Moving from December into 2022

We have had a mix of weather during our December stay in Michigan. We had a beautiful snow just after we arrived, but also had rain, ice, and slush. There were a few sunny days with comfortable temperatures. Unfortunately I had a multitude of excuses for not going out with my camera – most of them centered around my comfort and safety. I want to believe that I can trapes through snow on slippery, sloping ground with the agility I did when I was 40 years younger. My dream of the perfect composition of woodland, fields, snow and shadows doesn’t seem as compelling as the nightmare of falling again. I did venture out into our yard to capture the intersecting beauty of a coating of ice that foretells of hard winter to come, covering fall leaves hanging onto their branches in spite of strong winds, and buds that have formed as a sign of hope that spring will come once again.

This year Christmas was as wonderful for me as a sappy Hallmark movie – once I got my head screwed on straight, or more accurately, eliminated almost half of my healthcare appointments. I told my kids I couldn’t do our Christmas Eve family gathering this year after I realized that my daughter couldn’t be with us to help out with preparations and cleanup. As Christmas got closer I realized I didn’t have to sacrifice getting together with children & grandchildren, & one great-granddaughter. I would keep it simple. We got our usual spiral sliced, bone-in ham (left-overs for everyone and the bone for soups) and I bought frozen mac & cheese. My granddaughters love corn soufflĂ© so I told them I would buy the ingredients if they would make it. Emily got here first and she made two pans of it so there would be plenty for everyone to take some home. I opened a jar of my home-made applesauce, pickled beets, and made a cranberry-orange relish the day before. Jim bought rolls and a vegi tray. Daughter Carol brought Christmas cookies and an apple pie. It was so simple and instead of fussing about, I spent my energy having fun with these wonderful people who are dear to me. I don’t regret those years when there were twice as many people and I made multiple dishes from scratch. They were a lot of fun – but not any more. Now I find fun and joy in different ways.

The week between Christmas and New Years seems to be a time of reflection for me. We took the tree down a couple of days after Christmas in preparation for flying back to Florida on New Years Day. The next day I took down the wreaths and greens and packed away other Christmas decorations. It caused a small ache deep inside as I put Christmas “away.” Packing away the manger scene was a slow process as I thought about whether we could, or should, be putting Christmas behind us. It made me think about what my faith means for me, why I believe in the Christmas story, why I believe in Easter. For several reasons I have lost faith in the church (we do have a church in Florida that feeds us spiritually), but the stories of what Christ taught about peace, love, joy, kindness, gentleness, patience, goodness, faithfulness and self-control make for a good life. His teachings are sound, even though interpretations by humans are sometimes flawed. What we believe in is a choice, and this Christmas I reaffirmed that my belief in Christianity provides a strong foundation for facing an uncertain future. This eve of a new year finds me at peace.

Wishing you safety, comfort and joy as we navigate the coming year together.

The Building of Shapes & Designs

World-Renowned sculptor, Patrick Dougherty is working with volunteers to build a Stickwork sculpture in the Naples Botanical Garden between November 1 and 20. We made sure to check out the progress on our visits the past two weeks. Our first visit 9 days into the project didn’t allow us to discern the final shape and design of the structure, but it was fun seeing how the workers begin to form the structure.

In the beginning long willow branches are “planted”
The shape is slowly revealed as branches are twisted and woven with other twigs.

On my visit a week later a lot of progress had been made and I was able to see how they were creating the structure. You can see doors being formed and a connecting flow of lines along the structure. The next photo is taken from the north side.

And the next one is taken from the east side. When it is finished people will be able to move through and around it. Photos of other sculptures around the world show children running and laughing through the many opening so I anticipate a lot of local school classes coming to see and interact with it. I look forward to becoming a part of these “shapes and designs.”

The sculptor, Patrick Dougherty, working a willow branch in to fill out a curve. I love how there is a merging of simplicity and complexity, beauty born of humility.

In the next two photos I see windows being formed. And I love how movement is being woven into the walls and openings. It is calling me to move within – maybe even to dance.

The last photo is taken from the southern side and you can see how long it will be. The Stickwork moves alongside the stone archway that you see on the right side of the photo. It also appears that the artist was inspired by the curves and movement of the palms being blown by the wind. I doubt that we will be told what the sculpture represents, leaving it to our imaginations instead. I sure hope so because I want to make it into what I need it to be on any given day.

The opening date for this piece of art is Saturday, November 20, the day before we leave for our holidays in Michigan. I was thinking I would run over there when it opens for members at 8:00, but maybe I’ll wait until I return in January. I am really excited about this so it would be something great to look forward to. Stay tuned for “the rest of the story.”

This post is a response to Patti’s Lens-Artist Photo Challenge topic of Shapes & Designs.


Digby Neck Grey

This house with grey weathered siding was photographed on Digby Neck, a long, narrow piece of land on the eastern side of Nova Scotia on the Bay of Fundy. The weather is harsh there on the Atlantic coast of Canada so people frequently use cedar shingles that are left unfinished and allowed to weather naturally. The beauty and character always draw me in.

Brought to you in response to Jude’s Life in Colour: black or grey.