Saturday, December 29, 2012

Warming Up

colored pencil
 I enjoy riding my bike to the Wellesley College Greenhouses on weekend mornings. The doors open at 8:00 A.M. every day of the year (almost). And today, a wintery gla gla day: cold and gray with rain and snow in the forecast, was perfect for indulging in the delightful and varied green leaves and colorful flowers.

The ride takes about ten minutes and got me cold enough to first indulge in a coffee and 30 minutes of doodling in my sketchbook. Then I suit up again and wheel over to the campus and the greenhouses. I greet David, the caretaker and we talk about the weather and some plants he has given me in the past that need to be pruned. He coaches me through the process and soon I disentangle myself from human company and search for other forms of life to get to know.

I wander past banana trees and the Swiss Cheese plant and the Tea bushes to a room of fragrant orchids. Two species with sprays of brown and cream flowers are blooming. I choose a non-blooming Cytrapodium and warm up by drawing its stems and leaves (above, left).

I think that maybe it's time to head home but wander a bit further to a room filled with papyrus and rice and many aquatic plants. There are several pools and a small fountain. The air is moist and the sound of the trickling water is lovely. The pools are home to large and small goldfish. One pool has hundreds of small dark minnows. They float and dart about in a multi-level weaving of fish. I draw the school of fish and the varied layers of activity. It is very relaxing and is time well-spent. For those people who love to gaze at fish, this is the best and least pretentious place to get lost in imagining life as a fish.

With a wave I wish David a Happy New Year and cycle back home. Happy New Year to you too!

colored pencil

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Coffee Break

Waban Arches, Charles River, Wellesley, MA
conté pencil
Instead of making coffee for my late-sleeping wife, I was out the gray morning light in the woods along the river making this drawing of the Waban Arches where Waban, or Fuller Brook enters the Charles River in Wellesley. It was cold and a bit damp out there on the river bank. But it was quiet too. A Saturday morning, just a few invisible geese whooping it up in the shallows somewhere between where I stood and the bridge.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No End in SIght

A view upriver, South Natick
charcoal pencil
Dec. 12, 2012
Life goes on eh? We make lists and grids and spreadsheets. We invent wheels and weaving looms and computers. We build a rich record of memories and facts and attach them to numerical representations of the rotating Earth. The seasons flow past, each unique yet somehow all blurring together too.

There is no such thing as the End of the World. There is no Doomsday. There will be no Apocalypse. These are representations of our minds which cavort and graze in a pasture bound by our requirements for Finitude. Time does not really exist. And so, all we must do is be gentle and care for one another as if there was no Tomorrow.
Bonne journée!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


A red squirrel perched on a branch of a pine tree
A tree frog perched on a Camphor tree

The river and reflections on a quiet, foggy morning
Aren't we all just perching somewhere? Biding our time? Taking a breather? Licking our wounds? Taking 5? Evaluating our options? Cooling our heels? Taking notes? Recalibrating? Taking stock of the situation? Re-charging our batteries? Unilaterally calling a truce and saying for a moment: "here body! Here soul! Come here and rest --for just a moment.
Collect your wits, Find your center. Take a breath …until you are called to dive back into the business at hand.

I hope you find some time to perch and reflect in this busy season of expectation.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Pomegranate

Dwarf Pomegranate
charcoal, colored pencil
It is snowing here. After making a few errands this morning, I went to the greenhouses and was stopped by the Dwarf Pomegranate plant in the first house I entered. The Dwarf Pomegranate plant is not much to look at: stiff, spindly twigs and narrow bundled leaves sticking out at right angles to the gray bark. It's only 2-3 feet tall and wan looking in a slightly feral way. The plant is small. However, the fruit is not. There was one magnificent pomegranate weighing down one side of the bush. It was a deep crimson color and looked hard and almost ripe. There it is, a very daring thing waiting to be picked.

The Greek goddess Persephone, her lips stained crimson from just eating six pomegranate seeds, was condemned to wed Hades and spend six months in the Underworld at her husband's side. Her mother, grief-stricken Demeter, goddess of the Harvest, then and forever wanders the sere winter world pining for the Spring day when she will be reunited with her daughter. This is a tragic myth that explains the seasons but I like to think that the lovely pomegranate (lovely to gaze upon and to taste) offers a small taste of Heaven at any time of year.
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