June 2016 Archives

The last few mornings I have found racoon footprints in our dog's outdoor water bowl and my amaryllis dumped out of its pot. It is as if they were playing some version of rock-paper-scissors and the winner gets to spread my potting soil with glee. I am glad the racoon does not have more night time hours to wreck havoc on the porch or in our shed, although, I am sad that we have now reached that moment on the calendar when the days begin shortening.

21 summer 2016.jpgBy the pond at night
three raccoons play
paper, scissors, rock.
They do have the hands
to do it. When they get bored
they turn around the clocks
while you lie sleeping.

By Lorna Crozier,
from "Notes for a Small Pocket," in The Wrong Cat.

#20 summer solstice 2016

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This evening was officially the summer solstice marking the longest period of daylight for the year. It is also the full moon. The native Americans called this the strawberry moon. Here in Virginia the local strawberries are done. In Europe it is known as the honey moon. I think I'd call it the firefly moon. We lingered on the porch after dinner watching fireflies until the moon peeked above the tree tops.

20 summer 2016.jpgIf you catch a firefly
            and keep it in a jar
You may find that
            you have lost
A tiny star.

If you let it go then,
            back into the night,
You may see it
            once again
Star bright.

-- Lilian Moore

#19 summer solstice 2016

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It's been a great weekend full of new and old friends. The trees stood by as silent witnesses to our comings and goings.

19 summer 2016.jpgI'm thinking about people and trees and how I wish I could be silent more, be more tree than anything else, less clumsy and loud, less crow, more cool white pine, and how it's hard not to always want something else, not just to let the savage grass grow.

--  Ada Limón, from "Mowing" in Bright Dead Things (via pigmentin

#18 summer solstice 2016

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The deer have only eaten some of the daylilies.

18 summer 2016.jpg
"It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings."

--  Wendell Berry, from "Poetry and Marriage: The Use of Old Forms," Standing by Words (Counterpoint, 1983)

#17 summer solstice 2016

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This morning's grey horizon gave way to brilliant cool breezes. We have garlic scapes in vases, pots which hold memories, tables that serve as horizons, and what ever we have forgotten will go unnoticed.

17 summer 2016.jpgEverything behind us

Is before us
Stretched out: an endless

Grey horizon.

What we don't remember

Lives in us, forever.
Cynthia Cruz, closing lines to "Guidebooks for the Dead (II)," Field (no. 93, Fall 2015)

#16 summer solstice 2016

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The weather report has threatened rain all day, but for the most part all that  appeared were a few drops on the tulip poplar and a drizzle on the driveway.  Finally, as it got dark and I picked peas for dinner, the lights flickered and lightning dazzled off the pond while the gutters guffawed with water. The last petals of the iris have been washed away by the storm and the soil is drinking up the moisture.

16 summer 2016.jpgA drop fell on the apple tree,

Another on the roof;

A half a dozen kissed the eaves,

And made the gables laugh.

-- Emily Dickinson, from "Summer Shower"

#15 summer solstice 2016

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One of the first seasons I had a garden my parents were visiting and Dad offered to help weed. He went at it with his usual unique structure and pulled out my lemon grass and leeks as they did not fit his categories of home grown kitchen material. Most likely his intention, I never asked him to help again. I continued on my own weedy culinary path of flavors amidst the backyard patch. One way I have defined myself is through my garden and it's rhythmic seasons of hope. I find daily inspiration in the flowers, vegetables, and leaves that I pick. I experience tenacity in the weeds. I look for relationships of curves and the way one thing sits on another when I serve food. The garden feeds me and the food feeds my work.

15 summer 2016.jpgThrowing Away the Alarm Clock

my father always said, "early to bed and
early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy
and wise."
it was lights out at 8 p.m. in our house
and we were up at dawn to the smell of
coffee, frying bacon and scrambled
my father followed this general routine
for a lifetime and died young, broke,
and, I think, not too
taking note, I rejected his advice and it
became, for me, late to bed and late
to rise.
now, I'm not saying that I've conquered
the world but I've avoided
numberless early traffic jams, bypassed some
common pitfalls
and have met some strange, wonderful
one of who
myself-someone my father

--Charles Bukowski

#14 summer solstice 2016

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14 summer 2016.jpgIt takes a while to learn to talk the long language of the rock.

--Ursula K. Le Guin, closing lines to "A Request," Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems, 1960-2010 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)

#13 summer solstice 2016

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The new version of a nothingness plate. I revisit this idea of nothingness which is the running shadow of calligraphy by Tetsuzan Shinagawa that hangs in the restaurant Omen Azen in New York City.

13 summer 2016.jpg...how I love your handwriting, that running shadow of your voice...

--  Vladimir Nabokov, in a letter to Véra Nabokov, Letters to Véra, ed. and transl. Olga Voronina and Brian Boyd (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014)

#12 summer solstice 2016

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My onions have taken a beating in the dry heat of the last week but they look beautiful in my vases. They bring to mind the old words of songs Dad used to sing when I cried because I ran so hard to keep up with my brothers who were 5 and 7 years older. His reminder song went, "I'm the only little petunia in the onion patch, the onion patch, the onion patch. I am the only little petunia in the onion patch, boo hoo hoo." As an adult I realize I don't relate so much to frilly petunias. I am more of a flavorful onion, making new songs with bulbs and blossoms and looking for wonder in every new track.

12 summer 2016.jpgAnd when old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart; and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders.
--  Rabindranath Tagore

#11 summer solstice 2016

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11 summer 2016.jpgThe airy sky has taken its place leaning against the wall.
 It is like a prayer to what is empty. 
And what is empty turns its face to us and whispers:
"I am not empty, I am open."
-- Tomas Tranströmer, from Verneer

#10 summer solstice 2016

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After a trip to Seagrove, North Carolina I see images of kilns, pots, studios, old and new friends dancing on the inside of my eyelids. Who knows what ultimate form these conversations, experiences, materials, dreams and influences of the last two days will take. Right now, they fill the space between memory, sleep wakefulness, and tomorrow.

10 summer 2016.jpg
I lie about to fall asleep, I glimpse unknown images

and signs drawn on the inside of my eyelids

on the wall of darkness. In the crack between wakefulness and dream

a large letter tries in vain to push itself through.
--Tomas Tranströmer, closing lines to "Nocturne" trans. Malena Mörling, Field (no. 87, Fall 2012)

#9 summer solstice 2016

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Driving in Virginia at this time of year the grasses blow in the wind making wave like patterns. Seeing the outlines of clouds dancing across the Blue Ridge geography I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be the scooting shadows. But then I start looking at--new to me--clays in North Carolina and miles and miles of possibilities open in my imagination.

09 summer 2016.jpgI thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow, the million moving shapes and cul-de-sacs of shadow. There was shadow in bureau drawers and closets and suitcases, and shadow under houses and trees and stones, and shadow at the back of people's eyes and smiles, and shadow, miles and miles and miles of it, on the night side of the earth.
--  Sylvia Plath, from The Bell Jar (Harper & Row

# 8 summer solstice 2016

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When I first begin to pick peas in the garden I feel like it should be declared a holiday. The moment between bites is such a distinct part of spring and a total enjoyment of the garden. As one friend said it is not about farm to table but garden to mouth.

08 summer 2016.jpgThese things I cherish:
the moment between glances;
stillness beneath sound;
the voice of the unuttered;
the darkness behind the light.
Michael Boiano

#7 summer solstice 2016

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Our beech tree is starting to wear our yard like a dress. I would rather envision our trees, especially the tulip poplar positioned like stilts or sentries. I have been trimming branches so I don't have to bend over to walk to the studio or so I can see the pond from my wheel. These trees do give us the illusion of isolation, the freedom to pursue our artistic dreams without being watched--a big change from 1987 when the terrain was one large osage orange tree isolated in a meadow, overlooking the six-acre pond.

[That's a tulip poplar flower in the segmented bowl:]

07 summer 2016.jpgThe Copper Beech

Immense, entirely itself,
it wore that yard
like a dress,
with limbs low enough
for me to enter it
and climb
the crooked ladder
to where
I could lean
against the trunk
and practice being alone.
One day,
I heard the sound
before I saw it,
rain fell 
darkening the sidewalk.
Sitting close to the center,

not very high

in the branches, 

I heard it 

hitting the high leaves, 

and I was happy,
watching it happen

without it happening to me.

--  "The Copper Beech" BY MARIE HOWE
Found at The Poetry Foundation website. Reprinted there from 'What the Living Do', W. W. Norton & Co., 1997. Copyright © by Marie Howe.

#6 summer solstice

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A June morning, 

too soon to wake,

too late to fall asleep again.

I must go out--

the greenery is dense

with memories, 

they follow me with their gaze.

They can't be seen,

they merge completely into

the background, true chameleons.

They are so close
that I can hear them breathe

though the birdsong is deafening.

--  Memories Look at Me: A Memoir 
by Tomas Tranströmer, Robin Fulton (Translator)

#5 summer solstice 2016

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I have the gift of boxes of my mother's poems. Some are more legible than others. Some are more meaningful than others, but their beauty speaks in specifics--an evening of rain, the celebration of her life entwined with my father's, her fears of what would happen to her books.

I use the poems as departure points for plates, writing words through red clay dust, printed onto a contrasting clay which even further distorts the language. Yet these words embedded in a plate, uttered in undertones, are gestures of memory.

05 summer 2016.jpgWhat we are given in dreams we write as blue paint,

Or messages to the clouds.

At evening we wait for the rain to fall and the sky to clear.

Our words are words for the clay, uttered in undertones,

Our gestures salve for the wind.

We sit out on the earth and stretch our limbs,

Hoarding the little mounds of sorrow laid up in our hearts.

--Charles Wright, closing lines to "Homage to Paul Cézanne," The Southern Cross: Poems (Random House, 1981)

#4 summer solstice 2016

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I have been looking at Richard Diebenkorn's drawings all week, imagining them as backdrops for my pots. These drawings speak the same language as those my Dad drew of the laden table in my childhood. There are cups and plates, scissors  and flowers. These drawings call to me like Greek sirens, demanding my attention to everyday objects. Diebenkorn's drawings of  shoes, flowers, an envelope, the coffee cup are so human, full of loose marks and revisions, just like my Dad's drawings of a salt and pepper shaker on the table, a pair of shoes, his sculpture stand, and plants in the window.  I was thrilled to find the drawing of my unicycle leaned up against the living room mantlepiece.  There, in today's full sight is one obsession of my early teen years  Such drawings convey not only the world around my father, but his appreciation of and his attention towards his surroundings and thus the character within.

04 summer 2016.jpg
Nothing is more abstract than reality.
--Giorgio Morandi

#3 summer solstice 2016

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I always find the first days of June heat draining. Earlier in the week as I told a friend how I had wilted in the middle of the day she reminded me that sometimes the reward about living in Virginia is the morning and the evening. So I make a point to take my morning cup outside to admire the garden and the feel of the air. In the evening it's time to enjoy the last wisps of light and bits of breeze.

_WAF4903.jpgIf it wasn't for each daybreak
I'd stay here, staked like a star
in the back of the brain.

--  Yusef Komunyakaa, from  "Fever," Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1993)

#2 summer solstice 2016

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Sitting on the porch, lingering over words after dinner with friends, a gentle rain began to fall. It whispered the fragrance of honeysuckle and mowed grass.  Conversation was punctuated by the occasional firefly and the punch lines of forgotten jokes. We spun our tales between garden and house, studio and table, earth and silence.

_WAF4901.jpgSitting over words
very late I have heard a kind of whispered sighing
not far
like a night wind in pines or like the sea in the dark
the echo of everything that has ever
been spoken
still spinning its one syllable
between the earth and silence

--  W. S. Merwin, "Utterance"

#1 summer solstice 2016

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The first of June is upon us and so begins my series of images leading up to June 21, the longest day of the year.