“The Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a single step”- Lao Tsu
This is one of my favorite quotes. It’s been a mantra for my life. I would add to that “keep going.”
Sitting down to a blank canvas or piece of paper can be daunting. Procrastination takes over. but it’s action that inspires creative energy not necessarily the other way around. Risk is inherent for a full life and with that risk comes failure. Any type of artist will tell you that you have to be willing to fail to learn. Just check out their recycle bins. Only their best work goes on display.
I just finished planting my native plant garden. It looks very sparse right now as the plants are still sleeping awaiting the arrival of spring. I’ve been rather awed by how this project manifested in relatively a short amount of time considering my lack of knowledge. Like the rest of my pursuits, it started with an idea followed by one action after another. I’m sure I have made some mistakes. So be it. Completion is my preference over perfection.
Commitment is a powerful force. The hardest part is starting and getting past the fear. I wrote this poem about it.
Refuge- it’s personal where one feels a sense of peace and security. In the last few years, numerous of my natural refuges have been destroyed by wildfires, development, and clearing for agriculture. There is no stopping it. Climate change marches on despite my best efforts. I live lightly, donate money, and write letters without the satisfaction of seeing much change. Thus I’ve taken to the one thing I do have control over which is my own backyard. I mean that in a literal sense.
I’m starting to take one section of my yard at a time and rewilding it by putting it into a native plant garden. I really don’t know what I am doing but thus far determination and a boatload of good advice have been enough despite my fears. It was a big deal to have a dump truck arrive and deposit 5 yards of soil in the middle of my driveway then the following week spend over a thousand dollars on native plants. Vison is a strong force when you act on it.
An excavator appears at the hazelnut orchard down at the corner. It begins to push the orderly rows of nut trees down effortlessly shoving their abused bodies into great piles- a mass grave of sort. After some acreage of trees is leveled, the towering piles are lit on fire. The fires burn on into the night, great tepees of combustion throwing sparks and smoke into the sky visible from my kitchen windows. It takes about 10 days to burn the five acres of trees to ash.
It was a scene of mass destruction like a battlefield – wisps of smoke dotting the landscape when the fighting was finally completed, the troops in retreat, the dead removed. All that remains now are tractor tracks crisscrossed in a field of ashen mud.
In the leafy months, the five acres of hazelnut trees offered a dark, cool refuge. Beneath their crowns, the soil was swept clean like a pioneer cabin dirt floor. Thus the orchard was an ideal place to play in the heat of mid-day. My young son would ride his bike among the trees while I walked the dogs off-leash. I would play hide-and-go-seek with them. The dogs would experience a moment of panic when they noticed me missing and then gallop back to proudly sniff out my still form hiding behind the trunk of a tree. On moonlit nights the orchard was especially good for spooky walks, the deep shadows creating mysterious passages to explore.
We were trespassing of course. The property belonged to a farmer who later I was told had the trees removed as they were diseased and well beyond their prime production years. They were his to take whether the neighbors grieved or not.
I sigh. The trees in that orchard had been steadfast neighbors for going on 30 years of my residence in this house. I miss them just as I miss the once quiet roads and the woodlands that have been cut down for the vineyards that now cover the rolling hills in their place.
Change follows me like a shadow that blocks the sun. It comes and goes at will through a door with no lock. The fires of the orchard’s demise still burn in my memory. Sky now meets ground unfettered where the orchard once stood. The hills in the distance are oddly naked. I light a candle at my table to keep myself steady.
Authors note: It’s been a time of great change these last few years for all of us. Covid, climate change, social and political divides have all taken a toll. Then there are the changes we face in our everyday life How do we cope? I write, meditate, make art, listen to music, and light a candle every evening.
Every now again, one of my doodles becomes the star of a greeting card- or even a zine. I’ve been making my own cards for years now and have found an amazing amount of material by mining my sketchbooks or my doodle journal. Animals, especially cats, are prime subjects but then I’ve also focused on teapots and Isosceles triangles. Anything can be copy in the right context.
Lately, a series of valentines morphed from my sketchbook. I decided to sell them to help fund the native plant garden that I just started in my yard. I took a design from my sketchbook, copied, cleaned it up, photographed it, put it into my graphics program, and then printed them four per sheet of paper. From there I cut them out and glued them onto good quality kraft paper card stock.
See them or even buy them on my Etsy site. You might be too late for next year (even though I can put a note from you inside and send them on) or be uber prepared for next year!