reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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slow down. [two artists tuesday]

curvy road

you have to slow down.  as you drive in door county toward the ferry dock on the southern side of death’s door, the road begins to curve.  it is imperative to slow down.  after you arrive at the dock, as you wait for the ferry, IF you have a signal, you google the route, wondering.  you find:

“Jens Jensen was a vehement believer in the power of nature to enrich the lives of men and women. His parks are famous for their water features, rock gardens, and meandering paths meant to mimic and incorporate nature rather than shape it.”

it is said that this scandinavian man (a landscape architect) designed this road to do just that:  enrich people’s lives by nature.  slow them down.  i give a lot of credit to a person who chose to do what was likely an unpopular decision in a society that wants to get as-quickly-as-possible from point a to point b.  slowing people down takes some guts.  (have you ever driven the speed limit in the fast lane?)

i tend to go slower than d.  we are both project-driven and completion-oriented.  but once he is on a mission, he is relatively unstoppable.  he likens it to being OCD (i’m not sure i’d entirely agree) but his focus is intense and he, like many, is not as tangential or multi-tasking-ish as i am.  he doesn’t circle around or circle back like i do.  it makes me wonder if circling is perceived as intense as straight-line-aheading, but i digress.

each time we have driven the road to the ferry that takes us to our little island i have thought about stopping and taking a picture of it.  many people are parked on the side of the road, pausing to do just that, trying to wait until all the cars are gone and there aren’t other people standing in the middle of the road photographing the ideal photograph.  i have joked about how they should maybe buy a postcard, but then, it’s not their personal moment and i really understand that.

the other day, because this route has grown on me and because it is really beautiful, i thought again about stopping to take a picture, to remember…all the times we have driven this way.  i drove past the curvy part and then, because there was this nagging debate in my brain, said, “would you mind if we went back so i could get a picture?”  of course, d’s answer was, “no, turn around!  we’re in no hurry!”  so i did.  i circled back.  i stood in the road and waited until there were no other cars or other people standing in the middle of the lane.  i could smell the colors of the fall leaves, could feel the briskness of air and the smile of the sun, knew the ferry to the island was at the other end of the curves.

the idea of decelerating people to appreciate nature and moments in it speaks to me.  the idea of incorporating nature rather than shaping it speaks to me.  believing in the power of nature speaks to me. i vote with jens – slow down.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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spring stripes. [two artists tuesday]

nature's stripes copy

stripes copy

you have to admit – the first set of stripes is way more interesting than the second.  the first set. in the woods.  the color combinations.  all alive with hue and subtlety.  the second set.  static.  no air.  no depth.  no variance.

this weekend, on a warm-day hike along the expanding des plaines river, the colors were spectacular.  the blue-purple of the water late in the afternoon.  the fresh-baby-grass-green of the small island across the river.  sky blue, white clouds, golden sunlight.  it wasn’t capture-able on film.  you just had to stand there and breathe it in.  stripes, patterns, shadows, delicate light, elusive dark.

by hiking often on the same trails, we can see the minor changes along the way.  we take note of them, commenting on a felled tree or more water in a pond or a new nest high in some branches.  there’s more mud, there are goslings, the daffodils are in full bloom, the groundcover is rich.  the earth coming back out of fallow.  winter’s rest is over; spring’s explosion has arrived.

for us, these winter-spring-summer-fall hikes are necessary.  they allow us to see, outside of ourselves; they allow us to process good earth growth and change and color.  for us, these hikes are like a security blanket.  they soothe worries, sort problems, wrap gently around us.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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a few warts. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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a burl on a tree is caused by the tree undergoing some form of stress.  indeed, if this were true for humans, we would be loaded with burls.  instead, our burls are inner-burls.  they don’t generally manifest as growths on the outside or present as small or large bark-covered lumpy warts.  instead, our worry makes us lose sleep, have intestinal issues and headaches.  it makes us eat too much, pour the glass of wine a bit too early, seek medicinal solutions or drugged numbing.  it makes us argue and lash out, insist on our own way, slam doors both figurative and literal.  it causes sickness, physical exhaustion, loss of relationship or work or time in our lives.  we become afraid to share our burls with the ‘outside’, scarcely making headway, fearful of the opinion of others, confused by the wart in our lives.

we should be like trees.  the burls cover with bark, insulating from the outside yet evident to the outside.  they grow in response to the stress of disease or injury or insects, but a tree may continue to live with these burls indefinitely.   actually removing the burl exposes the tree to infection. the burl wood is prized, with swirling grain patterns.  often, burls are harvested (both legally and illegally), with stunning furniture and wooden bowls the goal of burl-wood-turners.  these trees stand tall and mighty, growing from seedlings, co-existing with disease, injury, insects and, even, together with trees more beautiful sans burls. they wear their wrinkled protuberances with grace.  they don’t rid themselves of the evidence of life amid stressors, seeking botox to hide irregularities and minimize affirmation of living.  instead they continue on, growing and growing and growing – despite a few warts.

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

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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?

read DAVID’S post on this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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trees and angels. [merely a thought monday]

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“how was your week?” jonathan asked.  we rolled our eyes.  he was unpacking his bass while i uncovered the piano and d adjusted the mic stands.  he said, “tell me about it.  you guys always have great stories!”  eh.  great stories.  more like mini soap operas, you might think schadenfreude applies here (where he might derive some pleasure from our angst) but on the total other side of the spectrum, we have agreed that jonathan is an angel.  i wonder if, as he drives away in his subaru outback, he turns the corner and POOF! he disappears.

“it’s ok,” he says.  “trees must split their bark to grow.  there is pain.”

i can’t remember ever truly thinking about this.  but…i immediately pictured a beautiful sapling, our own “breck”.  a baby aspen we brought back from colorado, we have been nurturing it for over a year now, watching it carefully -and proudly, like parents- through the seasons.  the smooth bark on its adolescent trunk glows in the sunlight and we worry as we see this summer take its toll on the young tree’s leaves.  we notice little scions near its base, our aspen sending out roots to perpetuate itself.

i think of all the walks in the woods, the trails in the forest, the old trees in our yard and neighborhood and i can picture the rough bark, the puzzle pieces up and down the trunk of each tree.  somewhere along time, these trees, too, had smooth skins.  and then, in growing, the cambium layer’s cells, just under the bark, divided and grew, adding girth to the tree’s diameter in the process.  the outer bark continued to protect this inner layer of growth.  the job of that outer bark is forefront, keeping the inner tree healthy, as it experiences pain from the environment.  and the tree grows.

the bark.  the cambium.  the heart of growth.  and angels.

thank you for the perspective-arranging, jonathan.  again.

read DAVID’S thoughts on this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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pay attention to nature… [flawed cartoon wednesday]

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ohmygosh.  this was my swan song every time we left the house when The Girl and The Boy were little.  this is our swan song before we leave the house now.  every time.  some things don’t change.  i know this has nothing to do with this flawed cartoon and the instincts of birds flying south (or the technology they pay attention to), but middle age and its challenges -and joys- dictate what i pay attention to.   and the common theme songs are hot flashes and restroom locations.  sheesh!

we have a group of friends that all go together to a winter festival up north a bit.  we literally PLAN where we are stopping for the “rest” stop and snacks.  and it’s only an hour and fifteen minutes away!  we don’t have devices to alert us.  they are not necessary.  besides, charlie refuses to have any of that confounded stuff.

yup. sometimes nature and people and even geese don’t really need technology.

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find love everywhere [two artists tuesday]

uncropped acorn love

i am a scavenger.  i readily admit it.  it’s not like you don’t know.  you have read posts about my pieces of wood or sticks or rocks or feathers; i have even posted photographs of how these things decorate our home.  but i am always looking…keeping an eye out for something else i can bring home.  something that is natural.   something that will remind me of time spent.  something i really treasure.  and every now and then, i will find a heart – that nature, in its infinite wisdom, has left behind.  a gentle reminder that love is everywhere.

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find love everywhere ©️ 2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson