a cat. Sometimes he is an old man, and sometimes a lynx and sometimes an owl...

Valerianna said...

Oh and Uma - you guys, too, huh? I so wonder about this. There are wolves in Northern Vermont, so it wouldn't be that weird if a few made it down here. Its cool anyway, to hear and wonder!

ramona said...

Lovely,lovely. Thank you for letting us walk with you!!
Hello to beautiful Pasha:)

trish said...

Your garden is so beautiful.
I would love to hear the sounds of nature, of the wild, where you live. I bet it is wonderful.
I have been noticing spirals much more since seeing your beautiful paintings. It is mediative to even just look at them.
Oh how I love root grandmother. She is wonderful, and so is Pasha cat!
Much love.

Virginia said...

Oh thank you. I needed to read the words "long exhale" today. We're still in the thick of summer, here in the Gulf Coast, but I trust in the promise that autumn will come.

Valerianna said...

Trish - I love that somehow my work has got you seeing a little more... that's wonderful. Root Grandmother was the first of these I made years ago. If you visit the Spirit Sculpture page up above the post under the heading, you'll see a lot more of this kind of sculpture.

Virginia - Oh, I bet its warm there! Its turning back to hot and humid here, but soon we'll get fall, way before you, I'm sure!

Kimberly Wachtel said...

It's very good to see your quiet, centering and reflective spirals. I've been radiating and radiating outwards...expanding and expanding this summer. I am looking forward to contracting inward to be still, and begin some new work and creations. I will be home in less than a week now!Your garden is looking lovely and I can really see the shift in the light that happens this time of year where we live in your photo's. It still feels like the thick of summer in Budapest!

Manya Maratou said...

oh thanks for this walk around it all

ArtPropelled said...

Another post that feels like a meditation in a scented garden. You have a way of relaxing the reader. I love the spirals on paper and on stones. As for Pasha... what a magnificent creature she is!

Tammie Lee said...

lovely to see these images of your world and life.
I know what you mean about the call of a wolf, we know it is a wolf. then there are other calls that sound like a wolf or a coyote.... inspires wonder and uncertainty. then there is the call of the coyote that is quite clear. they are all wonderful. lovely weekend to you.

Karen said...

Beautiful. I love my visits here. I can almost feel the forest it's so peaceful. Your garden is gorgeous, and wolf call... That is something one day I hope to get the chance to hear. Have a lovely weekend. x

Lynn said...

Thank you for this August walk through your garden and art. You live in an unbelievably magical place - with plants and stones and animals speaking all around you.

I love what you said about the spiral paintings and how it's the process which is the most important. I believe that's how it has to be with art - at least any art that has the power to touch others - which yours most certainly does.

And who could resist Pasha's mossy stare!

mairedodd said...

isn't that really one of the magical things about meditative work? it can pull you deeply within, or make you feel as though you are as expansive as the universe - to the point where you feel that your body's energy is connected to all... which makes you intensely experience the depth of the within... and around and around... like your spirals - choosing only which way to follow the line...
wolf song must be magical... and i too am so enamored of the loud cricket noises at night... vs. the cicadas' song which rises and falls with the heat...

Susan Hemann said...

Wonderful blog, I found you reading Jude's blog

Valerianna said...

Kim- amazing that you'll be home soon, seems like you just left!

Manya - anytime!

ArtPropelled - I like that... like a meditation in a scented garden. I just revisited The Secret Garden for a chapter, so I get what that is like.

Tammie - What's weird is that there supposedly aren't wolves around here, but more and more folks claim to have either seen or heard them. Same with mountain lions. LOTS of folks have seen them, but the fish & wildlife folks aren;t talking!

Karen - Nice to see you here... and definitely seek out wolf calls!

Lynn-its amazing how color, form & pattern can communicate authenticity, some work truly shines with passion. I'm drawn to deeply soulful work.

marie - I like the cicadas as well, but do love that amazing August buzz. Seems to have stopped tonight with a cold snap, I do hope it comes back!

Susan -Thanks! Oh and how I love Jude's blog!

Yvette said...


Reading Tea Leaves said...

Oh such a magical post, walking with you through your August garden. I love my visits here, viewing your spirals; listening through your words to the sound of the forest - a wolf's song - how wonderful but trepidatious too. Pasha's moss-green eyes and your beautiful heart-stones.

I have taken a deep exhale.


india flint said...

thank you for taking us down that thyme-scented path...think i may have been virtually enchanted by the moss-eyed one

Valerianna said...

yvette - thanks for leaving your mark!

Cottage Garden - thanks... loving the full-bloom of August. Its gotten pretty cool here, gotta get stacking wood and leave off the garden!

iNd!@nA - he seems to be able to virtually enchant... though he has no clue of it, at least virtually. I DO think he gets it in person......!

bj said...

I have just found your blog...and I am truly amazed! Your photos, your artwork --- everything fairly sings to me. I will add a link to your blog on my collage and stitching blogs. Seems like I've found a friend I've never met.

Suz said...

love your wild piece of earth
and your soul

thanks for sharing your wonderful writing

Donna Iona Drozda said...

My Inner Wild Woman sniffs the air, her ears twitch and turn to catch the calling, she scratches into the ground to find the direction to follow...alive and filled with wonder...

"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."

... my cellular memory pads the spongy forest floor.

Valerianna said...

bj - thanks for your enthusiasm! Glad you stumbled upon me here in the forest.

Suz - Even when I TRY to make things manicured (which is very seldom) it doesn;t work, so wild is surely the word!

Donna - My wild woman wants to run right out the door to follow the wolf howls when I hear them!

barbara said...

Every time I see the first picture of this post in my blog list, I am struck by the beauty ... and there is so much more of it. Who knows what your drawing in and out spirals engenders, I can well imagine it helps the world to center and move and center and move in natural harmony.

Sophie Munns said...

for a moment i left my rainy day city life to wander in your garden and stare into the lushness of the exuberant growth of late summer. pleased i am to wander over here today and read your lovely poetic words...
also to peak at the previous post... and to marvel at that spiral form and the way it does ground one to enter the essence of such making!
May that coming hurricane divert its course away form your part of the cosmos... take care!

Lauren Raine said...

What a wonderful meander through your garden, the spiral logic of August, and the spiral magic of your art. You brought so many memories of my years in New England back, and your artwork speaks of the true mystery at the roots and core of all gardens.

I know a storm is coming in the form of Irene's fury - sending you good wishes and fortitude from Arizona.

Chesterbrook Academy Elementary said...

I just discovered you blog.
Beautiful artwork.

I love spirals of your design

Penny Berens said...

Valerianna, such a lovely long exhale and now Irene is exhaling too. It's Monday now and I'm hoping you all fared well as she passed by. Over here she is relentlessly blowing - no rain - and the mass of clouds is scudding by.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hi Valerianna, beautiful nature in sound, photos and words... you portray it so well..
Hope you have made it through the storm safely.. we are getting the wind now, but the sun has come out.. Take care...

Ruthie Redden said...

I can see why the spirals of your work call you in, they seem ancient & mesmerising, and remind me of thumb prints, each one unique & so beautiful. Oh Pasha, those eyes. (as you might tell Valerianna, i have lots of catching up to do x ;-)