reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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no timely manner. [d.r. thursday]

now i understand. at least, i am beginning to understand.

my sweet momma and poppo would linger…watching birds, gazing at flowers, studying the horizon – be it shorefront or mountainside, cityscape or tiny town or rural farmland, slowly taking it in. in the hurry-hurry of my younger years, i would scurry past, noticing but maybe not really.

i am moving slower now. not because i can’t scurry, but because i am choosing to list to the linger side. though we still watch re-runs after re-runs of joey hiking and climbing and backpacking and pitching tents any and everywhere, imagining ourselves in those canyonlands keeping up, imagining ourselves on the pct or the john muir or the colorado trail, i know that our pace would not match the pace of joey or the exuberant younguns on heading somewhere or walking with purpose or the meticulous norwegian xplorer. we would be slower, lingering, lingering. i’m not sure that would get us from point a to point b successfully or in a timely manner, but i’m thinking that our definition of ‘timely manner’ may have to just be different. because now – in the middle of this grand middle age – is different.

for now i want to watch the birds and gaze at flowers up-close. i want to stop and stare, drop to sit on a nearby log and take it in. i want to notice the intricasies of all of it, the undertones, the overtones.

as i look at the close-up of this milkweed trailside i am struck by the layers of detail. it somehow makes me recall decisions between the major chord and the relative minor, a continuum of impact. it makes me think of melodic gestures, a spectrum of color and of grace. a horsehair brush extended from the heights of the universe, painting perfection in the woods. artists’ hands waving paint on canvas, cupping clay on a wheel, flying over the white and black on a piano, coaxing lines that make you weep from a cello. all the same. creation in all its iterations.

on the call pat told me that the music – my music – had harmonics, tuned with the universe, that made her travel. humbling.

for i see that is what my momma and poppo were doing. traveling. they allowed the beauty around them to touch them, to slow them down, convincing them – in all the infinite glory that beauty -and art- can muster – that ‘a timely manner’ was relative, that time was relative. that time spent in a slow linger was precious.

*****

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pointers. [d.r. thursday]

“i believe art is utterly important. it is one of the things that could save us.” (mary oliver)

in those moments – so many of them – when all else fails to reassure – beauty reminds us. it keeps us present, in the moment, working to get to the next moment, breathing in deep breaths, slowly, slowly.

the work of an artist, in any medium, is as a pointer, just like the wooden ones with the rubber tip that your fourth grade teacher used as she pulled down the world map on the roll above the blackboard to show your class the track of an expedition or the location of a country. artists pull down the map and point to it, making it accessible to anyone, making it alive, bringing an infinity of beauty, pulling your attention away from the narrative inside, whatever it might be. it is a tool of healing, a balm, a salve. it is freeing. it is free.

we immerse in music, in the ecstasy of dance, in the flow of poetry, in the spectrum of paint on a canvas, the feel of clay pots in our hands. we sometimes forget and are driven into the angst of life’s dimensionality, missing the limitlessness of the simplest. these are the moments we turn to art.

for in the end it is not the accumulation of things or wealth or titles or power. it is simply and utterly the sheer beauty of being here, the absolutely stunning realization that we get to be here in this moment in a continuum of moments we share – albeit tiny within the vast – with the universe. inside the art.

“you can’t take it with you,” my sweet poppo would say as he would refer to money or stuff. in those pondering moments he had, he somehow knew watching the cormorants on the lake out the window, listening to music on their stereo, puttering and creating in his garage workshop, quietly coffee-sitting with my momma – these were the things of value. the day he threw caution to the wind and purchased a large painting at the splurgy karl’s mariners inn restaurant perched on northport harbor; he was answering the call of art – the pointer that drew him in and wrapped him, in this case, in the fjords of norway and endless dreaming. it moved home to home with them and always was a source of calm, a reminder of beauty and peace.

each day i walk downstairs and see this canvas on the easel. each day it reminds me of the trail we often walk, for it is the paused and erased beginning of a painting of the woods of that trail. i pay attention to it because it affords me tiny spaces of river trail within my day. it reminds me, as i scurry about attempting to get things done, to remember. it slows me down and i can hear the rustling of leaves, the birdcalls, the crunch of our feet on dirt, the chatter of squirrels. i can feel the sun atop my head, the breeze in my face, my arm looped through david’s. i can see the color of wildflowers, lush green underbrush, rough grey-brown bark, cloud-dotted blue sky. i can sense a bit of time on my hands, but just a bit. and i am right there, stepped out of the up-close worries, stepped into beauty. i am paying attention. art has done its good work.

to pay attention, this is our endless and proper work. (mary oliver)

*****

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live in clover. [two artists tuesday]

clover

“to live a life in clover:  to live a life of ease, comfort or prosperity”

the clover on the side of the trail was huge and bountiful green.  we look for the bunnies and wonder who is lucky enough to be nibbling these leaves.  we ask each other – which clover is sweeter:  small-leafed clover or large-leafed clover? we make up the answer and walk on, leaving the field of green, satisfied our clover-knowledge is adequate for the time-being.

we pass the lake, overflowing its banks onto the trail, muddy at our feet and steel-grey-blue out in its depths.  goslings follow obediently behind their parents, the beaver makes a rare appearance, cranes soar overhead, fish jump.  we stand and watch for a few minutes, quietly taking in the field of water, our breathing slowing.

we walk through woods, verdant green peeking out from every brown corner, the field of the grey bark of trees, oldest, youngest, all climbing to the light.  frogs echo from the swampy ponds off the path.  we relish the silence.

past the cut-down fields of corn, brown, the dirt lays barren but for old stalks laying amid the former rows.  we walk and talk about farmers and crops plowed under and whether there will be planting again in these fields, brown now and corn-green later.

and we know, as we walk, that, despite it all – circumstances of abundance, circumstances of lack – we are lucky.  we are walking.  we are breathing.

we will walk in verdant green and blue-water and grey-bark-trees and brown waiting-fields.  we will walk in rich fields, all golden with life.

truth be told, we are living in clover.

“but I swear in the days still left we’ll walk in fields of gold
we’ll walk in fields of gold” (sting)

 

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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spring stripes. [two artists tuesday]

nature's stripes copy

stripes copy

you have to admit – the first set of stripes is way more interesting than the second.  the first set. in the woods.  the color combinations.  all alive with hue and subtlety.  the second set.  static.  no air.  no depth.  no variance.

this weekend, on a warm-day hike along the expanding des plaines river, the colors were spectacular.  the blue-purple of the water late in the afternoon.  the fresh-baby-grass-green of the small island across the river.  sky blue, white clouds, golden sunlight.  it wasn’t capture-able on film.  you just had to stand there and breathe it in.  stripes, patterns, shadows, delicate light, elusive dark.

by hiking often on the same trails, we can see the minor changes along the way.  we take note of them, commenting on a felled tree or more water in a pond or a new nest high in some branches.  there’s more mud, there are goslings, the daffodils are in full bloom, the groundcover is rich.  the earth coming back out of fallow.  winter’s rest is over; spring’s explosion has arrived.

for us, these winter-spring-summer-fall hikes are necessary.  they allow us to see, outside of ourselves; they allow us to process good earth growth and change and color.  for us, these hikes are like a security blanket.  they soothe worries, sort problems, wrap gently around us.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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spider sisu. [two artists tuesday]

whoa….we saw one on the des plaines river trail and stopped short.  it looked like candy on the path, but on closer examination, we discovered it was a spider!  an orange spider.  it’s called a marbled orb-weaver.  and it’s pretty intense.  and, i suppose if you are not spider-phobic like me, it’s beautiful.

later that month, we were hiking at bristol woods, one of our favorite go-to places to hold staff meetings as we walk together.  out of the corner of my eye i caught the glimpse of bright movement in the air…sure enough, it was one of those marbled orb-weavers (doesn’t that just slip off your tongue? lol!)  it was dangling on a web-strand that was at least 5 stories high!  whattheheck!  this roly-poly little spider was bravely trying to reach a white mass that was a bit flattened (an egg cocoon with several hundred eggs, we read later) while being tossed about in the wind, up and down, sideways.

i could practically hear this spider whisper to itself, “gotta have sisu, gotta have sisu” as it climbed, bobbing, bobbing, up its long, high-above-the-ground web, finally reaching its cocoon and wrapping it close into its body.

wow.  what we do for our babies, eh?  amazing stuff.  the stuff of sisu.

marbled orb-weaver

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SPIDER SISU ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson