Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wolves at the Door

Hare and Bone and Hide

There is a place I visit 
when weary in my heart,
of who we have become 
and how we have forgotten. 
The journey there is long, 
through cave, 
and remembering.
 I crunch through lightly falling snow, 
trail of woodsmoke 
and cedar scented air. 
Wind blows delicate flakes in bursts 
and breathes through tribes of swaying, reaching pines. 
It is night. 
When I reach the glowing shelter, 
flakes die, stars are born. 
Soft drumbeats and low voices 
hum together from inside. 
I bend and enter 
a flickering world of fire and women, 
wrapped in blankets and furs, 
singing songs of moss.
Hair and bone and hide
bound and tethered and known. 
I sit without a word, meeting 
- soul to soul-
the ancient one, 
keeping rhythm with antler 
and broken heart. 
Gentle sounds of rattles, 
shake me into presence. 
I am here, as I am, 
nothing more to do or say or be. 
The eyes of each one gathered here,
 knows of death, 
and of going beyond. 
A raw, 
exquisite knowing - running through the forest, 
hunting a life worth living,
glancing and grinning, 
at the toothless shadowed one, 
running along beside. 
Breathing together in this circle, 
drums and rattles and crows,
building, weaving, praying,
there is no forgetting who I am, 
or what I am to do, 
or that
and stones, 
are breathing 
me, too.

I wrote this back in 2010, and posted it here then, too. It felt appropriate for today. 
Connecticut is not far from here  (for those of you from over the seas and far away), 
it is a neighboring state. The school where the shooting took place yesterday is one 
that a friend of a friend's niece went to until last year. So, this is close. But I have 
been in my own wave of grief the past few days - as it is with grief, coming and 
going - and find I can't crack open any more to hold this new, massive weight. 
I'm aware of it, but it is distant, not mine, I'm sticking with mine for now. 

Last night I had a dream of wolves at the door. First, I opened the front door to see a man in camouflage, carrying a rifle, walking close to the house. I thought to myself that I'd never seen a hunter so close, and closed the door and wondered. Then I looked out and saw two, huge wolves and several of their young. I was excited - for if there are wolves here, it means the forest is healthy, that there is enough prey for one of the larger predators. Then I thought of my Pasha cat and his forest wanderings - he's the closest thing I have to a child. I thought about the added risk of letting him out with wolves around. 

The truth is, I have been hearing what sounds an awful lot like Wolf howls in the night. They are not reported to be here, but, I think they may be moving in. Its quite something to let one's beloved out of sight, into the world - be it forest with wolves, or the world... 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

White Owls and The Magic of Speed, Light & Looking

A deep and heartfelt thank you to all of your comments on my last post. I've even 
received emails from bloggers checking in, making sure I'm OK, wanting to connect 
in a more personal way than in a comment. I was quite moved and thank you all for 
your thoughts and well wishes. 

I haven't done much in the studio, still needing to spend time wih my deep feelings, 
and managing some debilitating fatigue. But at this time of the semester, my 
students are working on final projects leaving lots of space for me to draw in class. 
I've been wanting to try white ink on black paper, so here are my owl and tree doodles 
of the last few weeks. They are related to my scratchbord drawings in that they 
are black and white, so I'm interested in taking them further and possibly playing 
with white acrylic ink with the scratchbord. When I'm back in the studio - this 
week, I'm praying! - I'll give that a try. 

A burst of snow and cold at the start of December seems a distant memory, as
relative warmth, rains and mists have filled in the rest of the days. Today the 
sun came out and the forest sparkled and Pasha and I had an afternoon wander. 

Fungus and circles on logs and a tree full of lines slowed our wander to a 
slow meander. Pasha, always the gentlecat, doesn't ever seem to mind the slow 
pace while I'm looking. He finds something to investigate, or dashes up and down 
tree trunks to get the most out of the adventure. Of course, for a cat, vertical miles 
are just as easily accessed as horizontal ones. 

He waits patiently at times, too, not suspecting that he is the subject of my 

Before I started the white ink owl drawings, I set up a small set on the windowsill 
at school, and looked closely at my collection of drawing objects through the 
eye of the camera. Dried jewel weed, tomatillo husks, a willow leaf and the 
mysterious weed that made such wonderful lanterns in the last post were the 
most agreeable subjects. 

One thing led to another, and I've been playing with the camera more than 
with ink and brush. Below is a series of images investigating light and speed. 
The first was made on a particularly beautiful afternoon in the forest. I 
moved the camera slightly in an arc as I was shooting. Then the idea took off 
and I've been taking photos on my home commute in the fading light. 

(I love the one below, notice the instrument lights!)