Monday, May 30, 2011

Rushing Into Summer

All the wild things are out in full bloom, already, and I can feel the press of numerous yard chores hovering over me: pulling weeds, pruning, stump removal, and working the dirt before planting.
Down in the Eagle River valley, the blustery wind kicks up silt into swirling dust devils. I watch a raven perched atop an ancient cottonwood call in gregarious caws to his mate. Dark gray clouds coil overhead, and the wind, rushing past my ear, contributes to my sense of urgency. There are so many things I want to do this summer. And so little time. But how can that be; we’re rushing into summer with 18 hours of daylight? While down on my knees, weeding, I reflect on the inspiration of summers past.
I remember exploring the rocky shores of Tutka Bay, and watching the sea otters barrel roll in the early morning fog. I relish in the elated expression on my husband’s face as he maneuvered the boat, pointing excitedly to the raucous activity on a bird rookery in Kachemak Bay. I remember climbing to the alpine meadows of Long Lake, and unexpectedly catching a marmot bathing on a flat rock warmed by the sun; and hiking the Cross Pass Trail complete with the exhilaration of a heart-stopping river crossing. Then there were all the new places I wanted to explore…the Koyukuk River, Bear Cove, and Knight Island.
From the garden, I stand quietly looking at Eagle Glacier, still snow covered in the distant valley. The river is slow and silty, snaking the valley floor in its own time, no rush to get to the ocean. I take a deep breath and concede the same…the garden will wait for me and everything will get done, bit by bit, in its own slowed down time.            
I’m going to enjoy this summer, with expanded evenings working in the garden, winded mountain-bike rides on the South Fork trail, and hikes in the nearby mountains. 
Like summers past I am reminded, there will be enough, even plenty of time, for all of it.

For a marvelous book on gardening by Wendy Johnson, click here:
Book description: "Gardening at the Dragon's Gate is fundamental work that permeates your entire life. It demands your energy and heart, and it gives you back great treasures as well, like a fortified sense of humor, an appreciation for paradox, and a huge harvest of Dinosaur kale and tiny red potatoes."
In September, I will be attending a Writer's Workshop in Santa Fe, NM featuring Natalie Goldberg (click on her link here: and Wendy. I look forward to being inspired by their special gifts of rapt attention to writing, nature, and gardening.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Take Back Your Crayons!

Remember when you were a little kid, and the actions of drawing and coloring flowed freely, without thought, angst or reservations? One of my fondest memories is getting a brand new box of 64 Crayola Crayons, usually at the beginning of a new school year, opening them up and smelling them! Yes, I smelled them, and have discovered that I'm not alone. Lots of "kids" my age would get a head rush from the smell of fresh crayons (I heard Crayola puts vanilla in their mix). Pair that with a brand new coloring book (I loved coloring within the lines) and voila...pure happiness! A few years ago, on a long...very long...ferry boat trip from Alaska to Washington state, I brought along crayons and a set of mandalas to color (mandalas are circle designs; mandala means center, circumference, or magic circle in Sanskrit; to learn more about mandalas, click here:
I discovered again, the joy of coloring.

What I have known all along, but have most recently begun to REMEMBER is that there is supreme value in the exploration of color and design on a page, whether it be with crayons, markers, or paint. All of us have creative instincts or urges buried within, and are capable of discovering our voices through the creation of art and craft. (Sometimes it's hard to choose; I love painting, drawing, sculpting, photography, & making jewelry...another lifetime, please??). Did you know that doodling is actually good for your brain and creates a space for active listening (how many of you doodle while on the phone?)

I once took a Watercolor 101 class and had a strange experience driving home that afternoon. The colors on the trees exploded; I saw color within color, a radiance and brilliance missed on a normal, everyday basis. Somehow I was seeing differently, like my right brain had woken up from a very deep sleep. It was a short-lived experience, one that couldn't be reproduced through my own will, but memorable enough to recognize the existence of another way of "seeing" through the creation and study of art.

"Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose." (James Taylor). At a garage sale I bought a set of hinged panels, painted a dull gray. They were to be used as a room divider up in the loft at our cabin; a way to provide a little privacy for guests; but once I got them home and painted them (deep greens and blues), I decided to leave them right here in the studio because the colors make me happy and I want to see them everyday. Amazing what a few stencils and poster paint can do to a room...

It's time to take back our crayons and doodle again. Color within and without the lines. Have a paint "throwdown".  Discover what is lying dormant within...

For more inspiration on creativity, click on: 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Some Women Take Vitamins and Some Buy Peach Blossoms

These words by L. Falcone, author of "Moving Days" moved me plenty in my exploration of the art and beauty evidenced in everyday life here in Florence. Life is for births and buriels and baptisms, holy days and lovers' days, she says. Linda visits her favorite florist weekly, buying bouquets for the sake of happiness. How can one not be happy in a country where a simple greeting becomes a question as lovely as, "What are you doing that is beautiful today?"

Wine, cooking, flowers, cheese, chocolate, fashion...all are developed slowly, with care and attention to creating beauty. The Italian's devotion to an elevated quality of life is evidenced in the pace of their lives, taking their sweet time to both cook and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Restaurant portions are small yet packed with flavor, stimulating all five senses. And a proprietor who creates "slow food" is referred to as a "good fork," as he/she crafts food with an awareness of texture and taste. No need to rush: smell and taste every bite, take time for conversation with friends and family...and indulge in a small cup of freshly made gelato for dessert.

It is said that a badly bent mood can be solved with the right fistful of flowers.
Where have you observed beauty today?