Thursday, September 29, 2005
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Some nights I find myself stuck in an edgy place between wakefulness and sleep. I'm on an unprotected border where I'm attacked by thoughts that hide from me in the daylight hours. They dart on my periphery like shadows of things I imagine might be there, but when I turn to confront them...they vanish. When I finally fall asleep, my dreams pick up where my thoughts left off, and if I'm lucky, they guide me past the danger zone.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Illustration Friday - Fresh
I was a very quiet little girl who spent most of her grade school days reading books, escaping into the wonderful worlds I found there. I had a couple of best friends, but for the most part I kept company with the many characters I met in the pages of the stack of books I would carry home from the library each week. Like many quiet children, I was often teased by the popular girls, and although I pretended not to care, of course my feelings were deeply hurt. That might have been why I liked Charles Perrault's story, "The Fairies" so much. It's a story about a fresh girl who gets what she deserves.
Once upon a time, there were two sisters who couldn't be more different. The older sister was nasty, rude, and arrogant, and used to being spoiled. The younger sister was kind, soft-spoken, and often pushed around by her older sister. One fine day, the two girls went to draw water from a well. There they met a gnarled old hag who asked them to help her fill her pitcher. The elder sister was rude, refusing the help the old woman (who happened to be a fairy in disguise), but the younger sister very sweetly offered to help. The fairy then rewarded the girls appropriately; the fresh sister was punished by having toads and lizards and snakes come out of her mouth every time she opened it to speak, whereas the younger sister was rewarded with the gift of flowers and jewels spilling from her mouth with each word.
Yes... it's another one of those metaphorical cautionary tales... You can read the full text here:
The Fairies by Charles Perrault
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Illustration Friday - Escape
What was Icarus thinking before he escaped into the sky on those glorious wings of feather, wax and thread? Although he had been warned by his father Dedalus not to fly too high lest the sun melt the wax that held his wings together, once in the air he was overcome by the thrill of flight and the power of his wings. In exultation, Icarus soared heavenward towards the sun, forgetting his father's earnest and loving words of caution. The death of Icarus is told in the following lines by Darwin:
Sunk hapless Icarus on unfaithful wings;
Headlong he rushed through the affrighted air,
With limbs distorted and dishevelled hair;
His scattered plumage danced upon the wave,
And sorrowing Nereids decked his watery grave;
O’er his pale corse their pearly sea-flowers shed,
And strewed with crimson moss his marble bed;
Struck in their coral towers the passing bell,
And wide in ocean tolled his echoing knell.
The Myth of Icarus has long stood as a cautionary tale warning of the brash, impulsive exuberance of youth. I like to wonder though about the immense feeling of possibility young Icarus must have felt as he stood poised at the edge of the cliff, with the dark sea rolling out for miles to the mainland of Greece and the sun heating his blood and stirring his ambition. Perhaps in that moment, to him the sky wasn't the limit, and when he pushed off into the air, it was with a sense of confidence and purpose...a fine way to start a new journey.
You can read about Icarus in Bullfinche's Mythology
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Illustration Friday - Depth
When I was a little girl, I thought it would be wonderful to be a mermaid. I wasn't really thinking about the whole idea of living underwater...I just really wanted that tail! According to the various pictures I had seen of mermaids, their tails came in myriad colors ranging from reds and magentas to most shimmering shades of blue and turquoise. They were slinky and sparkly, firm but translucent at the bottom, and totally irrestible to a child who adored dressing in costumes. So one summer while on vacation by the ocean, I spent a great deal of time sketching mermaids and designing a mermaid costume that I planned to make when I got home.
To be honest, I don't remember why I never made the costume; all I remember is dreaming about the stretchy metallic bue and green fabric that I hoped to find somewhere and use for my project. Perhaps I was sidetracked by my determination to find the end of the rainbow (this is true...I was sure it was near a sand cliff way down at the farthest end of the beach) or by the excitement of listening to Beatles records with my summer friend in her little playroom in the hotel her mother managed. Whatever the reason was, I have not since drawn a picture of a mermaid. So my offering for this week's Illustration Friday is also a nod to the girl was never afraid to let her imagination lead the way.
Friday, September 09, 2005
These last weeks of summer sag under their own weight and begin to give way to the approaching season. The petunia plants have pretty much stopped flowering and hang bedraggled over the edges of their pots. The night noises of crickets and tree frogs have begun to subside and in their place are more urgent howls and screeches of animals who sense the changes of moisture and temperature. So I'm thinking about autumn and the energy the cooler air brings. I'm thinking how sharply in focus everything seems against an acid-blue sky, almost too perfect to be real, and how the colors of a New England fall day make the simple act of breathing a prayer of thanks. And as much as autumn is the precursor to the sleep and death of winter, it brings to me vitality and purpose, reminding me in the most glorious way that circles do remain unbroken.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Illustration Friday - Roots
Nature, in all its sublime beauty and power, has no sense of what it does. Unlike humans, Nature can't choose to do good or evil; and its actions are just part of what Nature is. Its breezes gently scatter seeds to take root and grow where they land as impassively as its winds hurl destruction. I am thinking not only of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but of all the people who have been uprooted by both natural and human forces. I pray that they will find themselves again in a place where they can take root.