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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Old Things Herald a New Year

I have always found fallen leaves to be magical things.

They jump, hop, scuttle, soar; doing an excellent imitation of mice, toads, snakes, birds.  They dance together with abandoned exuberance on a circle of breezes, decorate a chain link fence in changing abstract patterns (surely there is a hidden message in their arrangement?).

Their crunching sound is so satisfying underfoot; kicking your way through a pile of freshly raked leaves is still one of life’s greatest pleasures.

The Forest Trees Breezes

I was laying under our walnut tree late on a spring evening. The leaves rustled and rustled all over; not a jumpy but a soft all at once kind of sound. The flashlight revealed nothing.

I think they were earth worms dragging leaves underground for supper.  The experience was so otherworldly, watching stars move over head to the music of frogs (spring peepers) and rustling dry leaves.

Treasure Hunting in New Mexico

We spent Christmas in New Mexico one year. Every morning our hostess would pack us a lunch and hand us a map to go hunting for treasure. It wasn’t silver we were after, even though we were near Silver City at Bear Mountain Lodge, but petroglyphs.

As most were on private land (but public monuments) this involved exploring back country, climbing fences and counting out paces from the nearest landmark.

It was one of those life experiences that leave an indelible impression on the brain and mark on your spirit.

The land radiates such warmth, especially when compared to the white of our winters.

A sky bigger and bluer than any I have seen.

On Christmas Eve morning we got our lunch and map as usual. But there was nothing usual in the activity in the Great Room of the lodge. It was filled with dozens of Boy Scouts;  all with brown paper bags in hand, quite a commotion.

Their task before evening was to fill these bags with sand and a candle; they were making Luminaries, a word new to me.

When we returned that evening it was to a place of magic.

The long drive and every plane and jut of the Lodge was aglow. The rightness of this Festive Decoration to both the landscape and architecture made my spine tingle and made the hair on the back of my neck stand to attention .

It was one of life’s moments.

Never Judge a Book by its Cover

I do pick up books because of their titles.  Who could resist titles such as:

A Wrinkle in Time

A Sword in the Stone

Worlds in Collision

A quick perusal of my book shelves reveals such nuggets as:

Mind of Raven

The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

What is the What

Growing Pains

A Guide for the Perplexed

Does it Matter?

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Letters and Papers from Prison

Dam-Burst of Dreams

Scantifying Life, Time and Space

Food, Sex and Pollution – pollution being bodily wastes. As youngsters my brother and I wondered why we put that stuff into our water supply. It  never seemed logical. It still doesn’t.

The Pilgrim’s Way

“I find humanity being incredibly careless and thoughtless in using water. Human beings go to the toilet and get rid of one pint of liquid by using four gallons of water to flush the toilet…Nature clearly separates the liquids and solids in mammals, and we keep mixing them up again in the toilet bowl.

No Scientist has ever been commissioned to discover the best way to dispose of beautiful human waste”.

quoted from Buckminster Fuller An Autobiographical Monologue/Scenario pg. 201

Irrational Man

Five Seconds at a Time

The Body has its Reasons

The Hidden Dimension

The Days of Augusta

Second Nature

One Two Three…Infinity

The Cloud of Unknowing

Angel’s Fear

Urine was once collected extensively for the cloth industry to help make dyes fast.

Pablo Picasso used it to age and patina his bronze sculptures.

Once I used book titles as names for a body of work that was primarily collage, figuring little but the composition came from my hand, so I felt free to borrow the titles as well. They were a set of postcards of celestial maps by Andreas Cellarius (1660) from the British Museum, which you see before you. These small works are approximately 5 X 6 inches embellished with ink, gold leaf and collage elements.

Walking on Water

The Curious Naturalist

Revelations of Divine Love

Small is Beautiful

This premise has always worked for me. It is a book title by author E. F. Schumacher subtitled A Study of Economics as if People Mattered.

The big gestures will not save this planet. I think Steven Lewis has that right. It is the small home grown initiatives that make change sustainable. It is heartening to know some people actually are acting on that impulse. Many artists embrace this idea as much for economics as expediency. Farmers try too.

I spent Saturdays from 5.30 am ’till 12 in my youth trading tomatoes and cukes for quarters at the local farmers market helping my aunt Madeline.

Recently my uncle in Maine extolled the great taste of the Ontario hot house tomatoes he was able to buy at his local supermarket. I am convinced they were grown just down the road from us. I emailed back and said “Well Hugh, how nice for you. All the tomatoes at our local supermarket come from Mexico”.

We forget that we have choices as consumers and as inhabitants of the planet.

These days I question the life I have devoted to my non-consumer stance. I would never buy canned goods as most things that come in a can have used more energy units to be made than what they contain (I always figured that was a bad deal) and I avoided products from other countries simply because the goods have travelled so far they have used too much energy just to get here.

It is an impossible idea that we can buy all our goods locally now.  We grow good garlic in Ontario, but all of the garlic at the supermarket comes from China. Go figure.

We have little industry left in our part of the world so I console myself by trying to buy that which is already used. This is not a perfect solution but it does help to mitigate guilt.

That was then.

Now that global warming is a reality that cannot be undone I find my earlier resolution at conservation waning. I do buy canned goods these days and even lettuce in non-recyclable containers (but not tomatoes from Mexico).

Does that mean I have little hope for the future or that I console  myself with thoughts that we will eventually be whisked off to another universe?