I woke up this morning to a deep quiet outside my window. The window was open a few inches (I like sleeping with cold air on my face.) Most mornings, even as late as yesterday morning, I awake to the chatter of tiny songbirds in the lilacs just outside. This morning all was silent.
I looked up at the sky. Gray-blue. Little humps of snow covered the lilacs. Soft. Bare of leaves. And oh — the branches! The black brush stroke branches against a hundred shades of white snow! I knew my palette was going to change overnight. Just. Like. That. At least for one or two paintings. Black and white. Simple. Distilled to the essence of pattern. Calligraphic strokes against a pale plain sky.
I had the wonderful and memorable privilege three years ago today, to participate in a wedding ceremony of a very dear friend and young woman whom I already loved and respected, but whom I have grown to love even more over the years. Oddly enough, she left shortly after the wedding to live in Chile with her new husband and daughter and I have not seen her since then. I miss her mightily. So do lots of other people who saw her through some trying times, and helped her learn and grow into the amazing superhero mother-wife-woman she is today.
This is a young lady who endured some of the worst childhood trauma I can imagine, yet whose heart keeps expanding wider and wider — like a perpetually blooming rose. She is beautiful although she sometimes thinks she is not (don’t we all go through that?) She is a loving, attentive mother with a strong bond to her child. She loves her husband with all her being, and she knows what it meant that day when she promised to love him through thick and thin.
I witnessed their marriage at the courthouse and helped them write their vows. Along with many other people who helped them both along the way, I talked to them about the things they’d stumble upon as the years go by. Money issues, cultural differences, language differences, child rearing philosophies, boredom, times of inequality, communication problems.
We all also reminded them to notice and look forward to JOYS that would be theirs because of their commitment.
Now, three years may not sound like a long time to some of my readers … but for this couple, as for any couple who marries in their teens, it is a great accomplishment. Today they celebrate three years of promise. Three years of growth. Three years of growing closer together in spite of differences in culture and language and upbringing. Three years of loving their daughter and being a family. And three years of welcoming others into their lives, of stretching their comfort zones and what they thought might be their limits.
So, Naomi and Cristian, I salute you for coming this far. I salute you for going beyond what you thought you were capable of. I honor and respect you for sticking with each other, for being kind to each other, for apologizing, for making repairs, for building a new life together, and for always. always. always remembering what brought you together for life.
Thank you to everyone who has become a collector of our art, who has come in to 1+1=1 Gallery to look, appreciate, help, buy, and just visit, get/give hugs. We couldn’t have done 11 months without you!
Now we are asking for your help and support again. This time we need cash flow to remodel our new gallery down the street.
Imagine one of my framed prints on a wall in your house … above the fireplace, in your dining room, or on a wall in your bedroom. Somewhere you can see it often, experience the symbolism and the personal meaning that only you get from living with a piece of art. Can you visualize it? Are you interested?
Now you can purchase one of my prints — for the month of September only — at a big discount. All of the framed numbered prints we have at our gallery (see thumbnails or Flickr album link below) are on sale — 20% off just through September 30, 2014.
The black stained all-wood frames are made by Tim Carney and professionally assembled by a local framer with glass, hanging hardware and archival mats.
We are moving at the end of September to a bigger, better space at 434 North Last Chance Gulch. After we move, prices have to go up because our rent and all of our expenses are increasing.
We take credit cards through Square and are willing to ship.
Come see the prints in person, at 1+1=1 Gallery, 335 North Last Chance Gulch.
Below are the available prints. We only have one of each on hand, so hurry! Please visit the above link to see more details.
Here are some pre-remodeling views of our new space:
1+1=1 will be open our usual hours until September 19th. After the 19th, we’ll have odd hours because I’ll be working with Tim (and whoever shows up to help) to remodel the new space. I can be reached by phone (431-9931) if you want to come shop at the gallery at 335 North Last Chance Gulch. I’d love to see you at either place. Or email me if you want to buy one of the prints. Thanks again for all of your support!
Hearing robins singing has always been my first sign of Spring.
We’ve tried to arrange for our shamanic study group to meet in Montana, our home-ground, for almost 20 years. Well, they came this spring! Yay! And I kinda think everybody pretty much fell in love with Montana’s beauty and wildness. Yellowstone Park, the Yellowstone River and Paradise Valley to be specific.
It’s been a long time since I have visited Paradise Valley and Yellowstone Park in springtime. Starting when my sons were little, we camped in Yellowstone but usually after school was out for the summer, or in the fall. I’d always heard about the incredible spring surge of baby wild mammals and birds there, but I’d never experienced that awesomeness until this retreat. Fall was always my favorite Montana season. I’ve changed my mind, though.
My new favorite season?Spring-near-Yellowstone. Yes. That is a season. Springtime-near-Yellowstone. Not just plain old Spring.
In early May, Mother Earth is waking up in the Yellowstone ecosystem. Waking up in a big way:
Her trees sure woke up — fast! In just a couple of days, before our eyes, the aspens and cottonwoods dressed their bare branches in mists of green, then fully clothed themselves in designer-leaf-garments.
As spring days grow warmer, Earth’s sacred waters awaken. Snow melts. Soft rains come. Rivers swell and fill their banks. The water covers sand bars, willow thickets and ancient boulders. Listen to the sound of a small stream feeding a big river and notice the beauty filling your heart:
During the night the land sleeps. Mists cover the bottom of Emigrant Peak in the Absaroka range. With sunrise, the clouds lift to reveal a snowy shawl on the mountain’s shoulders and, as the day warms, her shawl unravels into rivulets that feed the swollen river. Earth’s sacred waters take many forms.
Mother Earth is waking up with babies. Every kind of wild-fertile-life-explosion-of-exuberance baby: bison calves, wolf cubs, fox kits, fawns, elk calves, gopher kits. Eaglets, goslings, osprey chicks and kildeer chiclets. A hatch of mayflies and a hatch of trout fry, bunnies, ducklings, loonlets and grebelets.
Birds mate, nest and raise a brood. Or they just pass through, feeding all around us – energy for the journey.
A grebe mother floats by with a brood of grebelets on her back. Two of them are just behind, tucked up against her tail as close as they can be, in the wild, rising waters.
Yellow-headed blackbirds sing their water-in-the-throat-joy
Dusk brings the chortling call of sandhill cranes, their color that of deer, goose and fallow field
Canada geese stand on a snag midstream, high water all around them, calling their distress in not-quite-unison
White pelicans glide downriver — a silent line on invisible rolling air-hills
Mama eagle brings home a snake, then a rabbit, a duck, a fish — she’s a good provider
Nuthatch, woodpecker, chickadee, siskin, finch — the timbre of bird-song in a meadow swells to a symphony of beats, noise and vibrant texture
The cottonwood grove where we met around a fire, is alive with aspen-catkin-fluff dancing in the air to the rhythm of bird-song
Above our heads, baby gracklets (made-up-word-warning) strain their wobbly necks from a hole high in an old snag. Their begging calls must fill the parent birds with urgency — bring more bugs! Bring more bugs!
A red tailed hawk screams hoarsely from across the flooding river — an osprey answers at dusk
Our Earth is sacred. There are some places on Earth I can more easily feel and experience that sacredness. The Yellowstone ecosystem is one of those places for me. It is holy ground.
Just for fun, I found some recordings of some of the birds we saw and heard during our retreat. Listen here:
We stayed at River’s Bend Lodge and some cabins at Paradise Gateway, hosted by Carol and Pete Reed with help by their daughter-in-law, Holly. What a great place to stay — right on the river, surrounded by more wildlife than I’ve ever seen in one place. Thank you for opening your slice of Paradise to our group.
Yesterday we made a pilgrimage I’ve made a half dozen times before. We drove to Freezeout Lake near Fairfield, Montana, to witness the annual spring fly-out of a hundred thousand snow geese. Our road trip was short and easy compared to the birds’ many thousand-mile journey. All we had to do was get up at 4:30 am — a totally uncivilized time of day for me (*whine*) — and drive a couple of hours. The geese (up to a half million) weren’t even midway along in their migration from central California to Alaska and the Yukon. Before arriving at Freezeout, the massive flocks of geese had made a 15 to 18 hour non-stop flight. Now that’s a journey!
Imagine sitting in your car in dark. Waiting. It’s too cold and windy to wait outside. For now. The engine is running so you can keep your feet warm. You roll the window down and hear a far off murmur.
Just before dawn the sky barely lightens. The murmur resolves like a jazz chord, into low-pitched honks and calls. You sip your hot coffee … turn off the engine. You are quiet. The prairie is quiet.
Suddenly you feel a pounding downbeat as several thousand geese erupt from the water’s surface.
The mass of black dots becomes a cloud of white. Throngs of geese lift in unison, creating a huge black and white spiral. Smooth backs reflect the twilight. Then the flocks head towards you out of the western darkness.
They are directly overhead in just minutes. Jump out of the car and listen! The sound gives you shivers. So many voices!
Look up! Life’s artistry lifts your soul. Snow geese fly in formations that shift and flex — they are writing poetry in calligraphic lines across the sky.
The incredible sound of that many geese flying overhead … going somewhere … makes me feel so connected to life. The sky and the prairie are inside me, those sounds are in my heart and my soul … I am filled with longing. To go … to explore … to belong.
Last Saturday, the Holter Museum of Art held KidWorks! — it’s 23rd annual arts festival for kids. What a blast!! I had an amazing opportunity to help put on this fun event and boy was it alot of work. Yet, when we opened the doors of the museum at 10:00 am, just like Connie, Judy, Sondra and Hannah told me, the festival took care of itself. A gigantic bulldozer of little kids and and their significant adults moved through the museum playing, delighting, learning, appreciating, thoroughly enjoying themselves and getting a messy education in the wonderment of art.
For me — as a docent — it was incredibly fun (I hardly stopped smiling except when I was concentrating,) extremely exhausting (the tables were set to little kid height and my back hurt like hell at the end of the day) but so, so fulfilling to share my enthusiasm about art with this many kids and their peeps.
I absolutely loved witnessing the diversity of approaches. Every child, has a unique way of seeing the world and expressing what they see! As docents, we have to Let Go of Results and Outcomes. Allow Mess. Delight in Oops. Multi-task-yet-Focus. Smile. Laugh. Make Eye Contact. Then. Clean. Up.
Well … it seems at the Holter, “docent” is a fancy word for a volunteer who:
works really hard
has lots of fun with peers and with the public
stays longer than expected to clean up the mess
knows how to laugh and goof
loves to share his/her passion for the arts
gets training to use Visual Thinking Strategy in educational museum tours
has a lot of energy (enough to keep up with kids of all ages!)
has an awesome opportunity to guide kids, teens and adults in appreciating art through tours and hands-on activities
can think on her/his feet, improvising when necessary
doesn’t mind getting down and messy
knows that every individual’s experience and ideas are valid
helps organize and put on the biggest and best kids’ arts festival anywhere around
then watches the magic happen as our doors open to over 800 participants
that’s alot to pack into one 6-letter word!
The Holter docents I have the privilege to work with, are a diverse group: outgoing, intelligent, friendly and helpful to new members of the team. We are all willing to learn from our mistakes and educate ourselves continuously so we are the best “art guides” the Holter could possibly have. It helps that we have some docents who are great leaders — super organized and experienced. It also helps that the educational staff (Sondra, Aubrey and Hannah) are so enthusiastic about their jobs. I have about half of the skills I need, to be an amazing docent. I’m working on the rest. But boy, was it fun, fun fun to help make KidWorks! happen.
Sorry about the photo-intensive post today. I just couldn’t resist! There were so many sweet moments and precious connections made during KidWorks! that I can’t resist posting these. Below is a gallery with a few more images from the festival.
If you attended KidWorks, or volunteered at the festival, won’t you write a short (or long) comment to say how you experienced it? Thank you!
Helena, Montana is closing in on a record February snowfall. The winter of 1936 set that record. I’m not sure how much snow we’ve had so far this month (usually our driest month of the winter) but, since last Friday, at least 18 inches of snow has fallen outside our house.
Snow is good. The mountains need snow. The soil, the prairies and farms and trees and fish, the rivers and air and people. We all need this moisture and I will be glad of it in summer when the grasses are crisping and crackling. When wildfires do their roaring, racing, burning thing…
The older I get, the less patient I am with the inconveniences of Montana winters. But the colors! Those colors keep me interested!
I go on at least one walk a day, but I get so cold in my bones that it’s just not as much fun as it was when I was younger and (ahem… ummmm) hotter.
it takes a day like today:
wide open skies
not a single cloud
mist hanging close
to the frozen earth
it takes this kind of day
how many different blues are inside the cold
… how many
colors belong to white
You knew that.
So … I hope these images inspire you to take some time and get out into the cold. Bundle up. Stay out until just before the sun goes down so you can grab a little of that incredible light into your soul.
And look. Really look at the colors that surround you!
Those colors will still be inside you on a summer day that tops 100F. When all you want to do is stick your head in a freezer. When you are wishing for some of that of zero-degrees-cold.