Snow is falling today! Blustery and wet outside, yet big flakes driving past my little cabin make the forest appear slightly opaque, moving in a different way through each torrent of snow to get a glimpse of what is beyond. Disappearing once it touches ground. This area needs snow badly, there has been no snow pack this year which will affect water supplies and agriculture and leave the land open to forest fires.
My cabin looks like a squirrels nest – bark, branches and pine needles are scattered on all surfaces. I’ve rolled up my rug so I can work directly on the floor. Pieces of white, black and printed paper line my table and charcoal covered clothes are strewn about, hanging on various makeshift hooks (including my lamp).
The color of my nose is currently a ruddy sunburnt, the tips of my fingers rough and what seems like a permanent blackness rests under my fingernails, splinters poke into my arms and I cannot for the life of me keep my clothes clean for even one day.
This place has a calm and power that has affected all the residents, our dreams have been vivid and plentiful and we all feel blessed to be here. The staff (what staff?) is nowhere to be seen, we are left to our own devices to make or break the rules, open access to all and it results in a feeling of trust and respect. After our potluck the other night we cast glow sticks into the lake to see how deep it is (close to 300ft) and projected Star Wars above the immense fireplace with the fire blazing…just because we could.
I’ve flicked ticks off me, stood in mourning and honor between the charred trees, gone out for a canoe and seen underwater trees, become teary-eyed at the beauty of this place and have fallen in love with the wood-borer trails embedded in the fallen trees. The patterns, the tiny creature maps, the language and symbols they convey. Something that strikes me as so beautiful but their existence is probably the demise of the tree I’m standing over.
I am now starting to get heated, sitting literally in the hearth of the fireplace in the main Hearth Building waiting for my pieces of wood to dry. The hearth is at least 15′ wide and 8′ deep, my lounge chair is easily nestled in, cozy by the fire. The weather has been amazing the last two days- bouts of rain and snow intermingled with sun and wind. At one moment I’m ready to give up and grab a cup of tea and the next I’m putting on my boots to go out. In the same instant big plops of rain fall or snow are whizzing by I see shadows from the hazy sun and sunshowers sparkling down around me, keeping me constantly on the lookout for a rainbow.
I can’t believe I’ve been here this long already. The days seem to whiz by, yet are also very peaceful and there’s so much time to explore, take in, collect – just be in this place. It’s a true gift to have this time. I have been trying to break out of my pattern of feeling ‘stressed’ to produce and valuing my process within a short time-frame. I know now that whatever I do here doesn’t just stay here it will extend into my practice and I want to fully experience each step, each vista, each moment of doubt and success. It doesn’t make sense for me to burn myself out- this is a place and a space where I am relieved from the pressures of my ‘norm’ the overwhelming schedule, the demands of work and on top of that trying to fit in studio time, friend time, family time and me time. To honor that is huge in itself and an awakening to go slower, to take care of myself yet uphold what is the most important to me ~making art, speaking my truth and being in my truth.