Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tempestuous Spring, Drawing, Leaves, Laura and Kindness.

9th October, afternoon sketch of silver birch trees.

Tempestuous Spring, with great swirling weather systems spinning like merry go rounds, cartwheeling Antarctic chill to freeze our toes, followed by gusts of warmth from over the Tasman to trick us that summer is knocking on our door!

Plants awakening, grass growing, rapid seasons of colour. Yellow of daffodils and gorse. Blue of bluebells and periwinkle. Red of tulips and pink of japonica. The sulfurous yellow and green-yellow of Kowhai (Sophora microphylla). The lettuce greens of new willow leaves.




Sunshine, impossibly bright. Then leaky fat clouds spilling rain.
Lawns busy with blackbirds looking for waterlogged worms like uniformed forensic teams grid searching a crime scene.

Apple blossom, first an impossibly pretty pink, then opening and softening to a foamy white.

Cherry blossom, all frills and show on the ornamental ones up the street, and white and simple on our own wild ones. The ornamental cherries are spectacular, but I like the more humble wild ones better, they are trees of the hedgerow, happy in company with plum, pear and hawthorn.

I have been doing more drawing than potting since I last posted something on my blog. With just a good quality hard backed sketch book, an old fashioned ink pen, a camping chair to sit on, and Mr Smaug the cat for company, I can wonder off into our little half acre of woodland and set up in the shade somewhere, and spend a happy hour or two at a drawing. I am finding the simplicity of pen and ink an absorbing challenge. There is just the white of the paper, and a scribble of thin black lines to express light and shadow, empty space and solid mass. There is a temptation to try to fill too much in, but I am finding that it is better to let the picture "breath", to leave some empty paper, and not to over saturate the shadows. There is always a great deal to learn, but nature is a great teacher, and it is best to simply sit at her feet and do your very best!

I mention photos, and I have been taking them with enthusiasm, there is so much to capture at this time of the year. Leaves - wonderful things - and a delight to see trees that have been fast asleep for the winter, begin to break into leaf. First there is the swelling of the buds, then, remarkably quickly, these open, and a tree can look so different in only a matter of a few hours.

 Hornbeam (Carpinus betula)

Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa)

Cherry plum

Grey Alder (Alnus incana)

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Horse Chestnut leaves from below.
September was rather a difficult month, unfortunately poor Laura had to have fairly extensive abdominal surgery in a hurry. She was really knocked around by it all, but is almost back to health again now. In the first couple of weeks when she was home from the hospital and still needed a lot of looking after, there would often be a knock at the door and someone would drop off soup or a cooked meal with an explanation that usually ran along the lines of, "I had one of these left over", or "There was not enough room in our freezer so thought you would like one of this." We even had a bag of groceries left for us in our mail box, and we still don't know where it came from. These thoughtful, kind deeds made such a difference to us, and we are very thankful.

Laura is back to doing some gentle weeding in the garden, a little bit of craft work and lots of reading with Nigella Stopit keeping her company. With all the ups and downs we haven't been opening the gallery door very often, but we are still here!



Anna said...

So sorry to hear of Laura's woes and wish her a full recovery very soon.
How lovely to have such good friends and neighbours to help ease the load of being unwell. I heard someone remark that we have had a proper Spring this year (the drought broke in Sydney) your flowers and new leaves seem to say that too.

Barbara Rogers said...

Good post for me to read on a rainy fall (somewhat chilly finally) morning in North Carolina. We haven't had much of a fall, because a lot of rain and warm temps have plagued us. I love thinking of the waiting as spring finally comes through with all its colors...and you gave me some beautiful photos. Drawing is such a good meditation.

Arkansas Patti said...

So very sorry Laura has had a bit of a go with surgery and hope she is almost back to normal. Isn't it wonderful when people step up and lend a hand without your asking?? Sending her healing hugs.
Enjoyed your visit with spring as we are facing fall and the winter doldrums.
Love your sketch. Nice to have an alternative talent to enjoy when taking a break.

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear that things are getting back to normal for you, and that Spring has sprung in the Southern Hemisphere!

gz said...

Hope Laura keeps healing well. Neighbours showing their true worth..can't fault it!

Thankyou for all those photos...keeps my inspiration and hope going as we huddle away from the gales.

Drawing? I love using pen and ink too..but I'm getting out of practice,shame to say. It does keep the eye:hand:brain co-ordination on its toes.

Peter said...

Hi Anna,
I'll pass on your best wishes to Laura. She's doing OK, but does get tired quite quickly. The spring flowers and some warmer days that bless us when the wind is from the right direction are doing her a lot of good.

Hi Barbara,
The US have certainly been battered of late by some frightening weather. I guess that where you are you probably miss the most severe of it, but still get the torrential rain and gales. All that moisture doesn't make for great Fall colour! Glad you enjoyed the Spring photos.

Hi Patti,
Healing hugs for Laura will be greatly appreciated! People have been so very kind and it is one of those times when living in a small community for a great many years is a blessing. People really care. The sketching has been great really, it is something that I never seemed to find the time for when I was busy with the potting and even wondered if I would ever get round to it again. It is nice to have it back!

Hi Anonymous,
Good to hear from you. Yes, Spring has sprung here, and it really was a lovely Spring day today, rather than a wintry one! Just been outside enjoying the very last of the evening light before the sun went down. A bit chilly, but glorious lighting on our silver birch and gum trees.

Hi Gwynneth,
Drawing and eye:hand:brain.... yes it does seem to help. I find that my visual memory definitely improves a bit too. Glad that the photos give some hope of better times as gales rattle and roar!

Linda Starr said...

Oh boy Peter, the two of you have really had it rough, so glad Laura is on the mend, she shouldn't over do the weeding after abdominal surgery. I enjoyed reading about all the spring surprises and especially liked seeing all the tree leaves; amazing you know each one in detail as to their varieties. Was so happy to see your birch drawing, just lovely. I hope you post more of the ink drawings. Is that what they call India ink? I took a class one summer in grade school and thoroughly enjoyed it; we focused mostly on architectural drawings because the school yard was practically barren of plant life. At first the perspective was hard to grasp but then it became easy with practice. wonderful you have such kind neighbors to help the two of you see your way through. My best to you both and the furry ones as well.

Michèle Hastings said...

Sorry to hear of Laura's surgery, but glad she is recuperating. It's wonderful to have thoughtful neighbors.
Taking pen to paper can be a welcome break from making pots. For me it often brings new inspiration when I get my hands back in clay.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,

Good to hear from you, September was certainly a month best forgotten in some respects, but still some moments to cherish in the midst of all the difficulties, especially the kindness of friends, neighbours, family and strangers! Laura is definitely weeding with some care, but good for her to feel the earth on her fingers and to be nurturing her Spring flowers which are a delight.

It will be fun to put some more drawings up here as a sort of visual diary and to be able to record the changing season in the garden, as well as any progress with the drawing skills!

India ink is right I think, although the ink might be made anywhere and sometimes is known as Chinese ink! It is really a non waterproof ink that is essentially carbon with some sort of binder (a plant gum or glue) to hold it together.

Kind Thoughts from all of us here, two legged and four legged!

Hi Michèle,
Good to hear from you. I see that you and Jeff have been busy with an exhibition, and I hope it goes well for you both.

Interesting that you also do some drawing. I sadly neglected that side of life when I was potting full time and I can see it would have been good to have fitted it in somehow!

Thoughtful friends, neighbours, strangers and family are a real treasure!

cookingwithgas said...

I wish you both some good thoughts and some healing. I have found that paper and a good pencil have seen me through some bad times. That and picture taking- feeding the soul.
Best wishes, enjoy your spring.

Peter said...

Thank you Meredith, good thoughts and healing are much appreciated :-)
The simple things in life are often the best, and it is lovely how just paper and a pen or pencil can be so satisfying, and neither need electricity and an expensive gadget to run them!

Regarding potting, I'm getting quite an urge to move one of my kick wheels outside under a simple roof to keep out the worst of the weather, so that I can just make pots with earth at my feet and the sound of birds and breeze in the trees. Then fire the pots in the wood fired kiln as simply as possible. I might even do it!

Kind Thoughts to you,

Unknown said...

Like the variety of marks that you have used in your drawing Peter. Great to see you writing again . All the best. Charlie

Melissa Rohrer said...

I love your line about the blackbirds!

Sometimes people know just when a little help is needed. That was heartening to read.

Peter said...

Hi Charlie,
Thank you for your encouragement regarding writing and drawing, it is good to hear from you.

Hi Melissa,
The blackbirds certainly look like they are wearing police uniforms when they do their grid search for worms! Amazing numbers of them the other day after some rain.

Anonymous said...

Peter, you are a very talented man. I love the drawing you shared in the blog, wow! So sorry to hear about Laura’s sudden surgery and really glad to hear that she is on the mend. I send the two of you a version of the Buddhist loving kindness prayer: May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be safe, and may you be at ease. I find this lovely little prayer has made its way into my heart in the last last several years and is wonderful in a subtle way, yet very powerful at the same time. And I’m not religious in the least, go figure. Take care my friend, cheers from Owen in Oregon

Peter said...

Hi Owen,
You are a wonderful encouragement! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I do like that loving kindness prayer, it does gently bless those things that are at the essence of a happy life, thank you for sending it our way!
Kind Thoughts,

Unknown said...

Hello Peter and Laura, I've just discovered your blog, and am very sorry to hear of your health issues. Life can be very unpredictable and challenging, but ultimately reinvigorated by simple acts of kindness and enjoyment in quieter pleasures closer to home. I'm enjoying ag the moment beautiful flowering tulips that I planted in a gorgeous large terracotta pot you made me, I put a photo of it on my Instagram post today, @renfrewgarden if you can see it. I'm so pleased with it! My best wishes to you both! Jacqui Reith, Dunedin