Do numbers even exist in Nature? I don’t think so. They are human concepts, to which humans have attached meaning. In Nature, things simply are as they are. For example, there’s a tall flowering plant growing in the woodlands and by the freeways, blooming with pink to purple flowers in profusion right now. Is it Wild Phlox or is it Dame’s Rocket? The two look very much alike. Wild Phlox, however, has 5 petals on each flower. It is a native wildflower. Dame’s Rocket has 4 petals to a flower, and it is an invasive species. One is celebrated, the other ripped out at the roots in great handfuls and left to wither in the sun.
We make a lot of judgments based on numbers. What’s your SAT score? Your credit score? Your cholesterol level?
Does it matter? We live; we make choices; we die. I think numbers are immaterial. I think character is everything. A growing thing, no matter the number of its parts, is alive. It deserves respect.
In the expansive mist of morning, when my soul takes time and room to breathe and stretch, I gaze around my room and wonder what I might do with myself. My eyes light on the top shelf of a bookcase, where stands a handmade paper album. Pages of rough texture wait to absorb something well-constructed, like a bed of rice made to nestle a complicated curry. What poem or drawing or photograph would be worthy to lie in those lush furrows?Surely nothing as lowly as what I would create. Yet I long to put my time, my love, my hands to work, to make something. I want to slowly blend my life into some material. The satisfaction is exquisite. I felt it once, birthing and raising children. The medium responds, reacts, engages, resists. It is not a work of power; it is a work of love.
I have begun to notice an impatient annoyance building up in me when I look at photography sites. I am enamored of the images, but so often the captions leave me irritated. I do want to know what I’m looking at and where it was found. I don’t like the flavor of language that suggests violence. “I captured”, “I shot”, “I took”, “I caught”. Why not just say that you were there? It was there. You made a photograph of it at that place and in time. Doesn’t that sound more respectful somehow?It does to me.
I like art that shows that respect. An artist is generous with time, patient, slow, allowing something to unfold, gently. There is a generosity of presence in art. An artist gives herself – body, consciousness, energy, and love – into a relationship with her work and medium. That’s what feels so rich, pleasing and compelling in a well-made piece. Whatever it is. I am often so task-oriented that I don’t think of that. I was taught to be efficient, neat and accurate. In preparing a meal, for instance. When I began cooking for Steve, he’d ask me about supper, and I’d tell him the steps I planned to take and ask for his input on decisions. He’d respond with something like, “Just make it with love.” I wasn’t sure what that meant. I think I have a better idea now.
I have a whole day and a whole chicken ahead of me. I want to make something satisfying, not just in the end product, but in the relationship along the way. I’ll let you know how that turns out. Meanwhile, I’ll share these pictures from Horicon Marsh. I didn’t take them. I like to think I invited them, and they came willingly.