I love creative experiments and designing, but the plans for our move to warmer weather had barely been drafted when it happened, leaving me reeling as the suv slowed to a stop in South Carolina. There are days when the color of life in this new place is drawn from a rich dye, deep and having developed to its full potential. Some days, my head is barely above the froth and steam, reading a wishy washy shade of what-am-I-doing-here? Moves are notorious upsets, this one unraveling the shape of my identity.
Days can be up and down even when you stay in one place for a long time. We’re not the only ones (or things) on the move. But I need to set roots, however flimsy, as a point of reference for all the activity, in and out my head, as the next “home base” from which to launch. The colors show truer from a steady vantage point, good or bad.”
Number 9 is a small cottage that sits almost at the dead end of a curvy cul-de-sac, on a pie-shaped lawn, in front of the woods. The sun rises in my kitchen window and sets in my studio. My neighbors houses dot the road at neat intervals, next to and across from mine. And folks are friendly.
Four months have spun a routine of sorts. I wake to tropical bird sounds, wishing I knew more about birds. * I take my cup of coffee to my work desk, wishing it were easier to keep my daily journal promise. I wind floss to a bobbin for morning stitching, then sit a while with the needle, waiting for inspiration. Email, and sometimes take the dog out to a spot on the turn-around or through the “rabbit hole.”
I usually bring two bags. Yes, I pick up. You-know-what goes in one bag. And the other collects the booty of windfall that I use in my dyeing experiments. Spring has offered me a variety of surprises in Low Country – unfamiliar trees and shrubs (that I’m trying to learn the names of), and my recent discovery of two types of deciduous oaks, wild roses and a fabulous cache of fern.. I’ve picked up fuchsia poly-noses as winter ended, and now a prolific maple shares its leaves.
My neighbors might spy me pruning on occasion and I’ve mentioned in passing to the potter at #10, my pension for imprinting color onto paper and cloth on the stove. I had just unbound some freshly steamed bundles when my doorbell rang. The potter also grows exotic house plants. She offered a handful of robust philodendron and begonia leaves from the day’s plant-keeping. So grateful, I invited her in to see what had just developed between the layers of watercolor paper.
As a potter, she has pressed the texture of leaves into clay projects for decoration. Seeing the delicate traces of plant color on the paper fascinated her creative instincts. I directed her to roll a slab and cut it to my paper size. We would experiment together. Two days later, the slab is drying with a coating of mordant brushed on. We are prepared for failure, but hopeful.
What do you think will happen?
Chemistry and collaboration aside, when I stand in place, even while wandering, abundant nature will provide just what I need on any given day.
*(I always make the bed.)