Winter Nests

Light in the Darkness, 2019, Archival Digital Print

Just now I spotted a nest so low on the branch that I wondered how those hatchlings survived. It is right out the front window in a thicket of flowering bushes and would have been well hidden when there was full foliage. Nevertheless, I thought that the feral cat I feed would have spotted it last summer and had a meal. In this time of year last summer’s nests are visible and they are everywhere.  Tiny ones, ones in pouches, slung from branches like pot hammocks and big ones high up.  We can think about such things during this time when the Earth is deep in sleep and we can dream of life when she awakens again.

When you live on land rather than cement every season is important and pleasurable.  Winter is no longer just something to be endured but filled with quiet to remember and to plan and especially to appreciate.

 

Night at 4:30 PM

December Fireworks, 2018, Archival Digital Print

The Sun sets in the afternoon now. It is night at teatime now.  But, the Solstice is nearing and soon we shall pass that marker and know that the Sun will start to shine on us longer and longer each day. It is a time for celebration as we turn to the renewal of spring. Weeks, months to go of snow, sleet and cold but the promise of change must have been placed in us eons ago and given us hope.

Everywhere there is beauty in this quiet time. A certain bird, a surprising rock, a configuration of twigs and light and a building edge that seems almost glowing with rightness. It is a time of a drawing consciousness, too.  To draw is to connect to the first thought in the mind.  Much of what we see as lack and emptiness in today’s paintings and drawings is rooted in secondary source as the end product rather than the beginning of the trip. But, once engulfed with the possibilities of this most primal of forms a world opens that is like nothing else.

The world waits while we dither away on small stuff, waits for us to simply See.

The sun is sharp

Early December Sun, The Minotaur’s Shadow, 2018, Archival Digital Print

The sun gets sharp and the Minotaur can see his shadow. These are the waning days of the calendar year. No matter how harsh the weather there is a gentle quality here, something I didn’t know I missed or even yearned for, until I found it.

I watch our coarse president from Queens, his tawdry boorishness exuding from his orange face, creepy flat eyes, and always angry mouth. This is the face of what we have become.  God help us!

As the year turns, let us hope that the Minotaur returns to his labyrinth and a new gentleness returns to all.

 

First Snow

Thinking of Southern Sung Painting, Archival Digital Print, 2018

Our first big snow and the roads were bedeviling last night.  I left town on an earlier train trying to get home before the worst of it hit.  But Amtrak is not reliable and we were stopped for forty minutes in the Bronx because of a stalled Metro North train ahead of us.  This is customary now.  Infrastructure deteriorates by the day and our politicians dawdle.

Once in Hudson and heading home, the white sheets of snow,  the winds, and the lack of any guide other than the midline studded strip, made for impressive conditions.  I missed the turn-off from 9H but was able to back up on the highway since no one was on the roads.  Turning off onto my country road it was worse, but the sight of a huge plow blinking red and white like a happy Christmas tree up ahead was a beacon and it guided me safely home.  After feeding everyone I fell into a deep and grateful sleep.

All worth it to be able to live in this paradise.

The New Beginning of Darkness

The New Beginning of Darkness, 2018, Archival Digital Print

We turn to winter and the short days and long nights. The rains have been continual from late summer and leaves are layered and matted in wetness now.  Today high winds. It will be a daunting cleanup in the spring but no time to consider that. Instead it is bird seed enough, leaks plugged, getting a heater for the chicken coop, bringing in wood for the fireplace and printing in the studio.

I found the shed skin of my resident snake who lives (I hope) in the walls.  I dread opening a drawer in the flat files and finding him sleeping cozy on my Fabriano or Arches.  He keeps the mice down for which I am grateful.

In this interval after the frenzied election and so much worry, the calm of the time before the snows is a gift.  I continue to be a hermit and see no one.  But on teaching days my train friends are reliable commentators on the state of the world.  Standing there together waiting for the first Amtrak from Albany I cherish their bonhomie, quick wit and insight.  How lucky I am to have found this place in our troubled world!

 

Webs, Connections and Lessons

Tuesday Morning Web, 7.28.15, 2015, Archival Digital Print

This morning as Winter lurks over the hills and the first frost came in the night, I reflected on the nature of our paths. I found this miraculous web in the grass while temporarily living in the Shenandoah Valley during what was the worst period in my life.  This utterly beautiful construction was made by an anonymous spider who invested hours of work in the cause of catching something to eat.  I wondered at the time if the spider was aware of its aesthetic or if it just spun a web because that is what a spider does.   Was it aware of how fragile and perfect this construction was?  We can’t know.  But there it was that damp morning, spectacular in the way it caught the light and turned it to diamonds.   It reminds me now that during dark times we must do what is in us to do.  Maybe someone in our web will have delight and catch diamonds from it.  Nature has lessons if we listen and look.

 

The Eternal Reliability of the Turning

TockTock Free Ranging in the Plant Shed, 2018, Archival Digital Print

There is reassurance in the turning of the wheel and in spite of the things that seem disruptive, each settles in and is absorbed as life continues, the sun rises and travels through the sky and sets in the west only to rise again into our eternity. Maybe not all of eternity but certainly in ours, the life of a mite relative to all time.

My new boy TickTock escaped his crate when I brought him home from a Connecticut farm and is free-ranging in the plant shed.  My confidence in being able to catch any living bird has been challenged by this fast and beautiful boy.  I keep telling him about the six hens who await his morning song and beautiful feathers but TickTock wants none of it.  He’d rather perch and poop on my washing machine.

 

The Artist’s Pleasure

Sunday Morning Convocation, 2018, Archival Digital Print

Photography as a valid member of the Fine Arts has always been problematic. What is there is there which means that the nuance and encapsulated time compression of Painting doesn’t hold the energy of a masterpiece or if it does, not in the same way. Photography is nonetheless a thrilling medium capable of both the outlandish and the sublime. The recent visit to my yard by a Bear set off ideas and potential events.  I was trying to get the feel of a Bruegel.

 

An Unexpected Visitor

 

Feeder, Lawn, Bear, 2018, Archival Digital Print

This huge fellow visited my front lawn on Tuesday morning around nine. He was only interested in bird seed and decimated the feeders. I was sitting on the back porch steps when he arrived in his black-hole black, a darkness I have never seen on an animal before and his huge brown snout. What good luck to see him so close!  After thirty minutes of looking around he wandered away.