i’m sitting at my front window, as i always am when writing a post, looking out first to the immediate maple tree that stands beyond the deck, then behind the tree to the left at an expanse of trees that ascend a ridge up to the sky, and then – ultimately – off to the right to the far expanses of trees and mountains and clouds and sky that make up my western horizon. (the photo that you see here today is one i took earlier this week, as today is as grey and cold as the bottom of an old pewter cup, with all sense of color watered down). this is the view that you usually see here on Ornamental – the undulating ripples and rises, the dips and eddies of land that look like so many things at so many different times: torn pieces of construction paper, a rumpled velvet coverlet, a rolling combination of oil and water that will not ever mix.
i’ve taken hundreds of photos of this view, and of that tree, in the nearly 6.5 years that i’ve lived in this one house; the changes and the constants never grow stale to me, which is why i love living where the four seasons are so defined, so drastic and sure. in my previous home, perched up on two acres of land atop a hill on a bend of a quiet road at the quiet edge of town, i used to love to sit on the huge front porch of that house, rocking back and forth in a white wicker swing, watching the seasons wash over the trees and the woods that were beyond me. but it wasn’t the same as this, somehow – the views were immediate, i couldn’t watch the storms roll in, i couldn’t see the fog as it lifted and dropped again, as it hovered then evaporated slowly into the sky. sunsets were seen through a bank of western trees, and sunrise – something i still don’t see here, either – was limited to a wash of sun that rose and spilled over the eastern side across the road, as late as 9am. i miss that house, for a good many reasons – the proximity to town while still being private and quiet, the expansive front porch, the covered carport, the wood burning stove, the big kitchen with its central hardwood island where i cooked, where we gathered and shared big meals. it was different there, though – the boys were still in school and living at home, i still had wholesale accounts with production line jewelry getting sent to various shops and boutiques across the country, i worked under the roof in a space that had once been an attic. tall friends had to walk around upstairs with their heads tilted to one side; we generally stayed down below, where the ceilings were tall, where the floor boards creaked when we walked.
i was more social then. the boys played soccer, and there were women i met while sitting on bleachers watching the games in the waning afternoon light. we had a lot in common back then, those women and i: our children were the same age, and our parallel schedules were dictated by school hours and then by afternoon soccer practice and games. there was the occasional glass of wine shared either at home or in a little café that was walking distance down the road and around the bend. my time was full. i was younger. my time was not my own.
now i live completely alone, my time is as i choose, again. this year has been one long trip after the next, with three week chunks of time spent not here at home but off in the far reaches of this world. routines were flung to the wind, and rituals became things that had happened only in my familiar but distant, out of reach past. i missed the evenings spent sitting out on the deck, listening to the sounds of the night; i missed the early mornings with my cup of cappuccino out on the porch, or here at the windows in front of the light. i ached for books that could be read without interruption, ached for the chance to listen to music that was my own. i wanted the time to walk again at the river, to sit and create jewelry without having to stop what i was doing and run an errand for anyone else but myself. now here I am again. the house is quiet, the seasons are changing as fast as i can pull out my camera and try to capture the colors and the essences as best i can. it is difficult to photograph a moving object, and that is what it feels like right now as i stare at a tree that is shedding its leaves after a gusty cold front and period of rain have passed; the tree that only two days ago was full of fiery amber leaves in the last afternoon light is now resembling not an opera star but more like a member of a traveling circus, its costume still bright but disheveled and threadbare in a lot of embarrassing places. when i pull out my camera in a vain attempt to capture the last of the tree’s lingering radiance, on an overcast morning that refuses to cooperate, i am reminded of a fellow that actor Harvey Keitel beautifully portrayed years and years ago in a movie called Smoke. his character owned a shop on a busy corner of Brooklyn, New York; every morning at 8am, to the best of my recollection, he walked outside the shop door and snapped a photo of the moment. then, into a scrapbook each photograph went. and although it was the same street corner, with the same buildings, the same street light and signs, every photo was different because of the changes in weather, because of the different (and often same) people walking by. anyway – that’s what i think of this morning as i look out to that tree, when i see the stable vista that is anything but the same, throughout the year, the years.
i was going to write a bit about a piece i worked on in the last two days of my stay in Colorado. i was going to tell you about the antique teapot strainer, how it had sat on my studio table for something like ten years before i packed it up and carried it with me into an entirely different and new environment. i was going to tell you how i am reminded of a favorite song from a favorite movie every time i look at this piece – how i had tried to capture a sense of bubbles, although tea usually does not have bubbles, except right at the first when it is poured into a cup, how it makes me recall so many cups of tea i had throughout the years, with friends or by myself, in winter or fall, in the chill of a new spring... when sitting and watching leaves fall from a tree, when sitting and watching the leaves grow back again. i wanted to tell you of how i think of hope when i think of friendship and of sharing a cup of tea. i wanted to tell you that within the teapot resides a little bird, and some favorite words from poet emily dickinson, whose poetry was so often quoted to me by my beloved father. i suppose i am telling you that now. i wasn’t able to finish the necklace as i had planned to do while still in breckinridge, colorado – friends came by for a visit, robin and another friend of his came to the studio earlier than expected, i needed to pack the myriad of trinkets and materials that i had hauled and sent to work on while i was there. but i think, in retrospect, that this was a very good thing: i was able to visit with my friends, i was able to walk the rainy streets with robin and his friends, i was able to bring the necklace home and work on it yesterday while the rain pattered at my windows, as the cold front moved in and i changed into a long sleeved cashmere sweater, flowered socks, a scarf tied around my bare neck. in the afternoon i twice brewed two different sorts of tea – cinnamon spice from pike place market in seattle, african rooibos from my beloved upton tea. i was able to sit and work quietly at the mayhem of my studio table while the steam from my teacup rose and curled into the studio air. i remembered colorado, i remembered times of tea with friends, and i walked in here from time to time to see the wind blowing yellow leaves of prayer off of that maple tree and sending those prayers and wishes on up into the air of a blustery, burnished grey sky day. i was able, i was here, it was quiet, my time is all my own. let’s see how it gets filled in the days and months ahead. Xo