As spring gently glides into summer, I’m thrillled to report that for once in over a decade, spring has actually been spring with only a handful of scorcher, orange alert days here in “Hotlanta.” Spending 99% of our time at home as we do, it has been nothing short of glorious. My shaded back yard in the urban forest doesn’t produce many blooms, but it is wildly lush and green.
The barred owls of our block, X and Henrietta, hoot frequently, making our dogs bark their heads off, a task that comes all too naturally to Shelties. This year’s young male cardinal is spectacular and perches often (but not long enough for me to photograph) on the small tree just on the other side of the window from my drawing table. There is a fledgeling red tailed hawk hunting over the tops of our water oak trees. Our fish pond, that I dug 22 springs ago, is sporting two frogs that we hear but never catch sight of as they fly and plop into the water to avoid us mammals. There is a delightful swarm of baby dragon flies in love with the geranium on my deck, and for the first time in ages the lightening bugs flicker at dusk. Ever since my now 21 year old son could talk, they are officially “bugning lights.”
Warm days never cease to remind me of my early childhood and the sense of freedom of being able to play seemingly unsupervised under the back yard trees of my youth (my mother occasionally stalked me from the kitchen window). The grass’ dew creeping into the toes of my sandals is still a palpable sensation as is the ability to get myself going in the swing without having to wait for a push. I used to pack my own lunch and head out to my playhouse turned art studio. Each morning as I carry my tea tray into my grown up studio and savor the relative calm of creative time alone, I remember that some things don’t change all that much.
These are the long days that lead up to my favorite time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, lulling me into the belief that I can create more before the sun sets. On the way to the solstice is also the day that marks another ellipse around the sun for me. I’ve never been afraid of birthdays, well, perhaps not thrilled at some of them, but not afraid. I’m now getting to that range of time when I’m just grateful to celebrate more of them in relatively good health. 55 and counting, hurtling through our solar system at what feels every bit like 67,000 mph an hour.
I don’t tend to reflect on previous years at New Year’s like many “normal” people do. – Normal is not a state of being or even a pre-pandemic state of the world; normal is merely one setting on a washing machine. – Instead I tend to reflect around my birthday probably because a significant chunk of my brain still counts mental time based on the school year of my adolescence and the sense of freedom that began with presents, most of which were art supplies, and a solid chocolate cake topped with pink icing roses made by my grandmother Johnnie Jo and a chocolate iced, chocolate pound cake made by my grandmother Margaret. Not a bad kick off to summer.
Needless to say this last year has been another doozy. The successes have involved a lot more drawing and painting and my first ever tattoo design now inked on my friend Valerie’s arm, interspersed with an enormous amount of metalsmithing demo video recordings I’ve produced for my online classes. The off camera areas of my studio are in constant transition (read they’re a mess!), and slowly…slowly many a house project has been completed. Mostly though what I have embraced about this past year is my own eccentricity. Call it the result of having long crossed that 50 yard line and ditching the filter that comes with age. Ok, so my being eccentric, outrageous even, has never exactly been under wraps (ever), but embracing it can be challenging.
Normal is not a state of being or even a pre-pandemic state of the world; normal is merely one setting on a washing machine.
To that end, one morning I stalked my friend Nick’s Etsy shop to see if his preliminary drawing for the Strategist card in his recently released Archeo: Personal Archetype Cards was still available. It had sold, and I was devastated. But there, looking like a wonderfully maniacal steam punk wonder, was a drawing for the Eccentric Archeo card. No question. I had to have it. It was a steal, and I’m confident I can carve out some prominent wall space somewhere (!) in this art-filled house to give due reverence to the drawing and its none too subtle meaning.
When the drawing arrived in packaging worthy, as always, of a decorated letter from Griffin to Sabine, my husband Chris, who is usually so very careful not to interrupt my work, processed into the studio with a smug look on his face and the lovely envelope extended in front of him. With it came the delightful card pictured here. Chris teased that I probably don’t require encouragement, and yet embodying eccentricity involves a fully fledged commitment to giving the proverbial, giant, middle finger to society’s shoulds and our dysfunctional Puritan work ethic. Being truly eccentric takes mentally wrapping my arms around that idea and celebrating my own unique gifts regardless of how others see them.
May your own elliptical paths around our fiery core be wildly eccentric and may we all celebrate the wild creative quirkiness in everyone.