Our first winter in New England. We enjoyed it more than we dreamed; for one thing, there is a lot of bright sunshine. My spirits notice this, and celebrate. Afternoons from time to time get spent in a coffee shop; while Greg studies, transcribes, draws or writes, I am lettering – joyful ways to pass time and drop into wordlessness. ¶ The above is a sample of illumination found in the Luttrell Psalter. I’ve never seen it anywhere else, it’s a challenge to navigate, hence it becomes a lovely puzzle for me to solve. Life is good. (¶ P.S. I often get good quotes from Greg as he’s reading nearby.)
I began my current sketchbook (#8) at Autumn Equinox 2016; ’til then I’d been finishing a sketchbook a year. By the following spring I noticed something was changing; I wasn’t drawing as much, and my life, very full, was draining me in ways I couldn’t articulate. It was good; I suspect there was just too much of it. This has to do with aging, this much is clear. So, at that time, I adopted the word ‘Emptiness’ as a guide; I tried it on, it seemed to fit, and I began letting go. Of things. Of commitments. Of false selves. I remember soon after looking at my sketchbook, frighteningly empty, and wondering just what it was I was looking for. I turned to the center spread, lettered the above, and asked myself, “Where will I be when that page becomes current?”
Little did I know … It wasn’t long after that when our floathouse broke, Greg fell in the river, and we both looked around, knowing we couldn’t do this any longer. That’s when I asked him where he would like to live. “New England,” he said without hesitation.
We’ve been here nearly a year now, our initial goal of living through 4 seasons almost done. Big snowstorm is expected today, perhaps the biggest so far (a mild winter). And while I’m not drawing, I am doing a lot more lettering. Turns out the sketchbook works well for that too. And yes, I have reached the center spread, gone a little beyond. I have more to say about what’s come to be known as “The Emptiness Project,” tho that can be a topic for future consideration. In the meantime,
I haven’t been drawing. It might be because of winter and we haven’t been exploring much. Or it might be something else. In the meantime, allow me to proudly announce perhaps our biggest achievement since arriving in New England.
We both won the Barstow Farm’s Calf Naming Contest!
Barstow is one of the many farm stores around these parts. We like to go there for breakfast; they make a mean egg sandwich with all the trimmings and all the ambience of, well, a farm store. Our last visit there we noticed on the bulletin board pictures of 8 calves born in November, and they needed names. The only rule, all names had to begin with U – it is their way of keeping tabs on who is born when. Greg and I went at it: Umptious, Ulysses, U-Kow-Le-Le …
We were surprised and pleased when an envelope from Barstow’s arrived, especially to discover we had both won. The prize? Free ice cream cones at Barstow’s; we’ll be saving those for summer.
… or Pasture Day, that spring-like day in May when they release the cows from the barn after a long winter indoors; the sight of them frolicking toward the grass a sight worth watching. (Barstow’s makes a day of it; bring a picnic.)
… and please note, in Unice’s picture, if you look closely, you can see Uberkow patiently waiting his turn.
Such a nice surprise in my email this morning. A friend I’ve never met, Jean Wilson, has a blog called Pushing the Envelopes (http://pushingtheenvelopes.blogspot.com/); I’d sent her a little gift last fall, and today my ‘envelope’ ended up on her page. A treat! It made me think I’d better get busy and get my next page up, because I’m still regaling summer, but it’s winter here in Amherst. (7″ of snow last week, in November!) So, here you go.
The season changed, it seemed like overnight, from summer to fall. This will take some getting used to. But, before I get my head completely caught in the clouds and leaves, let me show you what I made.
3 stages of chair (bentwood birch). Unfortunately my weekend class at Snowfarm – there wasn’t enough time or materials for us all to finish. So you can see what I brought home with me … and despaired. But, with Greg’s help, (climbing into all three birches in our backyard looking for the 10′ withes I would need, helping me drill and hammer, and mostly, keeping my sanity in check) look what we hath accomplished:
Isn’t it beautiful? Well … isn’t it ok that I find it beautiful?
Have I mentioned it’s been a long, hot, humid summer? This made getting out to explore more difficult. As well, the summer is quiet here in 5 Colleges area, especially in Amherst (population ~5000 in summer, 22,000 during the school year). But with Labor Day comes the Harvest Fairs. Greg had been looking forward to this one all summer, held in Northampton.
I fell in love with the oxen.
Explore has become my theme for how to live in New England. For our second trip to Tanglewood, we decided to add on a day of New York exploring, so designed a trip that would take us over the border into the Catskills. This page is, indubitably, a challenge for you, the online reader, but I keep reminding myself my sketchbook is primarily a tool for me. In this case, a mile-by-mile travelogue of notes for my memory and use.
It does include our last visit to MassMoCA with Lisa and Dave as well. I love the image that Greg photographed of the three of us looking through that intense window of cold and light.