The Seasons Spinning ’round Again

After 59 years of life,  I decide to write about the seasons.  In doing so, I face the inevitable possibility that this post will be passed by for the seeming cliche of the colours, sounds and weather of it.  Do human beings ever get tired of the seasons?  The rituals and festivals that each season offers?

I spend a lot of time making observations of a single pond, the flats and the slopes that move onto those flats.  It’s not a large space in area, but it is just perfect for getting up close and noticing the life of it. Given the blessing of this repetitive experience, I am able to see the changes in the wildlife, water fowl, the plant life and the water.  The weather imposes its own impact on everything on the space, including my choice of dress, footwear and feeling about it.

With years passing, I’ve got to admit that a person DOES slow down and notice more and mayhaps appreciate the ‘beauty in the simple things’.

I remember requiring my students to keep ‘magic’ journals and it was evident that some of them despised the activity, maybe all of them despised the activity…but I told them to hold on to those journals…shove them in a drawer somewhere…pull them out years later and treasure them. I held onto any pages that some left behind as they bounced out the classroom, tearing toward summer vacation with wild abandon.  They wrote about the ‘stuff of life’…times that REALLY mattered.

DSC_1179 DSC_1178 DSC_1177 DSC_1176 ?????????? DSC_1174 DSC_1173 ?????????? DSC_1171Just like a friend can not insist and succeed at having their buddy quit smoking, there is no way that an adult can convince youth to slow down and take things in. (in truth, there is no way that an adult can convince other adults to slow down)  Life seems to be a rush.  Life seems to be about accomplishing more, making more, getting rich, becoming powerful, accumulating wealth and consuming.  This is all an illusion.  STOP.  Literally, smell the flowers.  If you STOP long enough to complete that gesture, the time it takes to smell a flower, you will have had time enough to utter, “A Huh” or to connect with something that truly counts…a connection with a memory or a connection with gratitude.

Taking pause is a gift.

I’m including a couple of photographs of the pond at Frank’s Flats that capture the seasons.  If I gaze out my kitchen window, I observe the very same story at a single sparrow’s nest.  In fact, just before the cold weather blew in for 2014, a male and female fledgling returned to their nest, Mr. and Mrs. long gone.  One does not have to travel far, in order to watch the seasons change.  This post is written as a dedication to my Uncle Bob, my father’s young brother who ,yesterday, passed from this earthly life, grew wings, and journeyed into the beauty of forever.  May his soul rest perpetually, in peace.

DSC_1162 DSC_1091 DSC_1043 ??????????Max and Dandelions 2I encourage my readers to find one place and return to it again and again.  Here you will find time to meditate/pray and to connect with what is really essential to a healthy spirit, body and life.

Circle by Harry Chapin

“All my life’s a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.

All my life’s a circle;
But I can’t tell you why;
Season’s spinning round again;
The years keep rollin’ by.

It seems like I’ve been here before;
I can’t remember when;
But I have this funny feeling;
That we’ll all be together again.

No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There’s no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.

Chorus:
I found you a thousand times;
I guess you done the same;
But then we lose each other;
It’s like a children’s game;

As I find you here again;
A thought runs through my mind;
Our love is like a circle;
Let’s go ’round one more time.

Gorilla House LIVE ART: September 4, 2013

There’s just something about making the anonymous – known.  There’s a lot to be said, also, for seeing the ‘special’ in the minute, seemingly-insignificant flotsam of  life.  Minutia is interesting to me…and I like the process of returning minutia to families who have long forgotten the connection they have with those particular objects.  All of a sudden, the object has tremendous meaning and represents something more.

I’ve sought out the family of Ruby J. Campbell.  I hold onto her bible for them.

I’ve looked for photographer, P. Mason and have not yet found him/her.

I have located the family of artist, John D. “Sam” Crawford and will return drawings to them.

I hold on to three grade seven letters written years ago; students of mine…Kearston Constable, Chad Gilmet and Adam Hunt.

Well…you get the picture.

Recently, I’ve located Jordan Bearshirt.  I began looking for Jordan in January of 2012, when I decided to put a new professional frame on his graphite drawing.  I commissioned Jordan when he was my grade nine student at Holy Cross School.  This was some thirty years ago.  I had read a stack of books about the great chiefs of the plains…and couldn’t stop thinking about the life of Chief Crowfoot.  My gaggle of Junior High art students were typical…but Jordan sat to the side at his art table…silent and absorbed…but, forever-drawing.  He told me that to draw Crowfoot, he would have to work at home, so one day after school, he left my classroom with a large piece of white bond paper.

A few days later, he came into the art room with the meticulous drawing completed, but it was rolled and its edges, tattered.  When he unrolled the piece, Crowfoot was impaled with a hole.  I looked at Jordan and back down at the detailed drawing.  “What happened, Jordan?”

“My young sister/brother (I forget this detail) poked it with a pencil.”

“Where were you working, Jordan?”

“On the carpet.”

So, there followed a chat with Jordan about quality and care.  I talked to him about mark making/surface/edges/ and paper.  When I think about the Gorilla House-experience, this actually brings a smile to my face…but, I’ll continue…and yes, I WILL eventually get back to the titled post, the subject being LIVE ART at the Gorilla House.

A few days later, I bought a piece of arches heavy weight paper…something I purchased at an art supply store and I drove over to Jordan’s house.  As I passed the paper to Jordan, I asked him to work at a desk or table as this piece would be really really important to me.  The piece that was completed was exceptional.

Chief Crowfoot by Jordan Bearshirt

Chief Crowfoot by Jordan Bearshirt

Upon my return to Calgary end of July, I learned that Jordan passed away just two days before my beautiful mother, on May 29.  It was three days after his 45th birthday.  From the moment I learned of this news, I knew that I must return the treasured drawing to his family.  This would be an object of great affection for them, as it has been for me all of these years.  On September 4, I was contacted after what seemed an epic search, by Jordan’s father, J. Bernard Bearshirt. I need to express gratitude to Morley Redwood for assisting in my search. On September 5, I would have opportunity to meet Bernard and give Jordan’s gift to his father.  I will write about that meeting another time…for now, the motivation for the painting I produced in two hours on Wednesday evening.

Somehow my work would be a testament to Jordan’s life. I decided to paint an unknown/little-known Blackfoot man.  I found an archive of museum-grade studio photographs and chose a man with strong features and dark beautiful eyes, Kat-O-Capee of 1900.   I printed off a quick reference at home, packed up my gear and off I headed for the Gorilla House.

Kat-O-Capee Vancouver Archives, Blackfoot Circa 1900I began by creating a fairly dramatic and monochrome background for the piece, using black and silver acrylic and allowing the paint to drip freely into the white gessoed surface of the bottom third.  I spent the last hour watching the portrait emerge.  I thank Rebecca and Dylan for bidding on the piece and thank Rebecca for purchasing the piece at auction.

P1120536 P1120539 P1120543Art/writing/music/dance/theater provide the human spirit a way of exploring the notion of and illusion of permanence.  We learn, however, that the creation, itself, is ephemeral.  The dance ends.

“It’s no great secret we’re built to attach to things. But at least part of the strength with which we form attachments is mediated by the mistaken belief that we’ll always have the things to which we’re attached just as they are, supported by the additional mistaken belief that our ability to keep them as they are is also within our control.”

The painting of Kat-O-Capee represents everything I am trying to say…about Jordan…about my mother…about the family bible and the letters left behind by students.  Here was a man posing in a studio for a photographer in the day…a man pulled out from his familial environment, cultural practice, family, life’s work…to sit for a formal photograph.  And here…over one hundred years later,  an artist has explored that face again and caused a whole number of people to feel ‘something’ about that face.  The painting can not last.  But what is ‘forever’ about everything is the ‘fire’ of creation…that moment of awakening…the spirit of interaction and of crossed paths…the circle that connects us.  God…Divine Creator…

All My Life’s a Circle

Autumn in the gardens…last night we saw our first frost.  The birds are busy at the feeder, trying to fatten up for the winter ahead.  The leaves of every plant are now curled into themselves and slumping downward.  The earth awaits a long sleep.

I look at my children and feel so aware of time moving at warp speed.  They are so beautiful.  I’ve been thinking about them so much today.

All My Life's a Circle
Harry Chapin

(Starts with 2 stanza chorus):

All my life's a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.

All my life's a circle;
But I can't tell you why;
Season's spinning round again;
The years keep rollin' by.

It seems like I've been here before;
I can't remember when;
But I have this funny feeling;
That we'll all be together again.
No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There's no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.

      Chorus:

I found you a thousand times;
I guess you done the same;
But then we lose each other;
It's like a children's game;

As I find you here again;
A thought runs through my mind;
Our love is like a circle;
Let's go 'round one more time.

Perceptions

I have spent so much time thinking about angels….but, second to that, I’ve thought about perceptions….of angels and other things.  I can’t fathom how some can’t see past the ephemeral bits of what surrounds them….or even the notion of ones own mortality….to see the everlasting and what is truly ‘forever’.  We are all caught up in an endless conversation about our desires, our needs and our hopes.  These, alone, are intangible and yet we are constantly rooted in our own longing. 
 
If indeed I sit on the point of a circle…  if every other being I have encountered in this ‘silly’ lifetime is also seated on that circle somewhere …if from the sky, a beautiful feather falls from a bird…perhaps an eagle  and flutters its way to the precise center of that circle… then…we will see that feather from an angle, our own angle.  Our perception of that feather can not be right or wrong…it can only BE.  We see that natural form through our own eyes….
 
If then, a concept such as politics or spirituality falls from the deep blue sky above….and then, settles itself into the center of the circle; is it not the same as the feather?  Are we not able to see the concept that reveals itself to us from our own point on the circle, however different that perception  from our neighbour’s?
 
I’m rambling….sigh…..but tonight I am thinking about the angles of angels!