It is usually while I am walking, deep in the woods, that a word or phrase will come to me as a prompt for the next blog post. Most of the time it makes sense, becomes a perfect focus for bringing otherwise random thoughts together and helps maintain the flow of what is there. But in the past week when the word ‘punctuation’ kept appearing, I kept pushing it away. What a strange word. Even saying the four clumsy syllables out loud felt foreign, purposeless, without any redeeming quality whatsoever. I eventually started thinking about all the ways punctuation serves to shape writing and can give form to past, present, and future. If there was no punctuation there would be no way to pause, to take a breath, to let a thought or feeling evoked by the words sink in and settle.
Understanding how punctuation might serve in the visual world was trickier. Perception of a image involved non-hierarchical non-linear movement of the eyes. Where the eye pauses or stops is a function of how color and value and form interact. When done convincingly, it could be considered a form of punctuation. There was even a way to consider how punctuation might serve in the world of emotion. If we felt blissful all the time without the occasional pause or upset, would there be motivation for expressing gratitude, for seeking love, or opening to something new in joy.
I tried to imagine the energy of life as ALL flow and no pause.
I considered where punctuation served in my daily meanders through nature. I was particularly entranced with how the center of the paths were magically present after the two recent brief snows we’ve had, snow melted like a perfectly constructed sentence exactly where we typically walk. If the entire forest floor was covered in a uniform blanket of snow, I would surely need brackets to find my way. Now, the bends in these paths so clearly laid out in front of me like commas. My field of vision could extend just so far, forming a complete thought, until taking in the sight of the next bend.
Coming to the pond after these first nights of frost and freeze I found marks on the frozen surface that guided my eyes from one place to another.
I have long believed that the art in these moments lives in the space between my eye’s landings. The landings are the punctuation.
In contrast, the newly flowing waters in the brook after heavy rains and melting snow felt like the absence of all punctuation, where the swift motion connected rock and wood and air once again with it’s exuberant presence.
Either way, the multi-dimensional quality of experience here in these sacred lands is punctuated in unique ways each time. Spaces in between a sound and a sight, between a feeling and a sound, between the sky and the trees, or the water and the the earth, are entered into continuously. This is where the art of being in nature lives.
It is now morning after a deep freeze. Our walk is punctuated by howling wind above, as if the swirl on the pond yesterday has lifted off, leaving the surface there opaque, harder to read.
Finally, walking back into the house, I am excited to see if my new website has gone live. After a thirty year narrative of architecture career punctuated with quilt-making, I can finally see how this particular narrative would be completely illegible without this particular punctuation. It’s taken me a long time to get here.
I invite you to visit http://kathyford.net. See you there!