A year ago we were enjoying a different outdoor sculpture exhibition by the sea in Connecticut: Open Air 2022. This September we visited the 35th annual Sculpture in the Garden at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. It also features the work of local artists but it has many more installations! We didn’t even see all 86 of them but I am sharing a few of my favorites here. It was a lovely walk.
Because I’m so drawn to them I bought a little guide to dry plants in winter called Winter Weed Finder by Dorcas S. Miller, illustrated by Ellen Amendolara. It will be fun to learn about pods, capsules, siliques, calyxes, bracts and burrs.
I noticed how similar the shape of a cicada wing was to the shape of a maple seed. In this sculpture I decided to merge the two. The result is a subtly whimsical form that appears more delicate and fluid than the industrial rebar would seem to allow. I love the unexpected and even paradoxical result. ~ Sam Spiczka
My favorite sculpture is “Cicada Maple Seed.” Something about it captivated me; finding the figure hanging from a tree was an unanticipated pleasure. I’m also fond of maple seeds. You may remember how many pictures I post of them every spring!
Trees blossoming like nerves racing through the skin. Memories of angels with hand on cheek on a traveling cloud. Perceived like flocks of snow-white deer in full flight through my garden. ~ Astrid Hjertenæs Andersen (Seasons)
It seems that this winter has been a harsher one than average, a monotony of record low temperatures and record high amounts of snow. March came in like a lion. It must be a potent combination of cabin fever and mourning, but I still feel like I’m staggering around in a daze. Maybe it will go out like a lamb and things will settle down for a time.
Grief distracts is strange ways. There’s the usual opening of the refrigerator to get something out of the microwave, but then there’s the trying to deposit a check stub when I meant to deposit the check itself. Cracking an egg into the sink instead of the bowl. I’m starting to wonder if I’m permanently altered. If adorable Zoë wasn’t waking me up each morning for her breakfast of trout and eggs, I wonder if I’d even bother getting out of bed.
For the life of me I cannot figure out why we decided to go to a cemetery to take pictures last weekend. We just had to get out of the house and it was the only thing we could think of doing outside. Elm Grove Cemetery borders the Mystic River and the wind off the river was biting and icy. My fingers weren’t cooperating they felt so raw.
But I noticed a theme as I got in and out of the car to warm up. I was looking up at the sky and the trees and the way they framed some of the tall monuments. Breathtaking beauty. There was another theme, too, but that will be for another post…
There were a couple of poignant scenes close to the ground, too. Perhaps this flag has been weathering the winter since Veterans Day.
Our lives have taken on a surreal quality, a numbness, in recent weeks. Tim’s brother Toby is now living with us, and sadly, has been diagnosed with incurable bladder cancer. A few days after receiving this devastating news, we were stunned to hear that Tim’s cousin has also been diagnosed with an incurable brain cancer. Radical treatments will buy them both a little time, but how much is uncertain. This is all so uncomfortably familiar, having lost three of our middle-aged parents to cancer when we were young adults. And yet, this is now all so terribly new to us, cancer striking our generation for the first time. Insidious, unrelenting, cruel…
Zoë has been wonderful company for me – I’m thinking of getting a cat harness and leash for her so she can come out into the garden with me. She seems rambunctious enough to enjoy an outdoor adventure. 🙂 Toby is doing angelic things in my garden – he loves gardening and it gives him something satisfying and distracting to do between medical appointments. And Scarby has been wonderful company for Tim – she is coming out of hiding more often and enjoys sitting on the cat tree to look out the window and soak up the sun. She often sits on his desk and watches him work.
The other day I sent Tim a link to an article, how to calculate tree height using a smartphone. And then, Voilà!!! Mr. Logic found the app and used it on our next visit to my tree! He determined that my tree is 60 feet tall! (That’s about 18 meters tall for those of you on the metric system.) An interesting bit of information to ponder, since I still cannot see the shape of its leaves just yet.
Janet and I took a train to New York City. We met Larisa at Penn Station and went shopping in the fabric district for material for her wedding dress! She is sewing it herself with a little help from her friends. Seeing her drape the different shades of purple fabric over her body to see which one she liked best, well, they were some of the happiest moments in my life. My lovely daughter is going to be a stunning bride in just a little over a month!
Bella, an adventurous world-traveling faerie, changed her name to Kat-Sura after visiting the famous garden in Japan. So enamored with Japanese culture that she returned and built a Japanese-style faerie house complete with tea house and stroll garden. A leader of the faerie community, Kat-Sura invites all the faeries to stroll (or flutter) through her Japanese garden to learn about the plants. They also experience a tea ceremony in her tea house. ~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making
If we opened our minds to enjoyment, we might find tranquil pleasures spread about us on every side. We might live with the angels that visit us on every sunbeam, and sit with the fairies who wait on every flower. ~ Samuel Smiles (Thrift: Or How to Get On in the World)
Oh my! Hurricane Sandy is coming up the coast from the south, there is another early winter storm approaching from the west (remember the Halloween Nor’easter last year?), and arctic air is rushing down from the north, and some meteorologists are telling us to brace ourselves for another “perfect storm.” Remember the one in 1991???
And so the excitement begins – Sandy’s going this way, no, she’s going that way! Where will she make landfall? Will she still be a hurricane when she gets here? On Monday “something” will be happening here on the Connecticut shoreline. So will she threaten our son and his family in Georgia on her way up here?
My sister called this morning wanting to know what our plans are. I worry about them up there in the woods surrounded by trees that might fall on the house. She worries about us down here by the sound and vulnerable to the storm surge. We know where to find higher ground, though, and the evacuation plan is in place should it be needed.
There’s concern over the full moon on Monday, and how it will pull even more water into Long Island Sound and cause major coastal flooding and beach erosion.
I love storms, as long as they don’t get too exciting. We will go out tonight and stock up on bottled water, peanut butter and crackers and canned sardines, just in case. And we’ll be keeping our eyes on all the weather reports!
Tym-Brrr is the faerie of tree stumps and dead wood, a subject often depicted in the foreground of landscape paintings. Twisted and broken trees suggest the awesome power of nature; the aftermath of a lightning storm or strong winds. Tree stumps, on the other hand, humanize an otherwise wild scene. Tym-Brr eats and plays in one cave, sleeps in another, and stores his sailboat for seeking out driftwood in the third. Clues to how trees become “never green” are burned into the outer walls. ~ Wee Faerie Village: Land of Picture Making
Fairies are invisible and inaudible like angels. But their magic sparkles in nature. ~ Lynn Holland (A Faerie Treasury)
Earlier this year I read an utterly fascinating book, A Time for Everything, a historical fiction by multiple award-winning Norwegian author Karl O. Knausgård, a story unlike any I’ve ever read before. This is how the publisher describes his most unusual story:
Antinous Bellori, a boy of eleven, loses his way in the woods in the mountains behind his home. Unseen, he stumbles upon two glowing beings, an event that leads him to devote the rest of his life to the study of angels. Bellori reinterprets moments throughout the Bible where men confront angels: the expulsion from the garden, Cain and Abel, Lot in Sodom, Noah’s isolation before the flood, Ezekiel’s visions. . . . Through his profound glimpses, Karl Knausgaard—an extraordinary storyteller and thinker—explores with spellbinding insight how the nature and roles of these intermediaries between man and the divine have shifted throughout history.
If I had to sum it up in a sentence I would say it is about the nature and evolution of angels and what day-to-day life might have been like for the various Bible characters mentioned above. And without spoiling the story, if you want to read it, I will just say that after reading it I will never look at seagulls quite the same way again.
Saturday evening we went down to the beach for a hot dog and a sunset. As the various seagulls came by to see if we were offering to share any of our food — we weren’t, it’s not good for them, or us, for that matter — I studied them closely and kept asking them if it was true, what Knausgård says of them. Tim kept reminding me it was fiction. He doesn’t yet appreciate the power of this amazing storyteller, nor will he unless he reads it for himself. But he probably won’t because I’ve chewed his ear off about it for a couple of months now! The seagulls only looked at me as if the question I was asking them was far too personal and none of my business.
While I was busy photographing the uncooperative beings an alluring schooner appeared on the horizon. I’m pretty sure it was the Mystic Whaler. We watched her approach to the Thames River, spellbound. Many years ago my aunt and I sailed on her for a two-night cruise to Block Island…
There were other boats around, too. The Hel-Cat II, with the dubious distinction of being New England’s largest party fishing boat. Sport fishing, that is. And on board there was a party well under way, even before she reached Long Island Sound, music and revelry blaring across the water…
Then there was the ferry, coming in from Long Island…
And then a smaller sailboat appeared, hugging the shore, stirring up memories for Tim of sailing with his brother in Provincetown Harbor and Chesapeake Bay.
As the sailboat approached New London Harbor Lighthouse, across the Thames River, the light came on for the evening, “three seconds white alternating with three seconds darkness, with red sector.”
And then the little sailboat passed by the setting sun. Sweet dreams, dear sailors!
After sunset, on the way home, we saw an amazing sight, a flock of about two dozen great egrets resting in the trees in the middle of the salt marsh, seemingly all spread out to be equidistant from each other, so far apart they wouldn’t all fit in one picture… At first glance we thought someone had draped white cloths on the trees. The pictures are disappointing…
But it was a sight to behold and a surprise ending to a lovely evening!
Some believe seagulls embody the souls of sailors lost at sea. Karl Ove Knausgård has some other ideas…