Shukra’s Magha

I worked on a collage piece in anticipation of the eclipse::with Sun and Moon both stationed in The Lion constellation (the portion they’re in is called Magha, 0 – 13 degrees roughly of the whole constellation). The event brought to mind generous gathering of raw energy, potentiality, ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’ being covered by intuition:: out and roaming at large, space to delve into depths inaccessible with the bright sun always out . . . even at night, it is not concealed nor hidden, not the way it is veiled during an eclipse . .. at which time the moon does not reflect the sun’s light the way it does at night, the moon simply slips infront of all that light, small and lightless, and manages to completely block illumination for a short period before passing . . . but those short moments are full moments, during which the moon takes advantage of the light shining from behind to cast out her own shadow, to cast out moon-ness instead of reflecting, reflecting, always reflecting facing Earth, in the eclipsed moment:: to cast out . . . the only reflection occurring will be facing the Sun, Sun’s light shining on Moon mirroring reflection back on itself, a curiousity from which this collage is what came tumbling out . . .

Save

Garden of Life

The garden is popping and lively now at the height of summer.  Echineacea and zinnias provide a place for butterflies to convene and sip while sitting.  The zinnias are beautiful.  I love how their petals curl open from the center, forming swirl upon swirl of soft tongues that shape a whole flower head.  Amidst them the zucchinis and squashes are growing bigger than ever, thriving off the straw and shavings we spread in the beds last autumn from in the chicken coop, and the bees are heard and seen climbing around inside their bright yellow blossoms.  Lamb’s quarters are sending silvery powdery seed clusters out and the mint is running rampant.  When we walk through the bed and brush against them, they release refreshing scents all around.  This year the broccoli and cauliflower grew big but bolted right away into bitterness; feels like it’s the year of squashes, beans, cucumbers and tomatoes, as the lettuce did much the same as the brassicas, and the peas kind of grew and dried up really fast as well.  So far, this year’s medicine is showing up as lots of yarrow, Queen Anne’s Lace where ants climb about; less bee balm than ever, hardly any prunella.  Changing climate in these mountains, after eight years of feeling out the growing pattern, it’s shifted.

Eight years it’s been since we found our homestead and moved to make our abode here.  It’s been an experience with much learning and unlearning too.  The past two years we’ve shared our hens eggs with black snakes.  This year we found one had moved in again, and it was eating all the eggs.  We disturbed it enough to keep it going before coming back again and again to the nesting box, eight feet up off the ground in the chicken run; it would lay coiled up hissing and striking at the long pole we’d poke in there.  We’d hoped to scootch it out and into a bucket to relocate, but it got the better of us every time, all seven feet of it lunging out before it would drop and slither away into the underbrush.

While I wrestled with how to get it out of there without ending its life, it sealed its own fate when one day Layla went to feed the chickens and found one of the chicks that Goldie had hatched out, eight weeks old, stretched out in the shape of a snake from head to shoulders; the black snake coiled up above having regurgitated it probably after constricting and attempting to swallow it . . . .was it too big to gobble past the wings or had Layla interrupted it while it slowly sucked, I don’t know, but this was a bit too much for Layla.  She’s been caring for our chickens since she was around seven or eight, and is now, at fifteen, our primary chicken keeper.  When she found the chick in this state, she took the pitchfork in her hand and went for that black snake with murder in her eyes!  She stalked it for a half an hour before she got it, after which Anousheh spotted a second one coiled up in a nesting box!  Layla stabbed that one too, her outrage at the dead chick greater than seven feet of hissing striking intimidation coming at her and this time when it dropped out and tried to get away, our dog Clover had come by to see what was going on, and was on that snake in a second.  Her method is very interesting:: she throws the snake in such a way that it falls hard and is somewhat dazed from the impact.  She does this repeatedly until the snake is too stunned to do anything and then she gets in there and bites it quite dead.  Two snakes in one morning.  We moved their extremely long bodies to a bower of bee balm and yarrow to lay to rest intertwined with respect.

I feel a twinge of regret every now and then, wondering whether there was another way, and then I realize this is part of unlearning and learning:: an attitude perhaps around death and endings and beginnings and life that meets you in your face and shows you that it’s all part of a whole, and how you greet it is where an essence lives, what comes after springs from that, coiling and uncoiling, neither this nor that but this and this and a bit of that as well.  I wrote a short poem afterward, may work on it some more, later . . .

It comes together
At the tip of a pitchfork
Thrust just so and it whips
Like a Rudyard Kipling tale
Wrapped around the tines
Mouth open wide fangs bared
Hissing and striking
Until there’s no more
Thinking, grappling, or hooks
Only dueling
Only deliverance.

. . . . in the meantime I am thankful for the eggs we now enjoy and find it ironic that our hens flew into the peach trees and ate up all the peaches, save the ones ripe enough to pick and ripen a bit more in a brown bag.  They have moved on into the boughs of our laden apple trees, where they’re pecking at the fruits.  Snakes eat eggs and die, do we eat the chickens now that they’re eating up the fruit?!  Fair trade for eggs laid?  Many questions, how many variations of response, is there reconciliation?  Sooner or later we go to the river and swim with trout and in those fluid moments there are neither questions nor answers, just so many leaves fluttering above in layers between us and the blue sky floating by, snakes on rocks nearby sunning, and we are all together in a spiral, dancing with and part of a garden of life.

Save

Save

Mid-Summer Swinging

O will you lay with me
Beneath a shady tree,
On a ship we’ll set a sail
Row out to meet a whale,
Under the clear bright skies
We’ll swing and shut our eyes,
O will you come with me
Out to the apple tree.

summer days . . . rains washed out the patchwork shovel mending of the driveway, re-rutted and grooved them anew, similarly in the garden . . . the bales of straw we so cleverly laid out on pathways have kept the weeds down, however, they have also sprouted! What a chortle!

the beds are giving chard and peas,
hairy motherwort, nuzzling bees,
the ‘new’ garden flower
blooms magenta hour after hour,
ladybirds spotted inside the fold
sit dark red on yellow quietly bold

the old mulberry tree fallen over long ago has rejuvenated and sprouted shoots, with a bit of pruning and clearing of thorny thicket we climb around and upon the gnarled intertwined trunk . . . in crevices where bark has decayed there’s plants sprouting and down low from out of cracks, mushrooms climbing; what a tree, majestic is she!! . . . we enjoy fruit and shade at her side where she does abide with a bramble left behind her where rabbits reside . . .

this solstice we gathered and celebrated mulberry, hummingbird, hollyhocks, and daily lilies, simple pleasures with daylong arms and firefly nights.

Some like it hot

 

It’s heating up quickly here in the Blue Ridges; showing in the garden where peas and lettuce, in past years their pods swelling with sweetness, leaves juicy and fresh at this juncture, are already beginning to bolt.  We’ve had downpours, lots of rain all at one time, deluged with water after a dry warmish winter with next to no snow.  Mixed up into this are mood swings, from warm to cold to warm to hot to cold and wet to hot, fluctuating differently than comfortable predictable patterns.  Which asks the question,  to ponder ponderously the preponderous until it’s preposterous?  Or the other question comes a calling with fish in tow:: how then to fluctuate with the flow, swim with the current, surf the wave?

We’ll  be popping in tomatoes and cucumbers along those pea trellises, they love the heat in which they grow and thrive rather than bolt away, sow beans and squashes;  water in the evenings followed by rain dance . . . which requires mortar, pestle, shells, and firefly’s . . . wait and see what happens . . .  could be ‘the’ year for heat loving plants rather than cool season ones in these mountains for a change.

The cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower are under cover, cloaked in stealth away from the sight of those agents, those cabbage butterflies, so white and dainty, yet devastating once they get to setting eggs that hatch green camouflaged caterpillars that creep and crawl and devour the leaves, leaving behind dainty green lace.  The row cover also gives them a bit of a buffer from the heat, keeps more moisture in as well, so we’re hoping to enjoy them and who knows, the peas may yet get to springing up.

In the meantime, there’s quiches with eggs from the hens and asparagus, nettles, lambs quarters, mint tea, and best of all, though the driveway was flooded and battered, a little stirred and partially fried:: twas nothing a few boys with shovels couldn’t patty cake patch back into ship shape, dare I say, better than before 🙂

Repurposing:: cookbook into paintbook

Making an art journal with a very old, much loved and used cookbook starts with one cookbook that has well-stitched pages and a tub of glue::I use mod podge and glue three pages together, then three more, then another three and leave them open to dry before moving on to the next lot.  Before gluing, I’ll tear out pages then go to the corresponding side and tear out the set that’s on that side of the stitchery, thinning the book this way as it tends to get bulky with time and collaging.  I like to get all my pages glued before beginning arting in books, but it’s not necessary and I know folks who glue as they go along instead.  I work on our dining table, which I keep covered with an old shower curtain.

After the glued pages are dry, I paint two pages at a time with white acrylic gesso, let them dry, then go through about six sets worth to start out.  Then I get to the fun parts::moving color around the pages, usually Jasper paints with me and we get some interesting undergrounds done together 🙂

 

Later I’ll go through them and pull designs out of the swirls, collage, or draw over them.

They sit like this until one day inspiration, energy, and time all come together, then I pull out the paintbook and begin adding in details, turning something of the above over into the below.

Make a paintbook and give it some color, it’s a whole juicy flow to painting your story . . .  . cookbook, picture book, board book, composition book, your kids old notebooks; any book is repurposeable once it’s lived it’s original/intended purpose, the one thing to look for is firm good quality paper and sturdy stitched bindings, then go, glue, paint, give a book new life and flow!  When finished give it a cover of your own to show 🙂