i don't know what happens with this blog, anymore. for 6.5 years, i managed to write posts on a regular basis, documenting actual events not as much as i wrote about the nature that surrounds me, how the changing of the seasons made me feel, how i reacted to encounters and obstacles, turns of events, losses, gains, everything in between. sometime in the middle of last year, i began to feel the need to bare my soul less and less, bit by bit, and here i am well into the last half of this month without having uttered a single word here on Ornamental. looking back, i think a lot of it has to do with my love for Instagram, for showing a photo or two daily, telling a little story with a word or two or three. sometimes without any words at all. the ease of snapping a photo through my iPhone, always handy in my back pocket, has seduced me into staying away from a medium that requires a great deal of my time and energy. i don't want to abandon the posts, i really don't; what i also don't want is to feel a burden of guilt and responsibility that sometimes comes with staying absent here for longer than the usual stretch of time. that's up to no one but myself. so, here i am with a brand new year, a brand new place to either stop some things altogether (habits, tendencies, worries and fears), or to let some things slide without giving them more than a single passing thought. sometimes i'll be here, sometimes i won't. it doesn't mean that my heart isn't into sharing my world with yours, it doesn't mean that the blog has lost its bearing in my life. i think i just want to let the posts be something you can anticipate and look forward to and enjoy when you have the time to read, when i have the spare time and an inkling to sit down and write. my life is so quiet, these days; i live in the middle of nowhere alone, as all of you know; i walk the back woods at different times of the day in silence with walter, listening to my footsteps on the rooted and bare earth path, listening for changes in the branches overhead and in the hills that surround me above and below. sometimes there is a bird or two - a hawk that circles and cries out in the late afternoon, a wren that rustles in the dead leaves searching for a bit of winter fare.
most times, in winter, there is the hushed silence of woods that have been left to the bare trees and to me. there is the wind, sometimes, there is the jingling of walter's collar tags; there is the rattle of thoughts bumping around in my head, and sometimes there is not even the sound of those thoughts drifting lazily through my mind and into ether. most times, it is a soft and blanketed silence, way out here on firefly road. how do you spend your winter days, your mornings, your evenings and your nights? you, who live on this side of the world, how do you pass your quiet time? do you read into the night, stepping into a wardrobe of imaginary places, or do you sit before the fire and write chicken scratches of poetry into a book of leather? do you, like i, sit quietly in a blue chair pulled up close to the hearth, do you stitch simple lines of red thread onto vintage flour sacking, do you remember special times with cherished friends as the needle slips down through a hoop and pierces the cloth, as it finds its way back up and through again?
do you spend your sunny saturdays visiting your favorite spot beside the river or the stream? do you pull on rubber boots and wade into rain-swollen waters, where you can search for treasures of glass and worn bits of sticks and wood, where you can watch the late afternoon sun dance across the surface of the moving stream that rushes on down to the sea? (photo of my boots and legs, by my beloved friend julie, who was here visiting from ohio for the long days and nights of being stuck indoors as the rain poured down - who caught and succumbed to the treasure hunt bug, a highly contagious thing)
my treasured river, the great Oconaluftee, after four days of heaviest rain spilled over its banks and flooded the surrounding woods, and washed the forest floors bare and clean
searching for fossils hidden amongst creek gravel beds, walking blindly through overgrown woods with a red-thread fiercely treasured friend that i will have and love as family for the rest of my life
for four long days and four long nights, a heavy torrential rain poured down last week in endless sheets, saturating every inch of wooded forest floor and sodden moss, spilling over in a gushing, furious mass from rivers and from streams. the sun finally decided to show up and share its warmth, and i found that stepping out into the yard was like stepping into a natural watery spring. there was not one bit of dry ground upon which to step, to walk. pair after pair of shoes were soaked; i was forced to wait until the waters had surely receded. i waited, and waited, watching first from these windows, and then from a safe edge of the river's higher waters.
in the heart of colder winter months, i am usually fortunate enough to draw inspiration from a falling blanket of forgiving snow. it hasn't come thus far, this year, and i find myself pulling out heaps of vintage fabric and antique trims, beading, velvet leaves in search of winter creativity; i hope for words to surface somehow, like little miracles, from the softness of my aimless stitchery. from strands of ecru embroidery floss, from tattered lace, i summon memories of the dried brown beech leaves that still cling to branches and whisper with the wind. i see the pale brown meadows that rest in the cold. i see the trees, grey and strong and bare.
from old pearl buttons and new drops of moonstone, i see the waxing winter moon, glowing shell-like and white in the sparkling night sky beyond my bedroom walls and through the window just above my head; i see the stars as they shimmer through the branches in the blanket of dark. i see frost on the ground, and in the steam from a piping hot cup of tea. i see all of this, on cold winter mornings and from warmer afternoons into the evening and on to the sleepy nights. i sit quietly, and stitch and think and hope and dream. i hope that this is how the long january evenings are finding you, too - in quiet and in rest, waiting through the short days and dark, long nights for the first quiet signs of tender spring.