Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dream Time

I've been thinking a lot about our summers as kids at a remote lake in Ontario. We only went there for 3 or 4 years but for all of us it was a magical time. Somehow this is so much a part of the Canadian myth, the rustic cottage, the cool velvet water, the gleam of stones, the water lilies in the boggy places, the sound of loons, watching the thunderstorms roll through. Most of our time was spent swimming and canoeing, building rafts and forts. But the strongest memory for me is watching the water, the pine trees edging the lake and the sky above. This I carry with me, a particular horizon.

At the lake 4, 2013

At the lake 5, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The pond is full of tadpoles this year, a banner crop so to speak. Schools of them trace the edges of the pond seeking out the sun. Some are beginning to develop their legs and some now push themselves to the surface to get a breath of air, beginning their transition from a water world. I had never seen this happen before, this learning how to adapt to their next environment. Quite wonderful, as is the huge numbers of them; it tells me the pond is healthy.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Humming Bird At The Door

covering the ground and bringing the azaleas down.
More rain.
Checking the damage in the gathering dusk,
Peony stems broken, iris flattened.

15 to 20 cm of snow forecast overnight with more rain,
Pond the highest we've ever seen, rivers and streams like spring run off.

A humming bird came to the door.

Snow falling on the pond

Alum bending under the weight of the snow


Sunday morning: The mountain is hidden by cloud and no snow on the ground.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dandelions...For Elie and Grace

Spent time yesterday lying on my stomach getting these photos. Nothing better that being a kid again, full of wonder of these simple plant who flower is the most vibrant yellow and then magically, overnight, the flowers become puffballs. These are such a fine system for the seed dispersal that it fills one with awe.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


The world seems a hard place right now. The news is depressing, violent acts of nature and mankind seem to vie with each other for top billing, and what I am wanting is more gentleness and kindness in the world. When spring is all about with its promise, I bury myself in the garden and studio and think about these words. Thanks Walt Pascoe for posting this poem. [Walt's website here]


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho 
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans 
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, 
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth. 

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and 
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

Prayer Flags, 2013

Tipping point, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Solomon's Seal

A tall graceful plant, great in the shade, with arching stems; and looks remarkably like lily of the valley on steroids. I brought some into the house thinking about it's name and wondering how it's common name Solomon's seal came into being, Maybe you can make tea from the roots that makes you as wise as Solomon, maybe eating the stocks as you would asparagus, the leaves...actually all are edible but the name comes from  the fact that the roots bear depressions which resemble royal seals. Another is that the cut roots resemble Hebrew characters. 

Solomon's seal, leaves

Solomon's seal, flowers

Solomon's seal, more leaves

It's finally raining, hello studio!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The New Emerges

Working in the new part of the garden I finally looked up and saw that the buds had burst on the Ruby Lace, standing at attention, hands in prayer. This is such a beautiful tree [link here], late to bud and every year I worry. The leaves open much the same way as a tree peony, upright and tightly curled about each other, only to open and bend backwards exposing them selves to the warmth of the sun. As the leaves mature they become a silver gray on the up side with a magenta glow on the bottom side. Such a beautiful tree, Gleditsia tri.inermis [Ruby Lace].

A portrait

leaves unfurling

caught in the wind

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


 All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you.

Chuck Close via Deborah Barlow in her blog Slow Muse

I had never read this part of of a longer quote and it came at the right time. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. I love this as I love to explore, to see what happens. I can get to caught up in wanting to get to the end of the exploring and actually start the work and then I sometimes remember these lines.

We shall not cease from exploration 
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time. 

T.S. Eliot -- "Little Gidding" (the last of his Four Quartets)

Here is some of yesterdays explorings of right angles and blocks of color

held , 2013

held 5, 2013

held 7, 2013

held 9, 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013


While the garden is in full apple blossom mode I want to plant even more apple trees, but I know I'm fickle and when the lilacs are out I want more lilacs. And when the peonies bloom the same thing happens. Such is the nature of my garden greed. The job list is growing, my body is tired, it's way cooler [hallelujah], and there is a chance of snow. Hmmm, I may get a few days off. I forget that gardening is an extreme sport!

Apple tree that my Mum gave me

Part of the new extension to the studio garden

Saturday, May 11, 2013


The garden smells of apple blossom. All of the apple tress have decided to bloom at once this year and where there is usually a stately progression from one tree to the next, this year they are having a orgy and so are the bees. Each tree is humming.

My sister gave me this crab apple years ago from her garden

A profusion of blossoms

My favourite narcissus, with the most divine smell

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Frequency of Blue

Spent the last few days rebuilding and extending stone walls, coming in to the house during the hottest part of the afternoon to play with color. I don't know what I am trying to do or where I am going with this but I do know I love the exploring. The "what happens if I do this". I have always wondered about color and sound and while I an not synesthesic I have had friends that were and I envied them their ability to hear the sounds of trees and leaves and sky.

A frequency of blue, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Up early to catch the first rays of sun light the trees and mountain. I forget the variety of color in the young leaves. The maples a soft rose, the ash a soft peach, the birch that young sweet green and the wild cherries with a white cloud of blossom. And every day I watch the colors creep up the mountain, while all about the house the woods fill in and everything has a haze about it. Late afternoon I take all of the light I been gathering outside and see what happens in the studio as I work on the color studies.

Sunrise, 2013

Sunday, May 5, 2013


First, small fuzzy knobs appear on the floor of the shady areas of the garden. The next time you look, they have legs, very hairy legs. And the next time you look the cocoon is splitting and green is emerging, folded into itself, pleated in a curve. I love watching these tiny, miraculous, impersonal bursting[s] into spring.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Spectacular Growth

It's been unseasonably warm the past few days and you can watch things grow in front of your eyes. When we walked Zoe the other night, the Horse Chestnut [Aesculus hippocastanum] had big fat buds and by morning they were starting to open. By afternoon they had opened and the flowers were forming. Truly wondrous.

Early morning light on the just opening leaves

The bud beginning to open

And the flowers beginning to form

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Maybe sidetracked is a better word to describe right now. Choosing the garden where I'm putting most of my time and energy, when I do come back to the studio it takes time to find my place again. Actually for the past few days I can't find that sweet spot and most of the work is in the trash. Makes me almost wish for a rainy day.

Glimpse 2, 2013