The hill is in a field behind Margaret’s house. Shaded by the surrounding woods, the snow doesn’t melt there unless the temperature is above freezing for a while.
So it’s still deep enough for sledding.
Margaret used to own the bookstore in town. Jon has known her and her husband Bill, since he moved Upstate. During the summer we had socially distanced dinner on their screened-in porch. But we haven’t seen them since the weather got too cold to sit outside.
Then a couple of weeks ago Margaret asked me if I wanted to go sledding.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been sledding. Margaret, who is in her mid-seventies, usually goes with her grandchildren when they visit.
But that isn’t happening this year.
Wearing masks and keeping at least six feet apart, I chose the purple plastic sled and Margaret took the orange one from where she keeps them in the woodshed next to the front door.
We stood on the top of the hill which is steep enough to slide down but not too steep to walk back up. Margaret warned me of where the big holes were so I could avoid them. Then told me how she props her feet on the edge of the sled so she can use them to stop if all else fails. Otherwise, she’d end up in the trees and brambles.
Margaret went first. She expertly sailed straight down the hill and slowly came to a stop just before the tree line. I was impressed, she made it look easy.
When it was my turn, I flew down the hill out of control, circling to the right I practically had to turn myself over to stop.
As we dragged our sleds up the hill we talked about what was going on in our lives and in the country
On the way down the hill, everything vanished but my body bouncing over the snow trying to gain just enough control not to crash into brambles. It was like a quick-moving meditation, instantaneously throwing me into the moment.
We went up and down the hill for about a half-hour then took a walk. But before returning our sleds to the woodshed, we took one more slide down the hill.
If there wasn’t a pandemic going on, I don’t know that Margaret would even have thought to ask me to go sledding. And now it’s one of the few things we can do together.
Margaret invited me back again as I was leaving. And as long as the snow stays, I’ll take her up on her offer.
I wonder if next winter when the pandemic is hopefully under control, we’ll think to go sledding again. Maybe by then, we’ll just be thrilled to be able to go to lunch together. And sledding will just become a memory of these strange times.
First I poured boiling water into a cup filled with half a cup of black tea leaves. I brought it to my studio to steep. It’s still steeping. Tomorrow I’ll use it to tea stain the face of Owl Woman.
Then I stitched her eye. Two different browns, orange, metallic gold thread, and black marker for the pupil.
I woke up thinking about her. From 6:15 to 7 am, still half asleep, I pictured how I would stitch her eye and the color thread I’d use. Then the idea of using the same twisted pink yarn I outlined my “Cloud Is A Whisper” tree in, came to me. I imagined how I would sew it down, by hand. I saw her tea-stained face, darker than the tea staining I used on the woman in “Shield of Words“.
After that, in my mind, I tried a few different ways of applying the pieces of applique, that I had removed from the quilt to her dress. By the time I got up, I knew I would be sewing them down, using my free motions machine. I’d create a simplified feather design, leaving the edges untethered to give it a little extra dimension.
But by this afternoon, once I had actually sewed the feathers on, I moved onto the beak and owl eyes/breasts.
There was no question for me what the color of the beak should be. I saw it immediately.
I had a piece of fabric just the right balance of orange/yellow, but then found a piece of one of the collages I’d made earlier. It was the same color except it had some collage layering and I liked the weight and texture of it better than the fabric.
It’s on a piece of canvas with a layer of matt medium over it. I wanted to stitch it down with embroidery thread, but it was so thick I had to poke holes in it.
You can’t see it in this photo, but the blue fabric I used for the eyes/breasts is iridescent. I still have to sew the beads on at the centers, but I’m not completely sure about them yet.
This is what she looked like when I left my studio today. I don’t have any concrete idea how I’ll deal with her arms, legs, and feet yet. But I do know how to make her hair, so I’ll probably work on that next.
A dusting of snow left a circle of bare ground under the birdfeeder. The hens nibble on the seeds that fall there. When the snow is deeper they stay in the coop or go to the barn. There they scratch at the dirt floor, looking for insects and making nests even though they’re not laying eggs.
They don’t wander into the pasture or hang out on the porch this time of year. They stay close to the coop. Their winter home shrunken by the cold and snow.
I started to take apart the applique that I removed from the quilt that my Owl Woman is on. I pulled out each stitch that someone took so much time sewing together. Then I pinned them onto the Owl Womans’ dress to see what they’d look like.
Zinnia loves a good chase. She’ll leave the hens alone, as long as they’re not running. But when they run, she chases after them. She doesn’t hurt them, she seems more interested in the movement than anything else.
Today the hens were hanging out on top of the hay bales in the barn. Zinnia was checking them out, but they only calmly paced back and forth and she quickly lost interest.