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sunglasses and gunfire. [two artists tuesday]

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we took a hike on easter sunday afternoon.   it was just warm enough to shed my coat in the woods; spring hiking is better without the shush-shushing sound of a down coat while you walk.

we went to our bristol woods, masks in pockets as we jumped out of big red, eager to get into the trees, onto the paths that have soothed us.  there were a few people there; most of them abided by the six-feet-apart rule, although admittedly, there were a few who caused us to roll our eyes in an astonished unspoken question wondering if they lived in a cave somewhere and had no idea that there was a global pandemic.

the familiar paths did their job. we quietly noticed green sprigs springing up between the leaves, a tonal green as you looked off-path from budding underbrush.  here and there forest daffodils at the brink of opening to the world; here and there small white flowers nestled between fallen logs.

the soundtrack of the woods was awakening to spring – orioles’ songs, chipmunks scampering, birds we couldn’t see high in the trees singing arias to the sky, the sound of our feet on the trail.

the gunfire in the background was unwelcome in this reverie of renewal, of spring-really-on-its-way, of escape-from-thoughts-of-covid-19.  it was an automatic, a gun designed to kill, single shots punctuated by the rapidfire of a clip.  it is always unnerving; yesterday it was particularly so.  it seemed mindless to me, paying no homage to these very times, these very days.

in the middle of thousands of people who are desperately trying to save over half a million others’ lives in this country alone, thousands of people who are extending helping hands to countless others, thousands of people who are dedicating resources to feed, mask, shelter thousands of others, thousands of people who are reeling from a loss of life, of job, of any security, of any sense of normal, thousands of people who are frightened to their core that they might be the next to succumb to this pervasive illness, the next to struggle to breathe, i couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out any good reason to be shooting an automatic weapon.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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these old woods. [two artists tuesday]

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this is an old woods.  while we still can hike in it, we are driving -without stopping- to the woods and, generally without seeing anyone else, taking a hike.  it is grounding to be in a woods that is old, a woods that is natural.

around us many trees have fallen.  they lay quietly on the ground, nurselogs to others, the white rot fungi that is sharing their space an invitation to symbiosis.

we spend time looking up at the very-mature-trees standing, reaching to the sky, parallel to each other, taking in the sun.  they too share their space.  they have endured storm and wind, snow and torrential rain; they have endured times of thirst and times of excessive heat.  they are still enduring.

i suspect most of these trees are much older than us.  their rings of life could tell stories of lack, stories of abundance, stories of challenge and stories of ease.  yet, they quietly stand, swaying in the wind like cattails along the curves of a slow river.  not one boasts of its steadfastness; not one complains of its fall.  the wisdom of the ages seemingly is in the long story.  not in the angrily staccato-ed punctuation of a self-indulgent-short-story.

we step into the forest and the community of trees seems to sigh, pleased to see us again.  it is not the prettiest of woods.  but it is deeply, silently reassuring.  life goes on.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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converge. [two artists tuesday]

deer tracks converge

“i shall pass this way but once. any good that i can do, any kindness i can show to any human being, let me do it now, let me not defer nor neglect, for i shall not pass this way again.” (etienne de grellet)

this saying is tucked into my wallet.  it hangs in our kitchen.  it was my sweet momma’s favorite and she lived by it like a mantra. she did not procrastinate kindness until it was convenient; she lived it.

we pass the deer tracks at bristol woods.  often we are first after the deer.  i wonder what they are like as they pass each other, as their paths converge and diverge.

bold black prayer flag converge framed

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

 

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CONVERGE. ©️ 2020 kerri sherwood

 


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zag. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

in the woods

we bought snowpants.  on sale for only $7 they are a wise investment for two people who hike year-round out in the woods or wherever we are.  it’s a big deal for us to buy anything new so, this time, instead of looking at them every day and saving them for good (ala beaky)  we celebrated our good deal by putting them on, going out in the snowy woods and hiking.

we were pretty much silent.  you could hear snow falling from the trees and the crunching of our boots on the trail.  but we didn’t talk much.  with so many things to talk to about and the woods being our best meeting room it was unusual.  but sometimes, it is silence that is most needed.

our path, like this stream, has zigged and zagged.  it has brought us past jagged rocky times and through sweet gentle lapping pools.  it has been lit by warm sun and darkened by the deep worry of late night.

but one thing is always consistent in the inconsistency of life.  no matter how we arrive in the woods, no matter the angst we bring.  arm in arm, because it is our habit, we walk through the woods.  arm in arm on the trail we silently hike toward quieting our hearts and minds.  under trees older than our troubles, arm in arm walking reaches past even anger-inspired words, things spoken in frustration.  arm in arm we remember all that is good, all that is certain.  the day’s hurdles and fears and unease fade as the sun sets.  and we zag.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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the wheels of change. [two artists tuesday]

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the tread matters not.  the wheels of change are constant.  fluid.  ever-rolling.

we have watched bristol woods change.  we hike there often and have gotten to know trees and turns in the trail personally.  many months ago we knew a decision was made to build a high ropes “adventure” course in part of the park.  we have watched its birth; we have witnessed the change.  the big machinery is out there.  gravel roads are cut.  trees have been removed.  tall poles have been installed and ropes are now hung between them.  the county’s position is that this will be a good thing, generating revenue that would go back into “upkeep and improvements”.

all this remains to be seen.  it would just be my hope that they haven’t lost sight of the simplest reasons for this place to exist, the quiet reasons, the pure reasons.  what is that expression….”penny wise, pound foolish.”  sometimes cutting corners or chasing the shiny new thing isn’t the wisest move in the long run.  you lose the sure foundation, not recognizing what it is you are losing, the steadfast movement underestimated, the maturity of the woods undervalued.  the wheels of change keep going and the concentric circles of impact widen ever-further out.  david’s mom uses the expression “ever-forward” when she signs an email.   sometimes forward is forward.  and sometimes forward is not so forward.

i can feel the wheels of change.  the tread, and therewith the pace, is not yet so evident to me.  i’m not sure if it’s road-bike-tire-thin or monster-650-tractor-tire-thick, but they are there, turning, turning.  ever-forward…

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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a small adjustment. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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we sat arm-in-arm in the megaphone.  we had been hiking in the snowy woods and it was the driest place to sit.  we’ve written about this megaphone before; it is a nature megaphone and it is supposed to amplify the sounds of nature from the woods and into the woods.  because someone didn’t maybe quite get the purpose, the megaphone is actually pulling sound from the street – a county highway through the woods on the narrow side of the amplifier, the side that draws in sound.  a small adjustment in its location would afford it the purpose for which it was designed.  it was built lovingly as an eagle scout project, but until this small adjustment in placement happens it will, unfortunately, not be as effective as it could be.

a small adjustment.  how many times would just a small adjustment create a path closer to success, a path more in alignment with purpose, a path that maximizes effectiveness, a megaphone that actually amplifies the amazing nature in the woods?  we get stuck in a line of thinking and, full-speed-ahead, think that is the only route, the only way.  until someone says something – a suggestion of a small adjustment – in thinking, in action, in REaction, in placement of our focus.  an ah-ha moment.

in the recording studio, as really in every musical performance, there is a groove.  it is the place where the tempo of the piece being played is “right”… everything comes together and syncs, the intent of the piece shines.  sensitive musicians and conductors can feel any deviation from that groove.  when it’s off, too slow, too fast, it doesn’t deliver the same emotional message.  just a slight adjustment brings it into center.

it’s the same with tuning.  A440 pitch is the universal standard tuning pitch.  a quarter tone off here or there makes a difference; not only can you hear this slight adjustment, but you can feel that the vibration is quivering, off its mark.

two people.  a difference of opinion.  the quivering vibration is palpable.  a small adjustment left or right, quietly spoken or wisely quiet, pivots them back to the heart-core, brings back solid ground.

that same kind of vibration…present in any gathering of people…in sync or magnets repelling each other…with underlying fields of pre-formed assumptions getting in the way of the small slight adjustments needed – the ah-ha’s – to be in actual alignment, stronger together than separate, amplifying the real sound of this earth – in the groove, in tune, on the mark, grounded, mutually, cooperatively, collaboratively on-purpose.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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transience. [k.s. friday]

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“…dawn turns to daylight. to dusk. to full darkness. always to dawn again…” (liner notes)

brad's snowman

brad built a snowman in the woods while we were snowshoeing.  with a nod to our wit and creative pet-names, he cleverly named it “snowman-snowman”.  he was a charming snowman and we lingered by him for a bit, all chatting in the quiet woods.  because he is, well, a snowman, we left him behind as we continued on the trails.

yesterday we went back to the woods.  there was still snow, even more in some places.  but when we got to the spot where the trails split off, i, sadly, saw that snowman-snowman was no longer there.  i didn’t talk about it.  the magic of snowman-snowman was still in the air despite his absence on the trail.

we hiked a bit farther into the woods and when we stopped for a moment, i started packing together some snow.  it was that really-good-packing-snow, so “valentino” came together easily.  we searched for his eyes and the perfect nose, tucked a feather-leaf in his ‘cap’ and fell in love with our little snowman.  his magic was instant.

our snowman

transient.  all daylight.  all snowmen.  all of us.  life.  it’s a minor key.  all-consumingly-beautiful.  gut-wrenchingly-fleeting.  every reason to revel in every ray of sun, build a snowman, embrace those you love, bravely live every moment.  even if our footprints aren’t still visible, our magic stays in the air.

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read DAVID’S thoughts on this ANNIVERSARY MELANGE K.S. FRIDAY

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TRANSIENCE from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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toward it. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

snowshoes with frame copy

“the weakest link,” i said, referring to myself as we spoke about the possibility of going snowshoeing.  i had never snowshoed before, but i was excited to try it.  we were planning on renting some snowshoes at a nature center and then snowshoeing through the woods.  but, in the typical manner of someone who has never tried something before, i was a little nervous about keeping up.  i’ve skied before – both downhill and cross-country – and i know it takes some concentrated ability to do it even partially well.  hence, the nerves about snowshoeing.  (do i need to take lessons?  is there a trick to this?  are there things i need to know about balance and leaning in and switching leads and and and?)

our best friends and david told me it was “like walking”.  i seriously doubted that.  i just knew that i would somehow be trailing behind, poles and snowshoes stuck in drifts, head over heels in the snow (literally).

but it didn’t turn out that way.  i worked at having a you-don’t-have-to-be-instantly-good-at-this-relax-kerri attitude all the way there.  i worried all the way there.  did i have the right boots on?  should i have worn a different jacket?  what kind of gloves would be best?  i complicated something that is actually not complicated.  but, even in the middle of my snowshoe-agonizing, i kept walking toward it.

and, ohmygosh, it was fabulous.  when i wrote to The Girl afterward, she referred to it as “your new fave winter activity”.   it is totally ranking up there, high on the list.  what better way to hike a few miles through snowy woods?  the trails were quiet, save for the punctuation of our laughter and the stops where we had lengthy conversations and brad built a snowman.  it was a brilliant day.

so many times we hesitate…we worry…we think we should already know how to do something or be instantly good at it…we resist trying something new….

i just want to say this:  walk toward it.  it could be an experience filled with quiet and laughter,  stretching of muscles intellectual or physical, simple beauty and fresh air in your lungs literal or figurative, and an i-can-do-this illumination.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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snowshoes ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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spider sisu. [two artists tuesday]

whoa….we saw one on the des plaines river trail and stopped short.  it looked like candy on the path, but on closer examination, we discovered it was a spider!  an orange spider.  it’s called a marbled orb-weaver.  and it’s pretty intense.  and, i suppose if you are not spider-phobic like me, it’s beautiful.

later that month, we were hiking at bristol woods, one of our favorite go-to places to hold staff meetings as we walk together.  out of the corner of my eye i caught the glimpse of bright movement in the air…sure enough, it was one of those marbled orb-weavers (doesn’t that just slip off your tongue? lol!)  it was dangling on a web-strand that was at least 5 stories high!  whattheheck!  this roly-poly little spider was bravely trying to reach a white mass that was a bit flattened (an egg cocoon with several hundred eggs, we read later) while being tossed about in the wind, up and down, sideways.

i could practically hear this spider whisper to itself, “gotta have sisu, gotta have sisu” as it climbed, bobbing, bobbing, up its long, high-above-the-ground web, finally reaching its cocoon and wrapping it close into its body.

wow.  what we do for our babies, eh?  amazing stuff.  the stuff of sisu.

marbled orb-weaver

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SPIDER SISU ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson


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amplified quiet. [two artists tuesday]

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having avoided the inevitable summer onslaught of mosquitoes in these woods, we recently went back to one of our favorite local hiking spots.  bristol woods – with the pringle nature preserve – is an easy decision for us, at any time of day that we can step away.  it is off the beaten path and serene and two loops through the trails give us about a five mile hike, a perfect revitalizing. we adore this place and the priceless quiet it affords us.

walking the trails recently, we came upon a wooden structure that invited me to go to the narrow end and speak into the woods…seemingly a megaphone, but a size we hadn’t seen before.  it’s a nature megaphone.  it draws in the sounds from around it and, as you sit inside, with the sun on your face, surrounds you with nature, amplified a bit closer and more personal.  this one needs to be turned around into the woods, as there is a busy road in the distance and it pulls in those sounds as well, but that’s a mere detail.  i love the concept.  a little googling shows that there are nature megaphones of great size in estonia, placed there for the healing power of the sounds of the outdoors, the quiet.  ahhh.

the other thing we notice as we walk are the red and green ribbons encircling trees, the little red flags planted in the dirt.  fearing what we had read earlier in the summer, we asked the naturalist what these ribbons and flags were for.  she verified our fears, telling us that they were markers for the new aerial ropes course that the county has decided to move forward.  the article states that there are no high ropes courses in the area; a very quick google search shows one in lake geneva and three (!) in east troy.  but money talks (is this shocking?) and the county will share in the gross revenueScreen Shot 2018-10-23 at 11.12.08 AMand the quiet of this small county park, the well-being of the wildlife in the woods, the educational value of a pristine teaching environment untouched by commercialism will all cease to exist. is  “teaching confidence” and “learning about yourself” not found in the quiet woods?  is a “family-oriented, wholesome” experience no longer a hike together?  what exactly does “putting people in touch with nature” mean?

while i don’t question the opportunity for learning that a high ropes course might afford children and adults on all different levels, i do question the sacrifice of an active nature facility and its woods for this purpose.  an official associated with the county is quoted as saying, “(bristol woods) is not going to be significantly impacted.”  hmmm.  i disagree.  during the construction of and upon the completion of the high ropes course, what sounds will be amplified in their beautiful new nature megaphone?

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