Little Joys- Signs of Spring

Garden Gnome keeps watch

I am not the only one watching for signs of Spring.

Celebrating the Earth

This year’s Spring vacation was actually a “stay-cation” and I couldn’t be happier.  I spent a glorious week noticing the daily subtle changes in my own backyard.  Every day is Earth Day to me and every moment of every day has it’s own, never-to-be-replicated beauty.  From a gathering of bluejays to a spectacular sunrise, blink and I miss it.  Gaia calls us to be fully present to experience her rich bounty.

Daffodils in my Garden

The daffodils in my garden lift their joyful heads to the sun.

I celebrate the early spring color palette with each new blossom and blade of grass.  Blink and I miss the brilliant yellow daffodils in my garden lift their joyful heads to the sun.  The yellow forsythias wave their arms in greeting.  The white, delicate lace flowers of the serviceberry act as a veil between me and the clear blue sky.  “Everything is holy now,” Peter Mayer wisely wrote.

A veil of serviceberry blossoms against the bright blue sky

“Everything is Holy now” wrote Peter Mayer.

Blink and I miss the yellows and whites make way for the purple of lilac and hyacinth and the delicate pinks of cherry and dogwood.  Each has it’s own cycle within the greater cycle of transformation that forms the wheel of the year.

Blink and I miss the little place in my garden where a rabbit is preparing a nest for her young.  One day, I noticed the mulch in a flowerbed pushed aside.  Soon, dried grass and straw appeared in a neat little pile.  Then, this little nest materialized.  As I write and look out my window, the nest is completely hidden from view by a mother who instinctively knows what to do for her young ones.  How much wiser would we be if we were more attuned to Nature?  What do we know that we have forgotten?

Rabbit mother prepares for birth

Mulch and soil are pushed aside as a mother rabbit prepares a place for her babies.

Ok, confession time.  At the time of the Winter Solstice, I hung a wreath by my front door.  Amazingly, it stayed perfectly green through December, January, February, and most of March.  I should have taken it down but procrastinated.  By the time I thought about it again, I noticed a bird flitting back and forth from the wreath to wherever she needed to go for food and… you guessed it… building material for her nest.  Well, what could I do?  The wreath is brown and brittle but she loved the location and gave birth to three wee ones.  When they fly the nest, I’ll toss the wreath.  I promise.

Mother bird chooses a safe place for raising her young.

A winter wreath becomes the birthplace of three birds.

Honoring the Earth

I could sit in reverence all day every day, observing the beings in my yard live, grow, and eventually die.  The cycle of birth-death-rebirth is the natural way of things.  I know.  But Mother Earth calls me to action.  It’s not enough to take, I must give back to stay in right relationship with Her.

I honor Her by vowing to be a steward of the land entrusted to me for as long as I live here.  Ancestors of bloodline and ancestors of place are with me as I cut back dead raspberry canes and clear the space around my grapevines.  I hear my grandfather’s voice echo in my heart, gifting me with his wisdom of flora and fauna.  I see the rainbow of jars in my grandmother’s root cellar- her connection to the land made visible.  I sense the presence of those who tended this plot of land long before “my people” even set foot on the shore of North America as immigrants in the early 20th century.

So I garden without herbicides and pesticides.  I hang prayer flags and make offerings.  I grab a lawn chair and my watercolors for a quick plein air session with the tulips and squirrels.  I pick up every bit of trash that blows into my yard.  It’s heartbreaking to see a birdnest with trash woven in among the grass, straw, and twigs.  I plant native species and compost as much as possible.  I do what I can the best I can.

Most importantly, I sit in silence and listen to her many voices– the wind, the rain, the birdsong, and my own contented sighs of belonging.  Call it prayer, call it meditation,… I call it CONNECTION.

Being in Relationship with Mother Earth

I love them all… all of the beings on our beautiful planet.  My view of “beings” has greatly expanded with my awareness of indigenous cultures and earth-centered traditions.  Trees, streams, oceans, plains, mountains, polar bears, glaciers, bees, wolves, … do you get where I’m going with this?  We are all connected.  All life is one.

I weep for the fact that we live in a time where we have to march to protect our planet.  In less than three centuries, we have littered the world with plastic, fossil fuel pollution, and chemicals.  We have killed more species than I can fathom- extinct, gone,…forever.  We continue to threaten all life with our choices and this breaks my heart but I’m hopeful that we are raising awareness and more of us are doing what we can to help the environment… for all of us…and I do mean ALL OF US.

I pray that we can educate and enlighten the ignorant.  I also pray that love, light, reverence, and stewardship quickly replace greed, hatred, destruction, and domination.  May we each do what we can to protect our home… our Mother.  I hope you take part in one of the marches around the world next Saturday.  Raise your voice for those who don’t have a voice.

Mother Earth, Mother Earth,

Take our seeds and give them birth.

Father Sun, gleam and glow,

‘Til the roots begin to grow.

Sister Rain, Sister Rain,

Shed your tears to swell the grain.

Brother Wind, breathe and blow,

Tell the blades so green to grow.

Earth and Sun, Wind and Rain

Bring to life the living grain.

Waldorf Song for Children (Writer Unknown)

 

 

 

Owl Walk

Seeing an owl in the wild has been on my “Bucket List” for years.  It’s these smaller obtainable dreams that make life worth living & I do everything I can to make them come true.

A local park offered an Owl Walk last Friday night so we took advantage of the mild January evening & set off for an adventure.  It was the perfect evening, clouds covered the moon & stars so the night was totally dark… & totally silent (even with little children in the group!).  With our voices mute, we heard Mother Nature talking to us through the babbling stream that ran along the trail & the whispering wind in the branches of maples & firs not yet heavy with snow.  I closed my eyes & imagined a time before street lights & headlights.  A time before the hum of electricity drowned out the voice of nature.

Our guide called out to the screech owls who might be hiding in the darkness.  It sounded like the whinnying of a horse but it worked!  A screech owl responded to our call.  The guide called again.  The owl called back, each time circling a bit closer, closer… until the guide clicked on his flashlight.  The surprised owl sat on a low-lying branch just feet from us.  A bit disappointed that we weren’t a potential mate (I can only imagine), he pushed off the branch, spread his silent wings, & disappeared into the night.  No one spoke.  I could only squeeze my boyfriend’s hand in amazement.  Magic.

The watercolor & ink sketch below is in homage to the owls, trying to live among humans in habitats that are ever-shrinking.  I hope one day soon, we see how much responsibility goes along with being human & begin to respect & love our earthly home as well as our extended animal & plant family.

Who is looking at whom?

Curious Screech Owl

Harvest Celebration

I absolutely love the cool, clear blue mornings of September that herald the coming of Autumn.  With my coffee mug in hand, I wander past my herbs to the vegetable patch & grape vines.  Blisters & sweat that created this garden are all but forgotten as I recall the taste of our first crisp green beans.  I laugh, remembering our pitiful attempt to keep birds off the blueberry bushes.  When I moved here, I prayed… I’ll provide food & protection for wildlife if you bless us all with a bountiful harvest.  Sometimes, it’s equal… sometimes the birds & rabbits get more 🙂  This year, no one went hungry & for that, I’m truly grateful.

September 23rd is the Autumnal Equinox, marking the beginning of harvest celebrations around the world (Mabon, Chuseok, & Thanksgiving to name a few).  As I grow spiritually, it’s difficult to celebrate Thanksgiving as it began around 1620 in the colonies.  Not a proud time in our nation’s history, if you know what I mean.  How can I give thanks in a way that’s meaningful today?

I’m grateful for my boyfriend who toiled in the soil with me,  the animals who pollinate & aerate, the friends & family who share my life, & my ancestors who taught me the basic truth, ‘Everything tastes better fresh from the garden.”  To show my gratitude, I’ll prepare a meal made of local foods, offer my thanks before we eat, & renew my vow to compost & garden organically.

What are you thankful for?  Show your gratitude for the Earth’s bounty by growing something to eat, even if it’s in a pot on a windowsill… no home is too small.  Whatever you do, make your harvest celebration meaningful for you & those you love.  Blessings!

Cows and Farms Inspire Me

I’ve always had a thing for cows, especially Holsteins.  I love the graphic black and white color from an artistic point of view but it’s their soulful eyes and moist pink noses that capture my heart.  I’m going to begin a new piece today with cows as my theme since I know the subjects that tug at my heartstrings make the best art.  As cliche as it sounds, art has to come from my heart.  If it’s forced, you’d know it.  I’ll share my work in progress soon.

For now, take a look at two of my recent farm collages– Pennsylvania Farm #1 and Pennsylvania Farm #2.  These pieces are in response to the knowledge that family-owned farms and farmland are being lost every day.  Don’t even get me started on developers, “progress”, and the almighty dollar!  Instead of focusing on the negative, I want to show the beauty of farms and pay tribute to this way of life.  Hopefully, my art will inspire others to protect agricultural areas and begin to shop locally 🙂   These are autumn and summer scenes respectively.

Pennsylvania Farm 1

Pennsylvania Farm II

It’s new to me!

Image

Welcome to Pure Susan.  This blog will be where I share my completed artwork & thoughts about nature & spirituality as well as get your feedback about works in progress.  My artwork was missing that certain something until I saw images of the animals affected by the BP Oil Disaster in 2010.  Talk about inspiration!  These gorgeous creatures deserve to live in peace but many humans have let them down.  I’d love for my art to change that.  My purpose is to inspire others to protect the environment and celebrate the beauty around us.   Finally, I feel my art has passion!!

Treasure in the Gulf is my first collage using a technique I began exploring last summer.  While I’ve had trouble parting with the original (it’s one of my “kids”, I’ll bet some of you feel that way about your creations, too), I’ve sold prints and notecards up and down the east coast.  Proceeds went to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in Jekyll Island for the rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles.  What do you think of him?  I haven’t figured out how to get the image to appear below instead of this link.  Any suggestions?