Friday, July 29, 2016

Down by the River...happily sketching!

Finally, a cool morning and off to the river for some quality time...I had plenty of time to think and dream and just BE.  This is my small Noodler's Creaper pen with DeAtramentis Fog Grey ink...

Not really wild if you're wearing shoes, but the new rubber sandals allowed me to wade on the gravel and sharp rocks...I call it a compromised win!  I felt like a kid, though...

The light was magical...

Joseph heads off downriver to fish--I actually outlasted him for once.  He walked home, I drove when I was ready...

No idea how this got turned up on end...I like to think a particularly hungry raccoon was looking for shellfish...

Driftwood shapes...you'll recognizes these last two in my sketch!
Ripples catch my eye...

Green July peace...


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wilding and Re-wilding and my spur to creativity--Day 25

I am rereading my own book, A Naturalist's Cabin; Constructing a Dream--this really is a re-wilding, then.  I miss the person I once was, 20+ years ago, and barely know her, now.  So young, so full of energy...

I wonder if she is still here, longing to break the shell of years and life changes--but yes, I know she is, in the recognizing and noticing and delighting in nature close at hand.


Of necessity, I am somewhat less active; my knees object to uneven ground so exploring my 18 acres--which are virtually nothing but hills and bluffs and deep valleys--in such detail is mostly an exercise of memory.  (The book helps!)




In part, this is why we built the shed in the lot we own next door to our house, and why we let nature have her way there...the desire, the need for the wild and a place to nourish and observe it, accessible in all seasons.  And flat enough to walk every inch of it!  Observing the small changes, rejoicing in the magic...
Though right on the edge of town, the shed is nestled in a small wood that joins with a much larger forest. 

This is my view long the path...

The path itself is very nearly overgrown...shady and private-feeling, though in fact it acts as a shortcut between the houses up the hill and the old mom-and-pop grocery on the edge of town.


The shed's lot is growing up into volunteer wilderness, as well...

One of my favorite journal pages, just come across in my files...

Yesterday's super-fast squirrel sketch--Prismacolor colored pencil and wash.  These guys often inspire me to grab my quickest tools and materials.
...and yes, wishing the book were back in print...it's a wonderful reminder of a special time.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Re-focusing...

Giving myself some room, taking my time, just being.  Just being.  Just BEING.

A constellation of tiny green stars on the path to the shed got my attention...I've always loved the small things...

...and I remembered to look up, and marvel at the miniature flowers on the climbing vine--I thought it was a variety of vinca, as it has covered the ground nearby with abandon.  Little mysteries!
A patent-leather umbrella hiding under the brushpile...I almost missed it.
Loving the slower pace and closer attention...

Friday, July 22, 2016

Creativity, Simplifying, and "Jobligations"--Insights, Day 20 and 21

I have realized I am capable of turning every project into a job, an obligation, imaginary or otherwise...hence my new brand-new, freshly-coined word, "jobligation."  And in fact tend to do so.  It's a habit with me.

Just what this 31 days was NOT supposed to be.  I haven't simplified, I haven't stayed in the moment, I've only occasionally felt really part of the nature I was in.  Instead I have added one more project...and feeling pressured, as I have when I've taken on jobligations in the past.

I said I might not post every day, I said I might just share a sketch or a short poem, or a thought.  Or nothing at all...

...and then I made it a job--a discipline--to post a journal entry every day, taking photos or making notes, not so much BEING there as thinking what I'd put in my blog that day.  Creativity suffered as did mindfulness, and my goal got lost in the shuffle.  I recognized my tendency, again.

I've enjoyed it, I'm still enjoying it, but I am refocusing before it's too late on what this time needs to be, for me.

So now, two days' worth, and we'll see what else might be shared.  I'll still BE there, but making it into work...didn't work!


The bridge, with pigment from stones found just downstream...
A Japanese suzuri or ink stone works well for grinding small amounts...

Hematite and gum Arabic


My little rechargeable fan turned out to be a lifesaver, on the 20th...that day came closest to being what I had aimed for in the first place.

Recapturing a treasured memory of fresh peaches and long walks...20 years ago and more.

This journal page was a struggle...everything fought me.  My pen, the paper, which buckled on that humid morning, my watercolors...washes took forever to dry.  My colors were muddy...so NOT relaxing and fun...
In the heat and humidity, my materials fought me and detracted from the experience of BEING there, yesterday, contstanting distracting me...frustrating me...


Shoes off, glasses off, NOT trying to work...


Beautiful blue chicory...


Joe Pye Weed along the lane
And so, two days have gone by.  The weather was a big part of it...since heat exhaustion some years back I just don't handle heat well.  I hit the wall after yesterday's hotter, stiller, thicker morning, and spent the rest of the day reading, resting, drinking cherry water, and recuperating.  Listening to my body.  Listening to my heart, and my soul, and re-focusing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hot-morning wandering, Day 19


This is from last summer's explorations, a backyard Materia Medica...
I wander around doing a bit of wild garden maintenance while it is still cool enough to breathe, freeing the holly from the grasping vines of Traveler's Joy and cutting back volunteer Ailanthus sprouts where there is no room for a tree to thrive.  I am itchy and smell of Tree of Heaven, but it feels good to visit corners of our smallholding and offer love and gratitude.

My reward was the incredible cobalt blue dayflower, Commelina communis, with its two prominent petals and and one much less so.  It was named for 3 brothers, Dutchmen named Commelin.  Two became well-known botanists and the third died before he could contribute anything to the field.


The photo doesn't begin to do it justice...
I had forgotten what a useful medicinal it is...but given how little there is here, not so very common despite its "communis," I just enjoy its amazing color and smile a bit at its history.

When harvesting wild plants for our use, it is always best to take only a few and leave plenty for the Little Cousins, as well as for their own propagation--and that only if there is an abundance. I often satisfy myself nibbling a leaf here or there...

It seems to me that these wildings are much more rare than they were when I was younger...or I'm less willing or able to go too far afield to find them!  Sometimes I find a huge stand of jewelweed, useful for itching or rashes or the sting of nettles.  Occasionally in the early spring there will be a great plenty of wild greens.  But the huge brambles of wild berries, or stands of pawpaws or persimmons are more rare than they once were.  I am happy with a taste...



I love finding Indian Strawberries hiding in the grass and gill-over-the-ground, also called "mock strawberries"--Duchesnea indica (sometimes called Potentilla indica)--though not poisonous, they are dry and tasteless, unlike their distant relatives.  Those, I just enjoy looking at or sketching!





Our small front yard garden provides enough, without trying for wild edibles that are either tasteless or scarce...

Later in the day, stuck at a trailer place getting my Jeep wired (45 mintues turned into a bit more than 2 hours, with music that made me cringe), I passed the time sketching my husband...about ALL I got done that hot afternoon...


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day 18, exploring ancient tools again...from the comfort of my AC!

On the way to the shed, I taste of a young dandelion leaf sprouting from the bare earth where my neighbor's water line was recently replaced.  I enjoy its tender, flavorful bite, and called it good...my summer-morning wilding!

Tender young dandelion plant

A day of heat and thick blue humid air, when my "re-wilding" in the middle of the day must be done indoors, exploring pigments and ancient methods of making art--and watching the wildlife beyond my windows.  In lieu of a mountain stream or a cool lake to jump into, this will have to do.




The books I spoke of the other day are these--so different but all useful and inspiring.  I've done many of the things these authors suggest, from making my own pigments as I mentioned the other day to cutting pens from quills, twigs, bamboo and reed...

(I've owned the Dover book in the center for years...it's one of my favorites.  The other two are recent...if you click on the image it will enlarge enough to see titles and authors.)


I often test one stone against another to see if they'll grind with interesting colors...here's hematite, ochre, and some interesting greenish-gray pebble.  The grinder at top is a found stone, the other is an inexpensive Japanese suzuri or ink-grinding stone.
Here are a few of the pens I've made...

The pen on top has a tiny reservoir added, to make it hold more ink.
This is how Denis Diderot illustrated cutting a quill pen in the early 18th century...I use a similar method.
 
I have arranged with the friend who made the rawhide for the healing drum to save me some deer hair to make my own paintbrushes.

There is something so satisfying about making and using your own tools, whether art tools, practical pottery, sandals, moccasins, knives...



I used this little flint herb-cutting knife in the garden today, trimming back some things and harvesting on my way to the shed.  The handle is bone I found in the woods...


And for the maximum inspiration beautifully presented, there is this video chronicling primitive potter Kelly Magleby, exploring pottery Anasazi-style.  I am in awe...my own experiments with primitive-style pottery seem almost urban by comparison!

Hand built raku pot

Day 17...not as wild as I once was!



I seem to have mis-dated my page, though!

Heat really gets to me, after a run-in with heat exhaustion about ten years ago, so I have to time my outdoor activities in the summer with that firmly in mind.  This night, the heat and humidity were marginal--I almost didn't go with Joseph to Rocky Hollow, but I was delighted I DID.


The early-evening light made long shadows where I could hide...
I often wear a damp kerchief around my neck when it's hot out...a trick my ancestors knew well.  Occasionally I spray myself with water from my little watercolor kit, too...but when there's no breeze at all, that's not a huge help.

We are designed so our sweat will cool us as it evaporates, but on humid days that just doesn't happen...I feel as though I'm coated with rancid yak butter.  I find my inner journeying somewhat derailed by not being able to breathe properly...

The wee fan fits right in the drink holder, and can be aimed almost anywhere I need it.



Teeny-tiny technology to the rescue!  I am never above combining modern solutions with my re-wilding if it lets me enjoy the inner journey a bit longer, and in more safety--heat exhaustion is no joke.

The fan is rechargeable and works a treat--a little lifesaver...




Knowing our limitations is part of the journey...

I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's The Last American Man, about Eustace Conway, an amazing, brilliant, and committed man who lived close to the land and hoped to turn America around to his vision by sheer will and energy--and commitment.  It's a fascinating book, and I've done some of the things Conway espouses...but yes, at my age I need my AC, and my fans, and a comfortable bed!

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