Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fire in the Hearth

Spiral & Stone

Outside the snow has turned to rain, towards morning though, the freeze will come 
again. Inside rain rhythms play on the metal roof. Pasha just left his rug by the fire 
to sit with me. He grumbles when he sees the computer on my lap, and walks across 
the keyboard in protest. Giving up he goes back to his rug. I'm feeling a bit guilty, 
but have just settled in to this post so his invitation must wait. 

After much fuss, the gas stove in the new studio is working well and I have been 
painting the walls and getting ready to move in. I thought maybe I might need 
a cargo sled to pull across the frozen driveway, but a warm week has melted 
much of the ice.   

 I chose a white with a hint of yellow giving the room a wonderful, warm glow. 
It was a practice in restraint to chose a subtle color as the saturated yellow-oranges 
were tempting, but I'm delighted I resisted. 

I wish I had two weeks to dream into my new space, but now that school has started, setting up the studio must be wedged in between class prep and the usual winter 
tasks that come with forest living. 

A deep longing for the feel of ink gliding from my dip pen and bleeding onto 
paper pulls at me. I have been away long enough to loosen habitual ways of working, 
and crave the structure of practice in my life. 

Soon the sacred objects will collect on the studio table, and my dialog with 
the new space will take shape. How will this new place inform my work? 
What will be the first thing I work on? 

Looking back at drawings and photos from my old studio, I feel myself entering into 
my process even before my materials have found their place on the new table. 
Tomorrow, I'll begin to transfer my things from the old studio to the new. 

As always here at RavenWood, the land and creatures remind me of my 
wildness, and with the snows I see who has come to visit in the early morning hours. 

More than once today, while bringing wood inside, I paused to feel the cold 
air fill my lungs and listen to the chickadees twitter in the birch trees. 

In the early morning, just as the sun is rising, I light the fire and sit watching 
as it catches. In these moments, I feel a long line of ancestors behind me whose 
mornings started in the same way. My mother recently asked me if I minded heating 
with wood. How can I explain the need for the first moments of fire when the 
kindling snaps and the warmth begins? In winter, when the hearth is full of fire, 
ancient, primal stories rise with the heat of the flames. No, I don't mind, in fact, 
I am grateful. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Softening Snow

When the snow arrived on Thursday, it brought with it a feeling of purification 
and relief. Not much has changed since my last post with the various challenges this
moment has presented me with, but internally a deep surrender has settled in and
soothed the sharpness as the snow has softened the hills.  

The juncos have moved close to the feeders, fluffing their sweet feathers and 
darting from branch to branch and from seed to suet in a never ending dance.
I attempt again and again to interest Pasha in watching them from the big living 
room window, but he is much more of a mouse-cat than a bird-cat, thankfully!

Before the snows, Pasha and I took a walk in the cold and frozen forest.
Jude  walked alongside me that day as I noticed frozen moon-rings, 

and Sophie came to mind when I visited this favorite tree. Its wound 
reminds me of so many things, but this day it was a seed pod. 
Though I am in between studios and haven't made art in over 
a month, I'm never far from my process as long 
as I continue to look. 

Contrasts of conifer greens and browns and ice
reflecting winter sky struck me. 

This afternoon I put away the Christmas/Solstice decorations. 
I moved into it as a grounding ritual. Bitter winds howled 
outside and I paused to watch the 
magic moment of dusk. 

A white winter cloth replaces a red one on the table, 
and I celebrate the cleansing and deepening gifts 
of snow and ice. 

This moment: 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waiting and Walking

Solstice Fire at RavenWood

Overwhelm - that's the truth of it. I held the dream that the break between 
semesters would give me needed quiet and inspiration as I set up the space 
in my new studio and found my roots in creative process again. But I see my sacred, 
winter break slipping fast away as I wait still for the heater to be properly installed 
in the studio - days turn to weeks and I wait. Tomorrow it seems, the man that sold 
me my heater will come and put the piece in place that the gas company forgot to, 
so it will all be safe to use. 

Bigger than this, though, is finding out that a family member is facing a health 
crisis. It seems we have just come up for a bit of air, finding some normalcy after 
losing my niece's husband last year. Without much time to breathe, we've plunged 
deeply into another intense journey. I know that through these dark and 
challenging moments I am being given the opportunity to show up fully and learn, 
but I am truly craving relief. The moment to moment shifts inside me are extreme. 
Taking myself to the land is the most healing balm right now - and always. My nerves 
are soothed by the daily visit and calls of the morning crows and the enormous 
flock of juncos that peck around the moss garden. 

The first day of January was warm following a night of rain showers. The mosses 
glowed green and the light seemed more like spring than early winter. Usually we 
are snow covered by now, at least a few inches. Until yesterday a few snapdragons
still bloomed on the porch. 

I walked slowly, close to the house, noticing small details, 
A rune-like scratching in the red squirrel tree: 

I've been watching this pincushion of moss grow 
lovely reaching rays for months. 

And Pasha has grown his winter ruff. 

Thin ice, just at the edge of freezing. 

The garden looks more like it does in early April 
than January, but the cold came today transforming 
soft and green to hard and brown. 

Though I grumbled and moaned at the start of this post, 
let it be known that my excitement about this new space 
can hardly be contained! Here is the completed studio, 
waiting for heat so the walls can be painted, 
the shelves built and everything moved in. 

Looking from the front door to the back:

The front door and storage loft above. 
Behind the partition wall is a closet. 

The beautiful gas heat stove on a test fire:

Inside, One can tell the temperature of the wood stove by how 
close Pasha sits. Here, he's far, but this morning after his outside rounds in 
the cold 13 degrees, he was practically on top of it!

The house is dressed up with the Christmas tree turned World Tree that 
holds white feather prayers from all who visit. 

and of course, there just wouldn't be magic without owls....