Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Harvest Time Musings

I just returned from a trip to the Yakima, WA area, with its beautiful tawny hills shaped like crouching mountain lions, and I discovered some things in an old travel journal about landscape.  This is a quote from a show I saw the tail end of in Anchorage, Alaska, about five years ago.  Andy Goldsworthy had done an art installation there, and the show was a collection of small photos and journal entries documenting his ephemeral work.  
“The landscape is a skin, permeable and fluid, fragile and wild...Explore the landscape as a body, breathing, fragile, punctured and worn.”
Landscape lays the groundwork, or the structure, for what comes after.  The landscape appears on the one hand to remain the same for long periods of time, when actually it is constantly reforming itself to match one’s perceptions.  Erosion, light, growth, decay, movement, seasonal, and occasionally catastrophic, events interplay with our psychological, sensual, and emotional responses to it.  I’ve watched the landscape of my heart change over the years.  The subarctic Alaskan landscape where I grew up used to call to me strongly when I was in my twenties and had recently left it.  Gradually that pull has lessened and transferred to Oregon where I’ve lived for thirty years.  The landscape of my heart keeps evolving and expanding, and is closely linked to memory.  It contains elements of my Alaskan roots, vague imprints of the lands important to my Scandinavian ancestors, and a bit of every place I have ever lived or experienced, brought to where I am now.
My old journal then recorded my reading of the book, The Secret Life of Dust.  It talked about billions of tons of dust continually cycling through the atmosphere--dust of every being that ever lived, every element, even the stars--from the beginning of time.  It changes one’s thinking about particles and the way things are composed.  Objects appearing solid, but really made up mostly of space.  Understanding how the elements of our world are put together, and how easily they are taken apart.  Impermanence.  Change.  “All we are is dust in the wind.”

At this time of year, when the winter storms begin and blow the leaves off the trees, the weather and the landscape trigger the natural impulse for inner reflection, to look deeper at the same time as being able to see deeper, down to the bones of the landscape, and beyond.
“The days grow short.
The sky speaks of winter.
Change hangs in the air like
          a question mark. 
The harvest is in, the season
          of waiting begins.
This is the tender time of the year
          when everything drops away.
Trees are left bare, only skeletons
            of continuity remain.
The impermanence of things is
            so visible, so unavoidable.
The winter heart feels the lengthening
            darkness and the turning of the sun.
We cannot yet know the gifts
            that darkness brings.”
----adapted from The Golden Time, Stephanie Kaza
Posted by jackie.

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