Temporal Matters

I am not at Ragdale; my residency doesn’t begin till next week, and ends a week later than I’d planned.  I’m blaming the hard drive crash for having the dates wrong on my calendar, but it’s probably just my brain.

This is good because it will be just a wee bit cooler, I’ll be in residence for optimum milkweed harvest time at the end, I am home for another week to eat my delicious tomato harvest and to make pesto from the big pot of basil (something I have not done in way too many years), and I have more time to practice integrating physical therapy into daily life. Unfortunately I learned this week that I will need to also find ways to do more work on an outside, non-art project during Ragdale time. Regardless, I’m packing and getting excited about the work I will be making, and simply about being in that gorgeous studio. There’s less prep than usual, because I will be coming into town once a week for PT sessions close to home.  Fibers and cooking pot are coming with me, so I can prepare beforehand to beat what I need as I need it while I’m off working on my knees.

This business of shifting bones is strange.  Already, I’ve run a gamut of sensations from the initial grinding pain to over a week of constant hot (literally hot, to the touch) ache in my knees to several days of having both legs feel dull, rubbery and leaden from the hips down. Currently, below the skin, my knees are numb. It’s weirdly interesting to experience. I am working on a lot of other things as well, but mornings are pretty much dedicated to therapy.  I won’t pretend that I don’t have to talk myself into it every single day.

Plants have things to teach us, particularly about time.  Today’s photos are of a ponytail palm I have had for ages. I bought it during a time of heartbreak, and since then, its presence has always enriched my winters. But, last summer I was so overbooked and frazzled that I never hauled it outdoors for its season of light and rain, and when I returned from Penland this spring, it was very nearly dead.  Three of its six branches had stopped producing, and the live ones only had thin, pale shoots left among dead leaves.  In May, I trimmed its roots, re-potted and it, and set it outside in a protected, shady spot.

The viable branches quickly began to re-grow, healthy and green. Just a few days ago, I turned the pot and saw that the branches I thought were dead have each sprouted; not three but four vigorous new shoots. It’s coming back more abundant than it ever has been, though in different directions, forming a new shape.

It tells me things, good things, about rehabilitating my own body.  I write about it here for friends who are now going through painful, fallow times. I’ve been saving its trimmings for a few seasons, and with all the dead leaves I took from it after Penland, I now have a pound of fiber to transform into paper, into something new. When I make that paper, some of it is coming to you.

Double!  And if you look in the center, a third beginning…five new branches.

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6 thoughts on “Temporal Matters

  1. WOW. i love that you can use the fiber for paper! the knee business is unreal, but i suppose it makes sense that the sensations are so strange and unexpected, as mostly we don’t consciously move bones around in our bodies.

  2. I love those palms: we had a monster one when I was a docent at the Queens Botanical Garden many years ago, and as you’ve discovered, they are practically indestructible. That you can, and will, use it as paper comes as no surprise. 🙂

    So, did my envelope arrive safe and sound yet?

  3. Y’all: Well, I know I have seen paper made from other types of palm leaves, and these look like good candidates, so I started saving them. It’ll be an experiment, and if it doesn’t work on its own, I’ll add other pulp.
    (Just for the hell of it, I googled ‘paper made from palms’ and didn’t find much, though I did find this:) http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_tree_is_paper_made_from

  4. i, too was saving palm leaves, for a long time, just threw them into the compost! good for you for making your way through this knee labyrinth. you are strengthening things and, WOW, moving things, too.

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