Good day on this fine Spring Equinox. I hope this letter finds you packing away that winter coat and fortifying yourself in sunlight.
Over the past months my husband and I have visited this empty grass field to look for hawks — they often fly here before dusk.
In order to see the birds, we must wait quietly for what can feel, at first, like a long time. For me, there’s some initial impatience since I’m not used to sitting still. But after awhile I surrender and find a kind of peace looking out into the grasses, having to wait for the wildness that may or may not show. It’s an outward opening to the world that feels opposite to my usual task-focused state of mind. Also I like having a chance to wear this large hat:)
I’m currently in love with a podcast called The Slow Down by poet Tracy K. Smith. These are five-minute bits about life plus a poem. It’s a wonderful daily meditation.
Speaking of meditation, I’m recently back from a one-week writing residency at the Weymouth Center for the Art and Humanities in North Carolina. They have the loveliest rooms.
While I was there, I met two writers also staying there: Marjorie Hudson, who has the most delightful collection of short stories called Accidental Birds of the Carolinas, and writer and teacher, Kevin Mcllvoy, who did a fantastic reading from his book, At the Gate of All Wonder. It is a special pleasure to talk shop with other writers and I enjoyed my time with them as much as the precious week I had to think deeply about my novel in progress.
In other news, I’m excited to be a small part of an upcoming writing retreat that begins on June 1 at Moravian College with a keynote address by Susan Straight: “Geography of Home and Soul”. The keynote is free and open to the public, so please come! The writer’s retreat follows from June 2 through 8th at the Highlights Foundation in Honesdale, PA and will be led by myself along with local writers Ruth Knafo Setton, and Kate Racculia. This retreat will be offered again, so if you didn’t get to apply this year, stay tuned for next.
My friend and artist Lauren Kindle took me to the Barnes Foundation to see the work of Berthe Morisot (1841–1895). My favorite pieces of hers have a sketch-like, unfinished quality, as though she wanted to capture life in flux. Here’s a quote of hers that I can relate to:
“. . . . Indefinitely prolonged idleness would be fatal to me from every point of view.”
—Berthe Morisot, 1871
I think Berthe’s self portrait captures her spirit:
Locally, my friend Ellyn Siftar will have a solo exhibit at Moravian College on March 22 from 6-8PM. She describes her exhibit as “a culmination of a 9 month research project into the work of philosopher Robert S. Corrington who suggests there are sacred folds within nature which contain and emit the semiotic material valuable for the process of psychic selving.” The objects Ellyn has created for her show “reflect a wrestling with personal memory and a cathartic shedding of the past by manipulating and ordering memories in ways that are life-giving and full of promise.” Ellyn’s a lovely, thoughtful person and seeing her work in person will no doubt be an enriching experience. I can’t wait!
Enjoy the full moon tonight and wishing you and yours sunshine and flowers,
My dear friends, I hope you’re having a joyful holiday season. Late dawns and early sunsets invite glorious candlelight. Winter is a good time to rest, and even hibernate some. Darkness brings people together. It doesn’t get much cozier than mulled wine by the fire with friends and family.
The talented poet, BJ Ward, taught a creative nonfiction class I took this fall. Check out his poem called, Christmas Eve: In Defense of the Overly Exuberant Lawn Decorations Around Washington, New Jersey🙂
In other news, I’m headed to the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities for a one-week writers-in-residency stay. The main character of my new novel is a furniture maker and so I’ve been spending time reading up on the craft and hanging out with my friend Bob in his shop trying to learn a little more about making stuff out of wood.
My friend Barbara Bjerring has an art studio (called Deeply Flawed) right across the road from my house. I visited her there recently and had camomile tea in one of her handmade mugs. About making art she says, “The artwork comes from an interest in the existence of two simultaneous realities; what we choose to show of ourselves, that which is safe, and what we obscure, that which is dangerous.” More of her ceramics, prints, and fiber art are here.
Another of my neighbors in town is the gifted artist and art teacher Sharon Ferguson. She did these chalk drawings on a blackboard. I’m completely in awe.
My series of narrative paper quilts is coming together and will be shown from March 2 – May 11, 2018 at Nurture Nature Center in Easton, PA. This project is inspired by six women who, like me, are both artists and scientists. At its heart, the quilt series is about identity gained through breaking barriers. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the art quilts in the series:
This newsletter comes out four times a year on solstices and equinoxes. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can do that here.
Warm wishes to you and yours,