The Memories of Trees

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“Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.”  Henry Ford

We burn wood for heat during the chilly months in Oregon.  There is a shiny red wood stove in the middle of our kitchen that, as I write, has a fire that is burning bright, warming our home.  Stacks of cordwood are out by the barn,  Some wood we cut and split ourselves, other we have delivered.

During my years in Alaska, I developed an appreciation of firewood.  I loved the fall ritual of taking the truck out on frosty days with chainsaw and axe.  Having stacks of wood in the yard is a bank account of sorts.  I feel secure when there is at least 2 cords for the winter in the yard

A couple of years ago we noticed that the old walnut trees on our property were showing signs of rot and becoming a hazard.  I mourned when they were taken down.  Onewood-1246276_1920 especially held many memories. The tree was a shady oasis that was we enjoyed in the hot summer months.  It was, split, stacked and became cordwood that kept us warm for two winters- its second gift to us.

This poem is for that tree…

 

A TREE MEMORY

The fire burned hot

the memories of the stately tree wafting skyward

up through the chimney

to eternity

A century of shade and thousands of nuts

gathered by humans, squirrels & birds

is no longer

 

Farmers planted the tree

an English walnut grafted onto black walnut rootstock

finally yielded to its dark cousin

It stood the comings and goings

of several families

including my own

 

On lazy summer afternoons

my little boy would swing on a tire

suspended on a rope from a thick limb,

or splash in a blue plastic wading pool

Under its drooping canopy

 

Its fate?

the rot of aging

turned asset to hazard

The tree tumbled earthward to the whine of a chainsaw

 

What remained?

A huge stump and stacks of firewood

waiting to feed the woodstove

 

After two years my sorrow has dissipated

Two young saplings replaced the tree

Light fills the spot where it once stood

I stand close to the fire on cold winter days

reveling in its warmth

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The Power of Song

“If I cannot fly, let me sing.” bird-1295782
― Stephen Sondheim

I’ve always loved to sing.  In elementary school in my babyboomer upbringing, we always started the day with songs.  They were usually patriotic in nature – “My Country Tis of Thee” or “Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies” sung with heart with our bird-like voices.  Then there was nothing like those fun songs I learned at summer camp.

As an adult, I have had to hunt for places to sing (other than the shower).  Music has become more of a spectator sport in our culture, a solitary experience of earbuds, or just reserved for churches. How lucky I was when a women’s choir started up six years ago within a driveable distance of my rural home.  Every Tuesday night my friend Linda and I drive to 12 miles to McMinnville for practice.  It’s work and fun at the same time.  We are a community of women282317_511742425540716_64206684_n united in our voices.

There have been studies done on the mental and physical health benefits of singing in a choir.  There is something truly healing by breathing and weaving our voice in with a group of other people.  Singing unites us.  I can gift to others with my voice and it helps chase away the holiday blues.  536859_614248591956765_2135004792_n

The culmination of our efforts is our winter concerts.  All the worries of mistakes float away.  We walk into the hall, confident, our voices blending in beautiful harmonies facing our audience and sharing our songs.  I revel when I see eyes close, smiles on faces, and even a tears running Choir Ballyvaugndown cheeks.

 

 

 

 

CONCERT

Alto

Third row

Middle

Practice behind me

Audience before me

The piano preludes

The conductor cues

Now our voices pour from our hearts

Wrapping all in a harmonious cloud

Eyes closed

The splendor of song filling the room

Infusing our souls

And those before us
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“Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.” 
― E.Y. Harburg

For Those That Travel the Creative Path

I came across this lovely prose by Charlotte Eriksson as I perused the Goodreads website today. There is no title and is probably an excerpt from an essay. It is so appropriate for any one who is traveling the creative path…..

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“… so this is for us.
This is for us who sing, write, dance, act, study, run and love
and this is for doing it even if no one will ever know
because the beauty is in the act of doing it.
Not what it can lead to.
This is for the times I lose myself while writing, singing, playing
and no one is around and they will never know
but I will forever remember
and that shines brighter than any praise or fame or glory I will ever have,
and this is for you who write or play or read or sing
by yourself with the light off and door closed
when the world is asleep and the stars are aligned
and maybe no one will ever hear it
or read your words
or know your thoughts
but it doesn’t make it less glorious.
It makes it ethereal. Mysterious.
Infinite.
For it belongs to you and whatever God or spirit you believe in
and only you can decide how much it meant
and means
and will forever mean
and other people will experience it too
through you.
Through your spirit. Through the way you talk.
Through the way you walk and love and laugh and care
and I never meant to write this long
but what I want to say is:
Don’t try to present your art by making other people read or hear or see or touch it; make them feel it. Wear your art like your heart on your sleeve and keep it alive by making people feel a little better. Feel a little lighter. Create art in order for yourself to become yourself
and let your very existence be your song, your poem, your story.
Let your very identity be your book.
Let the way people say your name sound like the sweetest melody.

So go create. Take photographs in the wood, run alone in the rain and sing your heart out high up on a mountain
where no one will ever hear
and your very existence will be the most hypnotising scar.
Make your life be your art
and you will never be forgotten.”

― Charlotte Eriksson

WordPress Photo Challenge: “Cheeky” Loose Hens

Nothing like a couple of seasoned old gals turned loose on our 2017 Irish adventure.  I’m on the left with my friend Deb.  In our sixties and getting cheekier every day!

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Cheeky

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – “The Serenity of Tea”

It’s not always possible to escape to beautiful places in nature to find serenity.  In winter I find serenity with a good book and a nice a cup of nice tea in the comfort of my own home.  (Actually these photos were taken last summer in Ireland.  The cottage looked so serene I took this photo- but I do love a nice “cuppa”)IMG_0900

 

 

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Serene

The Power of Play, the Power of Clay

IMG_0003My last show is done for the year and perhaps indefinitely.  I am relieved to return to my ceramics studio without the stress of deadlines.  It’s playtime!

There is so much value in play.  I’m talking about for children as well as adults.  Taking time to play in an art form gives that other part of our brain a rest that worries and analyzes so our spirits can be released.  Unfortunately, our culture undervalues play in favor of productivity. As our schools have stripped theeducation-1814187_1920 arts from their curriculums in favor of core subjects, the population is becoming culturally illiterate, more plugged in, and more isolated.

hand-845269_1920Clay is one medium that immediately can turn adults into kids again and turn kids into kids again.  It’s tactile, versatile, and gives immediate satisfaction. If you need more play in your life, consider taking a ceramics class.  Enjoy the satisfaction of playing in mud again.  I wish everyone had access to clay. The world would be a better place.

Hands in Clay

When my hands touch clay

I lose myself

Deep in the soft, smooth sensation of mud

Sliding between my fingers

 

When my hands touch clay

I am a child at play

With infinite possibilities

 

When my hands touch clay

I become the earth

 

When my hands touch clay

I am Navaho, Pueblo, African, Asian, Aborigine

And of the ancient ones

Sharing the spirit of creation

Hidden in the clay

Waiting to be born

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Celebrating Thanksgiving 2017

Thadinner-1060352_1280nksgiving is my favorite holiday in the U.S.  For the most part, it has escaped the commercialization of the other holidays.  We gather, share a feast, and give thanks. What’s not to like?  It’s been a tenuous year in our country and abroad, but tomorrow, let’s just forget about it and enjoy the day.  All the best to you and yours.

A Poem for Thanksgiving 2017

Come in and have a seat at the table

Ye pilgrims of life

Leave the troubles of the world and your worries

At the door like soiled shoes

 

Greet your people

Inhale the aromas and

Marvel at the glory of a feast

Prepared by loving hands

 

Before we raise our forks

Let us pause, join hands and have gratitude

Celebrating all that we have

And all that is possible

 

For we are still here

Friends and family at the table

Together

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