Listen, sometimes the deep well of creativity is pretty shallow, and blog posts can reflect that fact. It's not that there is necessarily a lack of creativity in my life right now, but rather, I've been working pretty intensely on a few projects as well as planning for upcoming ones. As a result, I feel kind of spent. So, this blog post and some of the ones before it are kind of thin with regard to interest and creative genius. I sincerely apologize!
Pat recommended for this post that I just post a picture of Spring Bird. So, I went out to our new bench, which was donated by a friend of Spring Bird (Thank you Chip!), to take its picture, and I fortunately was just in time to watch some deer romp through the woods. One juvenile was giving me some warning head bobs which I ignored. So, he or she snorted at me before running away.
Now that fall is here, the animals are showing themselves more frequently. It's a strange feeling, though, outside with this summer-like heat wave intensifying a crumbling, early fall. Our lack of rain seems to have put fall into overdrive. The contrast between experiences is adding to the frazzle of my brain.
Last night I saw four small raccoon siblings line up on a tree root facing the road at the edge of our property. The fourth climbed on top of a sibling because there wasn't room to be single file. I realized they were watching an animal which turned out to be their mother, the largest raccoon I'd ever seen! She saw me too and stood on hind legs to demonstrate her capacity to protect. After she determined I wasn't a threat, she ushered her babies through the fence to cross the road. She wouldn't turn her back to me until all four made it safely through.
We recently determined that Spring Bird has chipmunks not ground squirrels (for your information).
There have been flocks and flocks of birds coming through Spring Bird flying south, no doubt. They are incredibly active and talkative. You can get lost in watching them fly from branch to branch.
I just shooed a woodpecker from pecking at our house. He was on the brick part, too, which makes me think he might not be the smartest in his flock.
We are soaking walnut husks for dyeing yarn, and Pat is drying the nuts right now.
OK, that's about all of the news from Spring Bird. I hope to have something more thoughtful, composed, and interesting next week!!! What are you noticing near you?
Almost a year has passed since I began working full-time for myself, and it's be a real journey in creating rhythm of productivity. I am someone who has trouble relinquishing creative possibilities. I want to make and do everything in a variety of media and means and by every means of production. I really don't want to let any of them go. So I gave myself time to way-find-- to throw noodles on the wall and see what sticks. And as the year comes to an end, I realize I am getting closer at figuring out what is sticking. I'm trying my hardest to create in a genuine way as I search to determine what I can offer that also satiates a void in the world. It's starting to feel right and because everything in life is always ebbing and flowing, I'm taking this moment of this blog post to relish in this feeling of joy in finding my creative pathway. (I think.)
All of this long preamble to say that practicing mundane rituals has helped create structure within which I could throw those noodles. I live for mundane rituals. They are those small things that we do everyday that give us some sense of comfort and security. For many, myself included, coffee is a mundane morning ritual that I cherish. Everything from the process of brewing with a Bialetti coffee maker to choosing that day's mug brings me pure joy. (I'm sure the caffeine has something to with it, too!) In the afternoons, I drink tea and have started to brew tea from loose leaves harvested from garden grown herbs. Picking the garden is another ritual that I savor --especially when it's snipping blooms for a bouquet. It's only been in these last weeks of summer/early fall that I have really indulged this ritual. I sometimes have a hard time picking flowers because I love seeming them in their habitat, but nothing really beats a beautiful bouquet in the bedroom.
Another one I love is walking to the mailbox to retrieve the mail or leave a stamped envelope to be picked up -- not forgetting to raise the red flag. The animals demand lots of happy rituals of feeding, grooming, and petting. One of the reasons that I long for a dog is for the ritual of regular walks. There is something beautiful in practicing a ritual repeatedly that can ground you in life, give foundation for the creativity, and most serendipitous are the occasions when really paying attention to the moment, that I get to see or think something new that sparks a whole, fresh round of noodle throwing.
So, what sorts of rituals make your day?
The astronauts were summoned
to the pale blue dot-
to speak of stardust-
to call us earthlings-
to think macro thoughts of mercy and empathy-
They beg us to look-
one last time
I inherited a matchbook collection from my Father-in-law, which he had inherited it from his Uncle George. From what I can tell, George collected matchbooks from his daily interactions with Chicago-land businesses as well as from his travels throughout the United States and abroad. His collection includes matchbooks from the 40's through the 80's and features a myriad of products and services from cigarettes to antacids to to restaurants and everything in between. Perhaps most exciting is that on some of the restaurant and hotel matchbooks, George has written dates and little notes referring to his experiences there!
Not only is this collection a sampling of an obsolete advertising mechanism, but it's also a record of a George's life experiences. I can't help but imagine him eating at the various supper clubs and Tiki restaurants or checking out of the family owned motels that have now disappeared. Furthermore, it's a collection of how marketing and advertising created and supported racist and sexist social constructs as well as propagating, in the case of cigarettes, flagrant misinformation. It's hard to look at a cigarette ad that promotes healthy smoking and not question all of the advertising we encounter today.
It's impossible to ignore that the advertising on these little packets of fire starters was completely driven by the cigarette industry. Smoking was ubiquitous, and everyone needed a light. When the urge struck to smoke, a consumer would pull out a folded pack of possibility, hold it in her hand and gaze at a friendly greeting from a dry cleaners or a restaurant from Saturday's night out. The satisfaction from the cigarette ignition would imprint upon the product or service featured on the cardboard square. Forget the invention of fire, this is advertising ingenuity!
These days, it's rare to find matchbook advertising now that smoking is less popular, and I wonder what if anything has replaced this sort of genius, pocket approach to advertising. Perhaps the pop-up advertisements on our phones recreate the same positive associations with products and social media. Or, maybe social media itself has allowed businesses to encourage their consumers to do the legwork through tagging, posting, and Instagram modeling.
I'm sure there are some wonks in university advertising and marketing programs who are better equipped to answer these questions. What I'm really interested in, is closely studying these matchbooks as individuals inhabiting a collection. I wanted to share them with the world via Instagram (speaking of social media) in creating a virtual museum. If you are interested in following along, I've created George's Mini Matchbook Museum ---under the handle: www.instagram.com/matchbook_museum/. I'm posting a matchbook a day until I make it through the entire collection. I hope that the features of Instagram tagging and algorithms will help to connect George's museum to those interested in vintage advertising and U.S. culture after World War II. I'm excited to learn about both of these things as well as George, himself, through this investigative project.
Anna Lentz, artist and writer, blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.