TRIUMPH OF SPIRIT IN LOVE, NATURE & ART

Winter Trees

Winter Scenes, Millbrook, New York


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Welcome to samples of my work in various art forms showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.

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When the Snows Come


My husband and I sit in our living room with all the little still-intact dairy barn windows showing flakes falling as if we are on ship at sea in a snowfall.  Except for the high ceiling the living room has the feeling of a ship cabin, our converted dairy barn, and I think it is most beautiful when the snow is falling.

The glass doors at the pentagon of the far end of the barn gives us perfect view of the suet bird feeder.  We only feed the birds suet in winter because in summer a fat raccoon comes and eats the whole suet cake in one sitting.  The bird feeder in winter is our television.  We watch male cardinals, bright red in the stark white, feed and contend with the beautiful, bullying blue jays.  And the more modest and gentle little juncos and sparrows touch our hearts with their humility.

One winter, when the snow had covered the ground for a month or so and turned to solid ice we watched horrified as squirrels clawed at the feeder and fought with one another for a chance to feed making their shrill cries of territoriality.  That hasn’t happened since and we think the ground was too frozen for them to retrieve the nuts and such that they buried in the fall and they were fighting off starvation.

Waking up in the morning there is no need for a weather report as we see the snow piled high on the surrounding trees and we see the sky through the second story doorway in the barn where they used to bring hay inside, now a cathedral window in our bedroom. The thermometer in the former hay loft tells us how cold it is though we can feel how chill the air is. It is great to wake up to see the squirrels running along the limbs of the trees, cleaning off the heavy snow.  They seem friskiest just aftter a snowfall.

And if we are lucky and the snow is deep enough we get out our snow shoes and climb up the hill behind our little barn to what we were once told was a Christian Indian burial ground.  There are no markers left but the spot has the air of the sacred and it affords a small view of the Catskills in winter. High on the hill overlooking the valley, it seems a perfect place for a burial ground.  The snowfall makes it easier to walk the hill which in the summer is too full of saplings and underbrush to be able to walk the “meadow” as we call it.  We only get it brush hog mowed once a year.

Our property does not include the entire meadow but on our half of the meadow there is a squat fir tree there which provides a great shelter for deer in a storm and the deer love the meadow. There are a few blown over trees.  And as we snow shoe we see all kinds of animal tracks which we attempt to identify.  And animal shelters from the harsh elements.

Like many barns, ours was built near the road so we do get some traffic noise.  But in the meadow we are far removed from the road and its bustle.  And when it snows, it is so beautiful in the quiet, looking at the animal tracks and feeling the spirits in the graveyard.  Our secret little piece of Paradise.  And to stand there in the silence, in the virgin white, and see the abstract patterns of the snow on the surrounding hundreds of trees is divine.

Welcome to samples of my writing and art work showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.


BEINGS OF LIGHT


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December is my favorite time of year.  In this the month of darkness, in this the darkest month, the light of the human spirit shines forth in a fullness shown by so many, in so many ways.  As the days grow shorter in North America, houses and trees are decorated, and snow falls.  In the hushed silence of the nights, lights shine in windows, and the beauty is shared by passersby.  For this season of giving brings the festivals of lights: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza.  Each tradition incorporates light in its ceremonies and decorations.   

An animal friend who lived down the road, a donkey in his stable, reminded me of the story of another manger over 2000 years ago.  And seeing him snug in his stable with snow on the ground gave the illusion that all was right in the world.  But all was not well and all is not right now. Thousands know no peace in any season. Millions are cold and starving.  Racism and religious wars prevail.  Climate change advances in leaps and bounds, faster than most predicted.

Those who live closer to the land are especially blessed.  They share their lives with animals who are constant reminders of humility and simplicity in this rapid, complex, multi-tasking world. They can drive around on a December night and see houses covered in lights with illuminated trees, houses warmed by fires, imagining them filled with laughter and conversation and love, and feel blessed.  Blessed to have so much when others have so little.  Blessed to be able to celebrate as they wish when others cannot. 

Yet even those living in the worst conditions show the light of the human spirit and celebrate the season of light in personal ways.  For the human spirit is indomitable.

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Einstein said: “A human being is part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe”– a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest– a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  We are all cut from the same cloth and our inner light unites us.

In December’s darkness we light lights.  For we are beings of light.  A light glows within each one of us. And, at the most basic level, we are all beings of light because we are made from stardust.  Perhaps that is why the stars hold such majesty for us– we are all– Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist– whatever– we are all made from star material.

And in this holiday season we behold the night sky as Christians say shepherds did over two thousand years ago on the birth of the holy infant, in a stable like the one down the road. On that night they say a star lit the whole sky to guide the shepherds to the stable of the infant, Jesus, the son of God.   

In these deep, long, silent nights as we light our houses, our candles, our trees, let us look inside and try to find the glow that may guide us each, alone but intrinsically one, to the LIGHT!

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Welcome to samples of my writing and art work showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.


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JOY * PEACE * LOVE


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Welcome to samples of my writing and art work showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.”  “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.



The Trees of Late Fall & the Promise of Winter


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Bontecou Lake Swamp, Millbrook, New York

Every year what budded in autumn blossoms full blown in the weeks before official winter– my love affair with trees. Trees that were drop-dead gorgeous in their fall colors are now bare, with the exception of evergreens and a few stray deciduous trees that refuse to relinquish their leaves. Now the trees are stripped down to their souls and their souls sing a siren song to the universe.

The tops of trees lift my spirit; brushlike they paint the sky the baby pinks and blues of mornings, and the majestic magentas and violets of day’s end. Each tree has its signature shape against the sky, like a fingerprint or a snowflake, similar yet each unique. Some treetops in their bare state are shaped like a fancy coiffure; others look like wrought iron filigree. On distant mountains, against the snowy ground, some look like stubble on an old man’s unshaven face.

It is the cold, colorful pre-winter sky showing through, and showing off, the bare branches that woos me. The bare curvaceous branches are stark, dark lines against the bright of day and the inky sky of night. These resplendent creatures are living lines that explode. Branches tangle like the lines in a Jackson Pollock painting. Others curve in the sensuous lines of a Brancusi sculpture. Buxom tree trunks stand strong surrounded by their colorful, dead blossoms amid the ground cover and their burgeoning berries, the offspring of a Renaissance Madonna. In truth these trees are not like art at all. Rather art imitates them– their beauty provides the timeless inspiration for artists, writers and poets of all ages and styles.

Trees not only inspire, they themselves are paragons of diversity. One look out of a car window while driving on the Taconic and one can see squat pines alongside towering majestic firs, birches interspersed with maple and oak. And together the different brown and tan barks interspersed with evergreens create not only a mosaic of contrasting colors, but display an example to inspire humans to live together in peaceful unity.

These beneficent beings carry the heavy, dark grey clouds of winter. When it snows the tree trunks become canvases for the abstract patterns of windblown-snow, while the serpentine branches are outlined in white. In ice storms their branches become chandeliers, each enveloped in glassine ice. While in the melancholy of a winter rain, the branches become oiled skins of snakes weeping to the ground below. And finally, in the night sky, the branches hold the stars in their arms, those with leaves holding them in their hands, as they nurse the moon.

All trees, no matter what their species, age or height, stand tall in proud humility, their arms reaching up to the Heavens to our Creator in prayer– soft-spoken beings of peace and tranquility towering over us, while we wee, little creatures race around distractedly below.

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Hammond Road, Millbrook, NY