Oh golly it is gray today. The pink zinnias and dahlias look good in gray. The reddening tomatoes gleam in this soft light. And my heart swells as I prepare to say goodbye to August, one of my favorite months… that leads in to another favorite month, September. I turn to digestion in this post and an appreciation of Backyard Art Camp.
I was in Wisconsin with my sisters at the beginning of this month on our yearly vacation. We cleared out Elsa’s garage and turned it in to an art studio for the week. The instinct to make things when we are together as never truly left us. When we were girls, we’d make all kinds of things together–snow forts, potholders, or sand castles. This year we made simple pamphlet stitch books from papers we painted with a simple technique of collage and acrylic paint spread with a used credit card. The results are so satisfying. And my niece Ella sewed her own Chain Stitch binding.
Then I came home to prepare for Backyard Art Camp. You all know how much I value real time art making, where in the company of others, we make something more than objects. We hold the space of sharing in circle, forging connections that infuse the artwork we do with the effulgent flow of spirit.
How do you digest a period of time, like August? What tools do you use to put an experience to bed? When I worked in theatre I became accustomed to “striking” a show, putting all the parts of it “to bed” which meant all the way away. It was the way we cleared the stage and all the working areas of the theatre and prepared to mount the next production. This is digestion, theatre-style.
But, we do this every single time we wash the dishes in the sink and wipe the table and counters, sweep the floor and shut off the lights in the kitchen. We close one meal and let the space be cleared before the next one begins.
However you frame the experience of savoring one experience in order to move forward cleanly in to the next, I believe it is really important to do. I learned from my friend and teacher, Regena Thomashauer, the importance of digestion. Without it, I get moody and sad to leave a place or experience and cannot fully turn my attention and focus towards what is next.
Does this happen to you?
August comes to a close and your thoughts are full of summer days that are hard to let go?
That afternoon you spent in a field with friends talking for hours, sharing one beer between you three?
This is where things like gratitude lists, thank you notes, wiping the kitchen table and refreshing the flowers in the vase all act as palate cleansers to clear the space of my heart, body, mind, or physical space and allow me time for digestion, so I can easily turn towards what is next.
I offer you these images of Backyard Art Camp as my digestion of an amazing gathering of women who let themselves in for a rich set of days in ritual and art making. The books they created over the course of our time together will bear witness to much new life and beginnings. We blessed them in our final circle as a way to celebrate and digest our time together. Rituals like that mark the special-ness of a time and allow us to feel complete, ready to move on.
It can be as simple as blowing out the candle after dinner is over. The meal is done, blessed, enjoyed, and now we shall move on.
I am blowing out the candle for August, with all of her river swims and sister days, all of the zinnias and Nicotiana blossoms nipped by hummingbirds, by all the ways my work rolled forward and the miles I drove to swim in my favorite lakes, Superior and Willoughby. I feel blessed by the days of August and all the people I spent them with.
Here is love and blessings to you, for all your August days.
And blessings for what is to come next, in September.