Tuesday, April 3, 2012

January Reflections

I have always loved January.


Maybe it's because I was born in this month.

Maybe it's because in January I remember to breathe again.


After all the exertion of December, it's nice to relax into the pause that is January.

In a normal year, the air is crisp, the wind blows and we often wake up to frost or a light dusting of snow...


We don't always get a lot of snow...sometimes just enough to ice the morning. And you have to be an early bird to see its magic before the mid-day sun burns it away.


I walk every day, even when it's bitter cold.

Walking every day joins me to the natural world in which I live, making me aware of which animals hibernate and which animals are out and about, sharing the chill.

There aren't many of us out and about so I can't help but feel some camaraderie towards them.



And I have grown to love the trees.

It's the trees that are ever-present.

I love to see their structures revealed, as they all stand straight and proud like a well-trained army.

Have you ever noticed that there aren't many crooked trees?

And if you do happen to find a tree that has tried to grow crookedly, it's not long before all the other trees whip the wayward soldier back in line and he's growing straight again.

Look for yourself. You'll see what I mean.


You may spy a crooked tendency down toward the tree's base but by the time you look up to the top of the tree, it's grown straight again. Right in line with all the others.

Which makes me think it's a lesson for parenting...

And it's not just the trees that are laid bare but the entire landscape.


Living on the ridge of a valley, I am surrounded by hills.

And it grounds me to see the boulders, cliffs and rocks uncovered along with the roots of trees.


They are the workhorses preventing erosion and holding it all together.

It amazes me to think that those rocks have been around since pre-Cambrian times...about 4 billion years ago.


Let's face it. Compared to 4 billion years, my life isn't even a flash in that pan. Ultimately, when all's said and done, I'm just the tiniest bit of fodder for trees and plants. Ergo I serve the earth...ergo, its rocks and trees.

See how my thoughts wander in January?

Are they really wandering or is the earth trying to tell me something?


I think it's the earth...sending me messages that help put my life in perspective.

That help to ground and guide me.

Without a doubt, January is beautiful to me with its shades of rock-gray and decaying-browns.

And I have learned to love a palette bereft of saturated color.


In January, I feel more clearly the import and contribution of the aging and dying earth. It helps me to be more gentle with my own aging body.

And all that contemplation of who I am and where I am going...

Which choices I am making and what remains undone...

Sets me on a renewed course...and I am helped along by the whispers of Mother Earth...and by the conversations I have held with the rocks and the trees..with those winter animals...that are sharing my life.


I'm not sure I believe in resolutions and a magic start date of January 1.

But I do believe in the power of January.

A quiet, contemplative respite from the frenetic world we have come to live in.


Tarnished silvers and grays and crystal and sparkle and taupes.

Cells decaying and being remade into new life and new ideas. Resting and conserving...and hiding...and reflecting...

That's January.

54 comments:

Daphne said...

This is just beautiful Susan! Love all the little details that you are always so good at capturing!

Rachel said...

What a beautifully meditative post, Susan. And the block itself has a wonderful fairytale quality.

Nancy said...

Beautiful thoughts and beautiful needlework!

Maureen said...

I'm speechless!!

Cathy Lloyd said...

Love the words of your post. Oh the needlework, oh the needlework! F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.

Linda H said...

Ditto all the above comments! I don't know which is more beautiful, your block or your words/thoughts. You rblock and stitching is so incredibly beautiful Susan, and yuor words adn thoughts even moreso. I too am speechless. Mahhhhvelous dahling, simply mahhhvelous...

Linda H said...

Clearly I can't spell today.... sorry...

Ati. said...

Like your reflections about January, well writen down! The needlework is as always: fabulous!

coral-seas said...

I really enjoy watching your projects progress and learning about your creative progress. But the end of a project, when everything is laid bare and your words explain all of the whys and wherefores, because everything is there for a reason. These are the posts that I drink in, reading and rereading and feasting my eyes on your beautiful embroidery.

Vicki W said...

Winter is my favorite time of year. I love the soft grays and browns. You captured the magic of the season perfectly. It's exquisite! I am so grateful that you share your work with us. I look forward to every post.

elle said...

Not only are you a very accomplished needle woman, you are a wise poetess.

Elmsley Rose said...

Love your pre-Cambrian rocks and bolders. Wonderful colour and texture choices!

Colorado Stitcher said...

WOW - you do great work!

Cath said...

Absolutely gorgeous. So many precious details.

Arlene White said...

Susan, this is got to be my favorite piece. I think I like it more than breakfast at Tiffany's. I too have a special place for Tree's and reading your blog about them here is so true. We've recently experienced a cyclone and now a mini tornado, and the trees just seem to make their way upward again after the debris is cleared.

Thanks so much, I just love it.

Arlene
http://arlenes-crafts.blogspot.com.au/

Sheila said...

I am reading Wabi Sabi by Leonard Koren right now. I'll send it on to you when I am finished with it.

Belated happy birthday!

Suztats said...

I love your January! All the hints of sparkle against the winter landscape, the freshly fallen snow that dusts the tree branches, and those rocks sticking out of the earth's crust. How appropriate that they are called bone, for they support the earth and all who trod upon it........
Your January is beautiful in its subtleties, it's whispers of life, the scurry of the underbrush as feet crunch upon the white snow....a gentle, quieter month when we take a breath, rest and refresh......beautiful!

Cari said...

Stunning...simply stunning piece. Eye candy and comforting words for the soul. Thank you so much for a wonderful journey. I am once again in AWE of your work. Hugs

Mary Ann said...

Absolutely beautiful...breath taking. I love all the tiny details...all adding to the whole.

FlowerLady said...

Wow, what a beautiful, thought provoking post, in word and pictures.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Have a lovely Easter ~ FlowerLady

Judy S. said...

Great post, Susan, and a fabulous block! However did you attach those rocks? Have a wonderful Easter.

Createology said...

Susan your words used to describe your thoughts and feelings are as beautiful as this block of fabric, beads, ribbon, threads and pieces of our earth that you so amazingly weave into a story of time and existence. I am so in awe of your incredible special talents. I will say again...your pieces of hand stitched art really should be in the Smithsonian for all to marvel upon.

Ingrid Mida said...

Dear Susan,
Your depiction of January is utterly breathtaking!
Btw, I picked up my embroidery needle and thread today and stitched during an entire day of presentations. i found it quite calming. I need to do more.
Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

Susan,
This piece is simply exquisite and your photographs of it divine. I will bookmark this post and revisit it when I need peace and renewal. Beautiful work, images and words .....
SusieW

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Its clear that your heart speaks through your work.

A metaphysical comparison of growing trees and raising children; images of the dying season that actually replenishes the earth and an aging body that finally realizes the importance of your place in the Universe.

January is but an awakening and a reminder to relax and re-charge, and didn't you enjoy the respite!
xx, Carol

Jenni said...

Oh WOW! Winter is such a magnificent time and you have captured it so beautifully.

Saturday Sequins said...

What a gorgeous, fantastic piece, Susan! I admire the love and care you put into every detail and the deeper meaning behind all the loveliness.

Faith said...

Wow! You almost make me love January. Whether I actually ever learn to love January or not, I do love this block. There's nothing not to like, not even my less-than-favorite color palette. It's so beautiful!

There are lots of wonderful words to describe your stitching, but if I have to choose one, it would be Elegant. I honestly don't think there is anyone else whose work I see, whose stitching is as elegant as yours. You set the standard. (And since this high standard does take time, is this going to be a 4-block or a 3-year quilt?)

Lorraine@creativedaily said...

This block is a true testament to choosing a theme and sticking with it! The colour choices, mood, choice and placement of elements combine to provide a lovely reflection of January.

Marjolein said...

WOW!!! This is so gorgeous!

Wendy said...

Wow. I was going to say "stunning" but it just doesn't cover it. This is just incredible - such detail, such perfect stitches, such life in the piece. And a little bunny, most things in life benefit from a bunny!

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing cq square, full of thought and beautiful intention. Thank you for sharing all the needle work and the mental work of this wonderful piece.

Lisa

Rose said...

Stunning! It's been wonderful watching this block progress!

Christie DescribeHappy said...

Just finding you for the first time and just awe struck at your work!! The details, the magic you capture, the thoughts you wrote to accompany it. Just beautiful. I'm following now and look forward to looking at your previous posts!

Coach Tina said...

I really like the details you put into your blocks. They are so beautiful! I really like this block-I love the little animals especially.

Catherine said...

I always find myself re~reading your posts and looking at the pictures over and over. Your thoughts and ideas are so intertwined with your work and this particular piece is one of my favorites! Oh, who am I kidding ~ I feel that way every time you finish a piece! ;)

JoWynn Johns said...

Aren't we fortunate to have Susan sharing her life and her work with us?

Elizabeth said...

Again, I am in total awe!!! your words and your stitching and your ingenuity !!! Happpy E Break!!!!!

Witch of Stitches said...

Just beautiful, but the owl and the tree are incredible! Stunning embroidery.

dollystar said...

Luxuoso esse trabalho; resultado final uma perfeita jóia. Parabéns
Dolly

kitblu said...

I echo all previous comments especially Susie W's words "peace" and "renewal". I think that is what people making resolutions are seeking. Christie's use of "magic" also holds true for me - fairy tales, parables, hobbits and "Watership Down".
Your use of colour evokes early winter, before the harsh reality of mud, trash and potholed streets.
I would appreciate a technique transfer from your mind and hands to mine. Oh, I forgot, that is not yet possible.
How about just the owl then?

Anonymous said...

Fascinating! and fun!

cass said...

Wow! this is beautiful, so much to take in, you could sit and watch it for hours. Thanks for showing us this masterpiece

Carey said...

This is the most beautiful embroidery I have ever seen. I just ordered the book you referenced and i will be following your blog for sure.

MollyMJ said...

WOWWWW!!! that's just AMAZING!!!!! Bravo!!!! I LOVE IT!!!

http://rukodelkimollymj.blogspot.com/

Renee said...

Your work is absolutely amazing. As a novice, creating my first crazy quilt, I find myself truly inspired by your work. Thanks so much for walking us through your methods. Thanks for sharing your beautiful creations!

-Renee
http://monkeyandmutt.blogspot.com/

Colleen Anderson said...

Susan, this is my first experience on your blog and viewing your SPECTACULAR work. Thank you so much for such beauty! I will be following you and your work regularly now...your style and thoughts speek to me...

Annette said...

OMG this site is pure heaven, yourwork is truly desert for me. I have just started Crazy Quilting and can see that I have along way to go but also how beautiful it is and your story to create them. Just can't say enough. Thanks for sharing your breath taking creations. xoxo Annette

Patricia said...

Hello !
it's a beautiful work !
Patricia

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This piece is exquisite. It made my heart go pitty patter. My son's birthday is tomorrow. January has always been special to me too.

Gina said...

This is absolutely beautiful!! I'm jealous of your talent and would love to be able to do work like this some day!
Gina

Annette said...

well here I am again looking at this beautiful piece. I am going to try and do a January block. this has been haunting me how pretty it is. Fingers crossed I won't embarrass myself. xoxo

Cathy Spivey Mendola said...

OH WOW! I am in awe of your work- this piece is simply amazing!! I am so blown away by the beauty of winter that this piece depicts.
I don't even know what else to say…I'm speechless.


june said...

Your work is unbelievable. I would love to have pattern(s)! Thank you for sharing. Hopefully it will inspire me to get back to embroidering.

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