Waxing Poetic

Oh February

_MG_6950 I can feel the return of the light. The sun arcs higher in the sky, and races in windows, spreading across rooms like a blanket thinner than air, sweet and clean and joyful. It slides in golden pools all afternoon, enticing us all to rush forth into it. But the light is cold; you can barely feel its touch on your skin. It's still too far away to be more than a bright vision in the afternoon. In a glorious distraction of gold and rose on the mountaintops, the light slips away. We are left to wander home in the dark, with wind prickling ears and fingers. The windows of houses at night are like warm chasms spilling light to their edges.

There is such yearning, hoping, reaching at this time of year. Such impatient anticipation of the unknown, a terrified hunger for the year to come, at once wide open and clutching tight. A sense of vast potential anchored by cold nights and icy sidewalks. Buds are knobbling naked branches, but still holding everything inside for longer days.

Emptiness is at odds with collected clutter and vying for my thoughts. Each year at this time, I question urgently the distance between doing what I love and this working, treading water. With the season also come urges to start fresh with a small suitcase and a clear mind in a new city. Some years, I let go of everything that I knew and that held me back, and move. Other times, I do my best to stay put and let restlessness pass through me. Spring is like a strong wind, demanding change. It cracks open resistance and scatters it, leveling out ruts and encouraging new pathways.

Oh February, all ice and cold and fragile hope. Once this wild, reckless beauty has blown all over and woken all of us indoors and underground to stirring, then comes the calm of mild days and little flowers cupping the early warmth.


a full month free from long scheduled days; more sky showing between tree branches

Sunwashed streets are whispering summer. The air outside is delicious today. A hint of a breeze lingers in high branches moving past sunning crows and rusty oak leaves. These and the glossy acorns on the ground remind me that it's November. The snowline is so close I could hike to it from here, and touch the bluish trees in their finely chiseled white coats. Inside, there are cats and coffee. Projects begun and projects that are but shapes in my head and scribbled notes.

I have neglected to write for so many reasons. Staying up late and waking tired, then sleeping more. Morning walks and the distraction of a good book (The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila). A lack of new studio endeavors that sound thrilling to the casual ear. I have been sewing, some. Ironing, lots. Printing a vivid orange swath of cotton from my onion skin dyepot and a lustrous straw coloured linen cloth that went into the onion skins after. I am experimenting with printing small line drawings - a dabbling in toiles that I have long considered, and am now working to incorperate into my usual freehand floral motifs. The walnut hulls are still lurking conspicuously in the kitchen. Each morning I strain out the dark liquid and add more water from my leftover onion skin bath, and heat the acrid sludge once more. I will keep at this until all the colour has been extracted or until I fill my largest dye vat. Both in efforts to increase the richness of colour and to hopefully overpower the strong walnut hull odor, I'm adding coffee grounds to the pot.

A full month free from long scheduled days has led to an interesting, though perhaps not surprising restructuring of my days. It turns out I'm useless in the morning at anything that disallows puttering. Afternoon and early evening are strong studio hours. A need for dinner and all things related inserts itself next, then the hours that follow tend to be productive and focused, but not always spent in the studio. Sometimes the household requires cookies, like the chocolate peppermint ones, but with orange extract instead of the mint. All of a sudden, the clock insists that it is very late and bed is essential if I really think I can wake up at seven thirty or eight. It's a rough life, arting full time. I'm going to miss it.

A few small truths: I wipe my fingers on my apron when I'm printing. I don't like to wear gloves. Back in school, I would come home splotched blue and yellow and red all the way up to my elbows. My favorite squeegee is a small plastic dough scraper. I don't even own a t-square and haven't done a registered repeat since the day I learned how. Sometimes I don't remember how I made the colours I get because I add things after I write it down. It is an intuitive process, this printing of mine.

We have had the pleasure, this November, of experiencing nearly every kind of weather. There have been rainy days, which are good for sewing, and glorious warm days where shortsleeves are an entirely reasonable wardrobe option, then some exciting wind that kept us up one night and blew leaves into a thicker carpet on the sidewalks and left more sky showing between tree branches. On Sunday morning, we woke up to snow falling thickly. (This required a bike ride down a slippery, steepish trail, squealing disc brakes cutting into the blanket of quiet in the forest.)

My studio month is wrapping up yet I feel like I've just begun the process of making art in a much more real sense. This will continue.