As I sit here this morning looking out over my shimmering summer pasture, listening to chirping birds and cackling hens, it's hard to imagine the violent weather of last summer, known here as Tropical Storm Irene.
Although we thankfully missed the destruction that many Vermonters endured, our lower pasture became a raging torrent of rain-swollen water. The stream bank that was formerly three feet above the surface of the water is now almost level with it. Luckily, this summer has been hot but very benevolent in terms of weather conditions and even allowed us to paint the rear wall of our house—summer painting projects are not always a sure thing in Vermont. The old adage about our seasons-- “nine months of snow and three months of bad sledding” isn't all that far off the mark!
So we respect the weather here and it's usually the first topic of conversation when meeting others. As farmers, we know that every activity is dependent on the behavior of the natural world. So we respect Nature and learn to read the subtle signs and indications that She provides us every day.
Since last summer I've had a pile of tree roots drying on my front porch from a downed tree that was completely uprooted by Irene. It's caused me to think on how everything in Nature is connected by design. The leafy portion of a tree branches out to gather sunlight and air from its environment, while below the surface, the roots expand into the soil to capture nutrients and water. But think about the human body—our blood system mimics the same design as it courses throughout our bodies, very like the trees in my front yard. From heart to large veins and arteries, down to the smallest capillaries, these tiny streams branch out to the furthest parts of our fingertips, so similar to the branches and roots of a tree.
So this was my inspiration as I began to wrap polymer strands around my fingers into wreaths and rounds of clay, textured and antiqued and colored with pencils and oils. Picture jasper rondelles and pyrite were added to add reflective surfaces to complement the matte quality of the branchy beads. I finished off with beads from a prayer mala-- it seemed fitting, as this piece began as an experiment and ended as a meditation on our natural world.