The Quiet Season

For those who love the quiet of winter:…”listen as the wind whips up high notes and whispers low ones…”

Source: The Quiet Season


The Quiet Season

You may think of winter as the busy season or the celebratory season and it is, but, I find winter to also be the quiet season.  Glorious fall makes way for the quiet of winter.  The trees have lost most of their leaves or have been laid bare.  A few trees still have the subtle golds and tans of late fall, especially on the beech trees and some russets on other trees.  The grasses in their golden finery shimmer in the breeze and the rest of the surrounding landscape is pared down to just the essentials. Everyone needs some quiet solitude and rest, even the flowers.

The color of the sky is also quiet.  A steel blue gray with touches of light lavender and occasionally patches of bright blue. The sky morphs into a mysterious silver color with warm and cool tones all at once and when the sun goes down the colors are deeper versions of blues and silvers with mauves mixed in.  Winter does bring some surprises such as all the berries that burst out as a cheery reminder for the songbirds to stick around a little while longer. The punctuations of these rich jewel tones against a snowy backdrop is lovely to happen upon, an energizing surprise to come across. The Red Twig Dogwood  bursts forth in the dead of winter probably to remind us nothing is one dimensional even in this season.  Winter is not colorless, it just seems to whisper instead of shout.  Winter also sings.  Listen as the wind whips up high notes and whispers low ones as it makes it’s way through the bare branches. It’s as if the winter wind finally has the last word.

I love  the varied brown tones that emerge after a plant’s greenery has died back.  Brown is not dull, it’s rich –  from a cafe au lait to pecan, or maple syrup to mahogany; these colors warm up a stark landscape. Go out for a walk and grab your camera, you would be surprised at what you can find in a winter landscape

Winter is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes I like to bundle up after a snow storm has settled and walk in the purity of the snow.  It’s only me, the snow and the sky.   It doesn’t get more pared down than this.  I like things simple. It clarifies things for me.

When I was in art school, the dead of winter would be my most creative time.  That was usually after the Christmas rush when there was really no expectations from anybody and nothing to do other than catch up on projects or dream about new ones.  The subtleness of winter lends itself to deeper explorations and thoughts.  I don’t get sad in the winter, I become very contented and open to new  ideas.  Here’s to winter and all it’s subtle beauties.

Daily Prompt: Elegant

via Daily Prompt: Elegant

Elegant…even the word sounds luxurious.  Elegant seems like a stretched out word, long and languid and in no hurry to get anywhere in particular.  If you think about it, what comes to mind when you think of fashion?  My first thought is of an elegant long evening gown.

The word elegant also conjures up the image of a very sleek Siamese cat or for that matter, a very sleek anything.   How about dinner in the city on a clear cold night. A room full of elegantly dressed strangers and a night full of possibilities.  The word elegant conjures up many images for me.

Gorgeous Gourds

Gourds are the oddities of the natural world.  They are actually a fruit in the cucurbitaceae family and part of the bigoniceae family which includes the Calabash Tree.  These fruits come into their own in the fall.  Their outrageous looks are unmistakeable at roadside stands.  Some of them are downright homely looking.  But they never fail to make me smile. Warty and wondrous, while some others are quite smooth and curvy, I often ponder on what mother nature was thinking when she created such fruits as these!  If they were people, they would be the independent child in the family who dances to her own unique song.  With speckles, stripes and blots of color, they are an artist’s dream  All swirvey lines and contours, running your hands over these alien looking fruits is sometimes like driving over an old rutted dirt road.

Open one, (I found a mormordica charantia the other day at a local arboretum) and they are a wonder of order and design.  This one was packed with rows of beautiful red, plump large raisin size seeds but without all the wrinkles.  The red color of the seeds was the color of birman rubies, a beautiful bright clear red.  The gourds had opened up on their own and I felt like I had discovered a secret treasure, and had entered a forbidden land.  They do come from exotic corners of the earth, but they can be grown just about anywhere that is sunny and dry. If you let them grow on the ground, their “necks” will curve and curl around, if hung from some type of support high above the ground you will get a gourd with an elongated neck.  Lovely to look at and quite practical, they are the unsung heroes of the fall garden.  Don’t forget the ugly-gorgeous gourds to welcome the fall/winter garden and your sense of wonder!

Lilies in Spring

The garden calls.  Every time I feel a warm breeze on my skin the garden muse whispers in my ear, “it’s time”, meaning the garden is singing it’s tantalizing song to me saying come look at me and me and don’t forget me!  Each flower, tree and shrub have their own special qualities.  So insistent, she comes back every year.  I gladly do her bidding because she does give me so much in return.

What more could an artist want than a room full of colors, textures, and an endless variety of shapes and sizes?  I will say instead of going to the big box garden centers, head on over to your neighborhood garden shop and explore all the possibilities.  I guarantee they are most grateful for your business.  The garden awaits.

Well Hello Spring!

Well Hello Spring!

Best Book I Have Read…In A Long Time

Hello fellow readers, I finished the best book I’ve read in a long time.  ‘The Underside of Joy” by Sere Prince Halverson.  I read this book in a very short period.  I just could not ignore this story.  There is an unremarkable start to the  book and then it careens almost to the point of being completely out of control. The antagonist in the book, Paige, is the ex-wife of the recently deceased Joseph.  She shows up at the funeral of her ex-husband like a polished piece of chrome, all shiny and new.  She is characterized as cold, impossibly beautiful and calculating.  Nothing could be further from the truth. and this will not be revealed until near the end of the book.  Her counterpart, the deceased ex’s new wife (widow) Ella Beene seems to be the anti-thesis of Paige.  Ella is completely down to earth and when married to Joe had taken the kids from the first marriage under her wing.  This book will show you how we are all precariously perched on a seesaw of delirious joy and deep despair. Without being preachy, this story shows how in an instant everything that you thought to be true was really just an illusion.   Even the seemingly simple character of Ella Beene is surprisingly complex and that was very true of all of the characters of this book.

This story underlines just how fragile our moorings in this life are whether it be to a spouse, a job, a child, a pet, whatever. People can be unspeakably cruel and incredibly selfless.  Both extremes of character are explored in this story.  We are just like the little sea whelk that is holding on fast to whatever it is attached to. Just when you think you are at your happiest, the fates roll in like a tsunami, stripping everything that you have known away.  This book teaches the lesson that sometimes things have to be stripped bare before they can be healed and restored.  The book is full of secrets and subplots that only come to the surface because the quintessential tsunami hit.  Don’t miss this book.

Fish in an underwater ballet by C. Smaletz

Fish in an underwater ballet by C. Smaletz

Don’t miss this story.

What is a Christmas Tree?

What is a Christmas Tree? It’s a memory tree, a tree full of time and places, people, pets, events, different homes (remember your first apartment?), relationships, births and deaths. In the glow of the Christmas tree lights, I am reminded of how many places I have been and the experiences I have had (good, bad or ugly) it doesn’t matter. I get one more day on this sweet earth to get it right. I like to keep the memories on the tree. My collection of ornaments spans decades. My most loved one is an abstract sparkle design on a rounded piece of faded red construction paper. I keep this ornament hidden away, but it does go up every year. My daughter made it when she was about six. Even then her affinity for glamour and all things beautiful was evident. Which always makes me smile. My mother (in law) made the most luxe christmas ornaments decked out in velvet, lace, sequins, pearls and glitter. Some of them look like the russian sputnik spaceships from the early sixties. My tastes run towards traditional glass ornaments from Poland or Germany, but, to tell you the truth I like the mix of my taste and everybody else’s.

When I look at a Christmas Tree, I am looking at a family history. Not only a family history, a history of friends. I have hand-made ornaments from friends and some are store-bought. Doesn’t matter, when I put them on the tree, I think of my friends. I see stories in these ornaments. I have one favorite ornament which is at least 47 years old. It is a green colored glass ornament with an elongated rounded diamond shape popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Long ago it sustained a melt mark from being too close to a string of those old-fashioned colorful christmas lights (the kind that don’t blink, but just glow). When I was a kid I used to think maybe this ornament just wanted to get close to those beautiful christmas lights. It always gets an honored spot on the front of the tree.

If you ever wanted to trace your family tree, you might want to start with the ornaments on your tree. “(hey, where’d that come from? Oh, yeah, that was the time we went to…)” These are perfect testaments to a time and place. It’s a way to honor the wonderful imperfections of being human just like that perfect but flawed christmas green diamond-shaped ornament. Keep the memories lit.

Tug Boat Kitties

I work in a large city down by a major u.s. river. My day job is not so rewarding but my walks around this building near the river are. Amid the rubble, and general gritty riverside atmosphere I find beautiful surprises. One day I went out for some fresh air I and I found a bunch of perfect miniature lemon yellow snapdragons growing by the docks. This was not carefully placed by a landscaper, but deposited on by a local avian inhabitant. Precisely because this place is not tame, I get to see this yellow jewel every year.

Because my place of employment is near high grasses and water, wildlife abounds. It’s fascinating to watch the birds, ducks and cats go about their daily business. In fact there is one very ambitious cat (all black and cross eyed) somewhere between kittenhood and adulthood who goes after this one crazy duck who seems to dare this cat to come after him I haven’t seen any dead ducks around – yet. Somehow the cats, birds and ducks survived one of the harshest winters I have ever experienced. I stopped counting the snowstorms after twelve and these were snow storms. Go down by the docks and it’s even colder. There were actual chunks of ice on the river. This is where the tugboat kitties live.

I discovered this tribe on one of my walks and decided to leave some food out for them. I don’t leave it out every day (four days out of seven) because I don’t ever want them to be too dependent on us humans. We are after all very unpredictable. Humans up and leave (for no apparent reason) These cats are semi tame: black, black and white tuxedos, grey, grey and white tuxedos and brown tabby striped. All with distinct personalities. You get to know the inhabitants where you work and live and these guys are no exception. There’s a few of us that come over to feed them and they know our cars. There is no such thing as a “dumb animal”. How dumb can a cat be if he knows your car and when to expect you? So, on a freezing cold day I decided I should feed them. Well, I’m not the only one. I found out the fisherman feeds them, the police officer feeds them on the weekends, a man from an industrial plant feeds them, I feed them in the afternoon and somebody else feeds them (from my office) in the early morning.

A few people have been saying catch them, vaccinate them and give them homes. Generally speaking, I’m for that and a few kittens have been caught and adopted out of the tribe, but this tribe is different. They seem content where they are. I am not in favor of abandoning any animal, but these cats may never have had a home aside from the area around the tugboats and docks. Is it fair to take them away from this place? I think they’re pretty contented. I say let them be. I’m sure they keep the rodent population down and for all their hard work the tugboat captains leave them with a fresh fish and shrimp on a regular basis. This is a highly evolved symbiotic relationship that is working. Should we alter this working relationship? I don’t think so.

What is it about fall that makes us rowdy? Leaves dancing all over the sidewalk, people walking with purpose, there is such a sense of urgency in the air. In the summer we stroll, in the fall we WALK. In the summer cats loll around in the oppressive heat and could care less about most goings on, in the fall they jump around like possessed happy maniacs.

I guess I feel like a possessed happy maniac with a need to expand my possibilities. Maybe it’s because we know we have this unique slice of perfect time where anything is possible. Feeling ambitious? Maybe it’s just those cool fall breezes whispering to your soul: “get to it!”