STAYING SANE AFTER AN ICE STORM

My advice is to do what I always do when battling problems.  Throw a little creativity into the mix.  Add, even if you are subtracting.  Less can be more.

With ice, it is the continual hauling and burning that makes one crazy.  Building something feels so much better, especially if you can repurpose what Nature chose to eliminate.

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This lonely start of a garden has been ignored for a decade or more.  It has possibilities, because the berm on which the evergreens are planted is higher than the rest of this sandy beach of acreage.  What it actually is, is the dirt that was removed to lay the foundation for the studio.  When we bought this place, it had been sitting there since 1978!   The trees which used to live in the footprint of the studio were likewise ignored and piled up in another place.  First thing I did as an owner was to burn all that up, becoming a conflagration professional.

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For a while, we had three tree-pees of cedar supporting scoppernong grape vines behind the low evergreens on the berm,  but they did not grow well and I hate those grapes anyway.   When the ice was finished and we started to clean up I tore those out,  plus the vines and other scrubby interlopers.  In a way, the ice made it easier to see what had to be removed.

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Strange, but much of the lanky unwanted stuff stealing the sun from a fine volunteer magnolia to the left of this picture, were about five small tree trunks growing from each of the damaged and felled trees during our MAJOR ice storm of 2004.  After clearing away this time, we painted the cuts with a chemical that will kill them.

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This berm garden will mirror another long garden which is between the studio and the house;  a helpful “repeat” in the allover landscape composition.

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The outside wall surrounding the pool is not pleasing in winter, and since it lost the biggest red bud last week, it is even sadder.  You can see the remaining trunk at the leftmost section of the wall.  These three red buds, one in each section between columns,  were a study in sunlight.  The surrounding woods affected the trio dramatically, the now lost tree ten times the size of the tree at the right.

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Above are some sections of the big red bud tree, doing another job in the landscape.  The surrounding of the circular gardens with logs started in 2004, in a former effort to feel better about all the ice damage.  We now add trunks to these circular boundaries whenever the woods provide.

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MAKING CONNECTIONS

Slightly sad when the power was finally connected, the emotion was surprising.  From Tuesday to Saturday my mind and experience was in the space connecting a book (two books really) and an ice storm.

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Knowledge is finding unknown connections between things, said the first female president of the University of Chicago, Hannah Gray, many of my lives ago.  Only now do I realize (plus the fact that the statement was remembered)  how pivotal these connective spaces are to me.  Could have had another life following that path.

I had been waiting for February 11 for a long time.  My current obsession is with hiking the Appalachian Trail including losing myself and testing myself.   The zen of activity.  Turns out 2/11 was a very busy day.  Finished hanging an exhibition looking skyward at ice, and attended the evening event for which I had been waiting.

Odyssa was coming to Orangeburg.  The big turnout was a tribute to her as we all prepared for the upcoming storm.

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Jennifer Pharr Davis spoke about so much more than exploring the trail.  She talked about achievement, oneness, surprising your limits, regulating yourself, looking in, looking out.  Making art does this to your mind.  I want to use my body for this too.

This young woman has found her perfect creative place, and cast a career around it.  She was inspiring, and we all went out into the first ice that evening blasting through our boundaries.

But she had led me further.  Deep into another book  “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, a person my age, another perspective was given.  There is of course, not only one way to do things.  Each person’s way is perfect for them.

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Bryson, and I was reading this book during the quarantine of the ice storm, speaks a lot about the life of the mind and soul on the trail, the strangeness of civilization when embraced for a break from the trail, and trying to keep a foot (so to speak) in both places.  He struggles.

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At the point of the fourth day without power and phone during the ice storm, I am no longer trying to switch on lights.  Enjoying the heating of water and cooking of food on a camp stove, a pattern of activity is emerging.  Hot water on my face is a delight.  Hauling fallen trees has replaced my running.  I am thinking about that trail doing all this work.

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I cooked two pounds of bacon yesterday morning, because it had to be, and after the meal clean up (a seriously late breakfast of bacon cheeseburgers), we were going to boil three chickens in a huge pot made for dipping turkeys in grease (hate the idea, love the pot).

Our friend drove up, the son of a neighbor, and said we would have power in 15 minutes.  We were just lighting the burner for the chicken.  We looked at each other.  We didn’t have to do it.  I felt a loss.

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Jennifer Davis described last Tuesday night the instant  she knew she had to hike the trail for an overall record (not just a women’s record).  She had hiked, sixteen hours a day the 2100 some miles, faster than any woman.  She touched that metal plate on the mountain in Georgia and she still had energy and strength in her body at that moment.  She had not been tested enough, and that was the germ of the new idea.

Yesterday, I felt the same way.