“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
What happens when the last leaf falls from a tree? Branches are crusted in ice and the fine dust of snow. Winter is upon us, and while I loathe the biting wind, the layers of clothes and wet boots, I’m also excited by the challenge winter brings.
How do we create in an environment where everything is dying?
Frozen rivers, barren trees, dead flowers. But in that death, there is reflection. Retreat. Contemplation. When the last leaf falls from the tree, what dies within us? And what remains alive? The tree is still sturdy and strong. The roots run deep beneath the frostbitten soil. Branches are bare. The tree is exposed to the elements. There is nowhere to hide. Each branch pricks the overcast sky, stunned into silence. And yet the tree survives.
Come spring, the ice thaws and new buds pop into colour.
As I walked through the ‘garden’ today, I came across tiny gems of ice, glinting in the sun. If the temperature dropped, they’d remain intact. But if the sun was strong enough, each gem would melt. Something had to be done with them. A tree bent over a frozen stream- a perfect specimen for an ‘artistic’ experiment. I attempted to balance each ice chip on the bough of the tree. One gem fell. Then another, and another. Soon they all fell. I had to start again. One accidental sweep of my jacket and again. One fell, two fell, three fell. Third time’s a charm? I don’t know. I don’t remember how many times I started again. I don’t remember how many times I dug through the frozen foliage on the ground to find these tiny ice pellets. My hands were becoming numb with each, gentle placement. And finally, they all stayed. Perfectly crooked. And somehow, they needed to be supported. The flow of their crookedness needed something to ground it. Stones. Tiny pebbles. One fell. Two fell. Three fell. And I started again. The process repeated itself until each stone remained intact, following the jagged edges of each miniature icicle.
So why on earth did I do this? What possessed me to stand outside in the cold, gloveless, to create a piece that may melt in the light of the morning sun?
Because it might melt in the morning sun.