when i sat to make the collage i posted yesterday, i first started by sorting all the bits on my desk top into color piles. it’s pleasant work and satisfies something primal. i can image a similar exercise being used for therapy of some kind. my blood pressure dropped. my mind wandered. and i was in deep play. color blocking in fashion and design may go in and out of style. but as therapeutic play, it is timeless.
bits and pieces from a naturalist’s desk
turning a new leaf
on august 31st, i finished up a major five month renovation of the home next door to my own. because of the state of disrepair the house was in, the project became significantly more involved than we had planned for. long story short–it became all consuming. on september 1st, i handed over the keys to the new renters. so yesterday was literally the first day in five months that i woke up with nothing on my calendar and no mental punch list of problems to solve. i celebrated by going into my studio with no agenda other than to play. what a wonderful feeling that was! this singular creation, a collage really, was a collaboration between me and my bestie kristin, who had come over to help me celebrate. i love it for itself–for its balance, color, and whimsy. but i love it even more for the freedom it represents.
composition of found nature bits
our driveway is 1/4 mile long through a dense canopy of mixed hardwood trees. after a heavy rain, i will often have to stop several times up the driveway to pick up downed dead limbs and toss them into the woods. last night we had rain. this morning the usual suspects were again littering my driveway. but today, for the first time, i was struck by their colorful variety. sometimes i feel like a toddler who has to be introduced to broccoli 82 times before declaring it not only edible but maybe possibly desirable. so, after 82 times of tossing downed limbs into the woods, today i finally declared them maybe possibly beautiful.
collection of lichen and fungus covered twigs
on knowing your grains
according to wiki, the grass family contains over 9,000 species distributed throughout the world. of that, 35 have been cultivated as cereals. i am sheepish to admit that i can only recognize about 5 of them by sight: wheat, corn, oats, rice and rye. after that, i would be pretty much guessing. humans started cultivating wheat and barley in the levant (syria) about 9000 years ago. at the same time, east asia was domesticating rice and millet. yup, i said 9000 years. 9000 years man has been living in co-dependence with these plants (they allowed for increased populations, leading to larger societies, and eventually the development of cities.) they are at the root of modern civilization. and i can’t even confidently recognize barley. #sad
i am not a morning person. but i like getting out for my daily walk early in the morning if i can. it would be reasonable to assume it is because i want to avoid the afternoon heat, or maybe i want to have the trails to myself. and those would be pretty good guesses. but those are not the primary reasons. the main reason is that a whole lot happens in nature after dark. there is often quoted book by christopher booker who postulated that there are really only seven types of stories:
- Overcoming the Monster
- Journey and Return
- Rags to Riches
i think i have come upon examples of all of those in the remains and detritus i find on the the trails first thing in the morning. a strong breeze will often scatter most of the clues, so by mid-morning there is barely a hint of the drama that played out the night before. the story of this particular mallard was clearly a tragedy. but the osprey or eagle that feasted on him could have been any one of those story types. in my still-groggy mind this morning, i was pretty sure it was a rags to riches story. a hungry juvenile osprey, down on his luck with fishing, desperate for food, snatched this sleeping mallard and filled his belly for the first time in days–a veritable feast for a bird almost the same size as the duck. my osprey was king for a night. the end.