seeing wind

I just finished quilting a piece that has been in the works on and off over the past two years. Inspired by a random placement of scraps and falling within the parameters of my mandala series, the waves of circular hand quilting just kept spiraling out of the center,

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resolving with a windmill effect of evenly spaced lines alternating directions from corner to corner…

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The thing about a quilt is that the time and space created with the stitching actually makes it possible to emerge with a completely different perception from that which it began with. It is possible to become so completely absorbed in the rhythm of the stitches and forget what the image actually is.  Only the color and texture of the moment are real.  For me, quilting stitches are the core energy of a piece, the thing that makes it truly come alive.  It is a profoundly intimate experience, hands moving to the wave of thread weaving in and out of fabric…

It was late last night when I finally put it up on the wall to consider what to bind the unfinished edges with, stared at the image for awhile like an objective observer seeing it for the first time, and went to bed feeling something familiar I couldn’t name.

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Nora and I had had another long walk deep into the woods in my neighborhood earlier in the day. I love the fact that neighbors offer access to their land generously and feel free to roam to my heart’s content. It was a gray day with swiftly moving clouds and the sound of wind marking our progress. The whistle and swirl of tree tops swaying soon became the rhythm guiding my pace. It is a sound that is out there and at the same time vibrating through branches and trunks through to roots deep in the earth. It is such a sacred sound, poignant in a way that makes me want to start swaying too. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember. The sound of wind in the woods always evokes the swirl of something deep in my belly.  And the spring warmth of the air moving inside my open jacket and the smell of pine and bark and dormant spring life was also making this particular experience a rich one.

Arriving at the pond, I watched the water rippling in this wind too.

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It’s such a direct way to ‘see wind’ this way. No amount of waiting to capture the swaying of tree branches can yield such clarity. Not for lack of trying though. I sat there with camera focused on the wildly swaying branches (yes, they really were swaying!)next to me and click, the image offered no hint of the rush of air that was actually there.

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Turning back to gaze at the truth of wind living in the pond, and as if it wasn’t enough to see the wind blowing across the water in one direction, a gust from another direction registered it’s presence perfectly like this…

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I was seeing wind.

Arriving home, I looked up into the sound whirling through the wide berth of sky above my meadow and saw two hawks riding the airstream of wind that was blowing there too, dipping and soaring like the elegant gliders they are born to be.

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I realize gazing at the quilt this next morning that the familiarity I feel is in seeing simultaneously the outstretched winds of a hawk in a cross current of air.  It is a unique moment to rest in. I am seeing wind here too. With this recognition, the telltale swirl in my belly begins. Synchronicity or coincidence? And, is it still art when the sight or sound or feel or taste of something registers so viscerally and then in the blink of an eye, passes?

Whichever, I do know I am now able to see wind a whole new way….

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