In the upper quadrant of the United States, the Fall season is marked with certain signifiers, both human and in nature. There is a sudden quietness that permeates our island as the summer vacationers head back to their lives. Everything is a little bit more still, even the ocean seems to take a long deep breath out. The wild apple trees that run rampant here on trails, along roadways and by the sea are laden with small, tart apples ready for the picking. And there’s a chill in the air every morning reminding you of what’s to come. Each day the sun rises just a little bit slower and sets just a little bit quicker. As the human population reduces itself, the butterfly population increases two-fold. In September, we are inundated with Monarch butterflies as the final generation of the year prepares for its long journey south. Most exciting is when my favorite fruit, the husk (ground) cherry, is finally ripe and ready for eating.
But for me, the single most significant indicator that summer is indeed ending is the sudden presence of a multitude of bald eagles. I have read that you can watch the flock flying over Acadia National Park, just north of us, as they head south. Here, where the topography is a little less grand but just as inspiring, we always get a few stragglers looking for a treat. Sometimes, if the snack is really good they decide to stay - the entire winter. It was just the other day that two bald eagles were cajoled and harassed onto the top of a dead tree trunk near my house by the neighboring Ospreys. This time the Ospreys were able to put the eagles in their place. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
When I see these mammoth flying predators return, I know that lingering by the shore with a good book has transformed into shoveling raw nutrients into my ever-growing permaculture food garden. I don another layer of clothes, or two, grab an apple from the ancient tree and get to work mulching with seaweed, manure and leaves. I work up such a sweat that my clothes are dripping. As I work with the land, I know that I too am being readied for the future.
Deep in the forest, the spruce are burdened with seedlings ready to drop. As the foliage begins to fade and shrivel, the secret underpinnings of nature reveal themselves again. It is a magical time and I love walking in the forest to see the action there. This could not occur at any other time of year. The happenings of autumn are perfectly in sync with what needs to occur for progress. I have learned to really pay attention to this and apply it in my daily life, specifically in the studio. To go against the nature of the way things should be is to work against yourself.
In the studio, I have been engaged in an internal battle. I am in the process of making a series of new works that takes time, a lot of time. And yet, there is the urgent need to get work out now. To show it, present something, to maintain the public persona. For me, I realize this is a socially-constructed need that has nothing to do with what has to get done. What I want is to give this new work, this pivot in my “practice”, space and lots of time. Allow the work to dictate when its ready, not outside conditions, even those I have compiled myself.
As the two bald eagles landed on their usual resting branch, eyeing my smaller animals, I knew that it was time. Time for a shift. Time to let go. Time to give the work exactly what it needs. Without constraint.
It is the perfect time.
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