Notes from a Tree/12

A bud in September (a budding September,

two-thousand and thirteen) –

delicate, yet sturdy

soft, green and furry

tempting

inquisitive

fingertips:

“Touch me.”

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The tree

– like the whole garden –

is a riot of vigorous green

like an orchestra

boisterous

clamouring

bursting towards my camera

willing me to capture it.

I try to.

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a riot of vigorous green

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boisterous, clamouring…

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bursting towards my camera

 

I am obsessed with this tree

obsessed with the shapes of its branches

which I photograph from every angle.

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the shapes of its branches

And the spaces in between its dancer’s gesturing arms

draw me

like Alice’s looking-glass.

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The spaces in between its arms

AWOL

I went down to Parsonage Gardens today to put up a new sign.  The Magnolia tree reminded me of our Christmas tree, once it had been stripped of all its decorations.  It looked kind of skinny, naked and shivery in the cold.  I wanted to throw a big jacket over its shoulders.  A very very large jacket.

I’ve never seen a jacket that large, actually.

Someone had taken down my previous sign.  Either that, or it had smudged, parted company with itself, perhaps even totally dissolved in the wind and the rain that has shaken and lashed this island in recent times.

I hadn’t been in touch since before Xmas, and wondered if I had been struck off the Old Parsonage’s agenda.

Moribund, I stepped closer to the tree, looking for a suitable site for my new offering – and was instantly cheered to see a determined cluster of snowdrops at its base.

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a determined cluster of snowdrops

Hope springs eternal, then.  Good.

As I gazed up at the tree’s higher reaches, its bony fingers reaching for the sky of bright, cold blue, I spotted the Mystery Shoe.  I haven’t written about that yet.  See if you can spot it.

the Mystery Shoe(i)

In case you can’t, here’s a clue…

Mystery Shoe

the Mystery Shoe (ii)

And here’s a close up.

the Mystery Shoe (detail)

the Mystery Shoe (detail)

More about that later.

I wanted to pin (ouch! -sorry) my new sign to the tree, because that’s what one does with Missing Pussycat signs.  But something told me I should seek permission first, so I did, and I haven’t been granted it yet, so watch this space, because I’m going back tomorrow.

And this is my Missing Pussycat sign.

Missing 1 (566x800)

That should do it.

Notes from a Tree/08

A different view

A different view

In August, I climbed higher than I had dared before

and earned myself a different view,

including one or two last

shy

magnolia

flowers

hiding

(out of my reach) – whose

siblings lay in petals

scattered on the ground.

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…petals scattered on the ground

Mid-month, the wind blew strongly

enough to make the boughs sway – and me with them.

It was a distinctly

unnerving

experience, and I clung on for

dear life (as did my new friends, the remaining magnolias).

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An unnerving experience

I  wondered what to do with the photographs I had started taking of the people who passed below.  Perhaps I would put them in a gallery called ‘Human Traffic’

– but what of the dogs and occasional wildlife I snapped?  Hmm.  

‘Non-Leopard Sightings’, or

‘Human Traffic (and Other Beasties)’

maybe.  

Divided into two categories:

‘Those Who Did’ and ‘Those Who Didn’t’ (notice me, that is).

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…notice me, that is.

Notes from a Tree/06

Here’s a drawing I made in my sketchbook during the last days of the exhibition. I’m looking down at the base of the tree, where it forks just above ground level.  It was difficult to convey the perspective.

Looking down at the base of the tree

Looking down at the base of the tree

As the end of the show drew closer, I felt sad at the thought of not being able to climb the magnolia tree any more (I did so, for those two weeks, by special permission).  It had been such a rich and unusual experience.  These are some of the things I gained from my performance:-

It brought me closer to nature.  Literally.  I had to hug the tree and wrap my limbs around it in order not to fall out.  I climbed barefoot, loving the feel of tree bark on the soles of my feet and against the palms of my hands and the tips of my fingers; loving the sensation of climbing, moving all four limbs in harmony, like an animal.

It showed me another perspective: that of an animal, a hunter in repose, watching the movements of others as they passed beneath me, or sat down to rest themselves, not knowing I was there.

It slowed down the pace of my life and my thoughts.  It gave me t-i-m-e to think, have ideas, make notes, draw, write poetree, etc.

It tickled me, it genuinely did.  It made me smile: here I was, putting myself on show in a public place, in such an absurd way – and unless I called out, most people passed by without noticing.  Bizarre!

I had some wonderful conversations with some of the people who did notice me.

A lady called Marguerite in conversation with a Leopard in Didsbury

A lady called Marguerite in conversation with a leopard (in Didsbury)

I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on my life, on the meaning of my performance, on the purposes of art… and on what I might have for dinner.

It brought me into the present moment, with its sunshine/cloud, birdsong, voices, next door’s lawnmower, aeroplanes overhead, summer breezes and so on.

It gave me a welcome break from phone calls, emails, text messages and facebook.  (I don’t do twitter. Whoever heard of a leopard tweeting?)

It was a bit like staging a personal, peaceful, one-woman protest against a world full of noise, technology, and bad news.

It gave me an excuse to do something socially unacceptable without being branded mentally ill.

Last in this list, but not least: it introduced me to some wonderful artists (my fellow exhibitors) and their work.

No wonder I didn’t want it to end.