Sunday, November 20, 2022

Looking At Art

 So often, people wander through a museum, stopping for a few seconds in front of whatever art might catch their eye, but then moving on. This father and daughter spent several minutes in front of a painting that had piqued the girl's interest. They studied the Venetian woman portrayed by John Singer Sargent and discussed it in detail. The father was enjoying their time together and the child was learning how to really look at art. She will grow up to be a museum-goer. It was lovely to see.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Inscribed Tree

 If you happen to be a tree growing along a popular walking path, you cannot escape. There are those who see your smooth bark as a surface for leaving some kind of mark. From the ground all the way to seven and a half feet up, the tree is covered in names, initials, numbers, hearts and even an emoji or two. Does the tree remind you of a person covered in tattoos? Most people choose their tattoos. The tree did not. I think farther back in history, to slaves with scars on their backs, also unable to escape. I placed my hand on the wounded bark, looked up at the golden leaves and tried, for just a minute, to feel the life that is still coursing through the tree.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Look Down

 In autumn, especially on a fine sunny day, we spend a lot of time looking up at the trees. The brilliant colors of the leaves are the stars of the show. Follow a leaf or two as it flutters down. How quickly those bright leaves fade to softer hues. The more subtle beauties of autumn are closer to our feet. I stopped to study a silvery tree stump, ringed with a collar of ruffled fungi. The pin oak and willow oak leaves will soon cover the stump. Time will work its magic. It all, eventually, becomes part of the earth.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Halloween In Ashland

 The Amtrak Auto Train rumbled north towards its final destination. As we approached Ashland, Virginia, the conductor slowed down and sent warning whistles into the morning air. The scrub trees gave way to graceful old Victorian homes painted green, lavender and peach, all facing the train tracks. Watching these carefully maintained houses slide by in the morning light is always the highlight of the trip for me. The town's big old trees sharing their annual display of orange and yellow leaves was an added bonus, but the residents shared another special treat: Halloween decorations!

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Bent But Not Broken

 Hurricane Ian roared through southwest Florida a couple of weeks ago. Tall slash pines shaded a nature trail that runs along a tributary of the Myakka River. The storm broke off or completely uprooted many of the trees. This one, like the last of the Ents in the Lord of the Rings, bends at the waist, woody arms sweeping over the debris. Will this tree survive? I don’t know. In some ways, it has seen too much that is terrifying and sad, just like the Ents, who waited and waited for the Ent wives to return.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Oak Leaf Hydrangea

 The shrub was the size of a small tree. It lorded over the corner. Hand-sized leaves reached out as I tried to navigate the sidewalk. Autumn was spreading its chosen palette of colors across the hydrangea: terra cotta, deep rose, burgundy and dulled-down reds. Cars rumbled by as I examined each leaf. Some still had green veins. Others had given themselves over to the reds. They were mapped with rivers and tributaries of browny-wine. A few holdouts deep inside the massive shrub were still summer-green. Their time would come.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Waiting For Kaffe Fassett

 This was just the front of the line. Friday evening, hundreds of quilters and knitters waited in the hallways leading to the auditorium where Kaffe Fassett would speak. They came early to purchase fabric in the Artistic Artifacts pop-up shop and contemplate the new Kaffe-embellished Berninas. Kaffe is a superstar. A painter who gradually explored knitting, needlepoint, mosaics and quilting, his fabrics, books and classes have revolutionized the world of quiltmaking. The quilts created from them are colorful, richly patterned and dramatic. Those of us who love them have been pushed to take chances, mixing prints of varying scales, adding colors that might  not be our favorites, learning how to use those colors and patterns to make the surface sing. The presentation was beautiful, funny and encouraging. It was more than worth the wait.