Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 4: Walk, make with what's there

I hope it doesn't ruin the spontaneity of the project, but tying things in with books requires a little planning ahead. The prompt for today was to take a short walk and then make something with the materials there where you were. It's mostly residential around here, and I didn't feel like getting in trouble for making something on somebody's lawn. A short walk from our place, though, there's a big wooded lot that's been continuously up for sale since I moved here ten years ago. It's a big enough spot you can walk in far enough to be surrounded by trees, and I've used the area for a nature background for some costume photos, and a close place to go to just sit and be away from things for a while. It was thinking about that need for a private retreat from the world that made me think of the book 'The Secret Garden'.

I don't seem to have a copy of the book anymore, which is a little distressing, because I know I read it several times over as a kid. There's something about that universal (at least I hope it is) desire for a private nature-y place to just escape from things for a little while. I know I've always felt that urge strongly, and I grew up making forts and houses and tunnels out of the blackberry brambles at the edge of our yard. They defied every attempt my dad made to get rid of them (including the time he accidentally burned half the hillside; they grew back thicker and faster than ever), but in my own way I tamed them into dream-houses and secret retreats. There was something about weaving them out of the living vines that was important and a part of what made them special.
When I went out today, I wasn't sure what I was going to actually make. Early March woods perfectly echo the story, though, with everything still bare and the ground covered in the ruins of winter. Only a few scattered plants are starting to show the return to life and hints of spring. The ground is covered with dead leaves and downed branches, and we had major thunderstorms last night that left everything wet and big mud puddles in the hollows of the ground. I picked up a few big branches, trying to work out what to do, when I saw a giant branch that broke and tipped downward, but didn't quite disconnect from the tree. The upside-down branches formed a natural cone, big enough to stand and sit comfortably inside of. I dragged other fallen branches over to cover the holes, and wove smaller ones to reinforce it all, leaving a doorway big enough to duck through. It seemed important to only use the branches I found lying on the ground, and not break anything living. You never know what's still 'wick', alive inside and preparing to come back for the spring. There was some holly growing up through one side of the structure, which I didn't want to damage.
It was freeing to work at something I haven't done since I was a child. I wouldn't expect it to keep out the elements, by any means, but for just a little while it might be enough to keep out the world.


  1. I need to get a copy of it again! Time to rummage the local used bookstores...