Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Value of Slow, Ponderous Walks and a Sense of Curiosity

I have been living in New Zealand for almost a month now, and will be here until he end of February. The happy reason for coming was the birth of our grandson, but staying in a new-to-us place - Wellington - and visiting new beaches and taking new walks, reminds me again that one of the benefits of travel is a sharpening in my sense of observation. After getting my bearings in a new landscape, getting my feet solidly on the ground, I begin to notice details in a new way. Photos that show beautiful vistas remind me later of what lovely places I've been able to visit, but it's when I start noticing the details, the particulars of my new world, that I begin to connect with it.
For example, these gorgeous orange daisy-like flowers - I've still to find out what they're called - grow along the side of the road, just before it dips down onto a craggy beach. The flowers only open toward the sun, and close up tight on cloudy days. Their leaves are like succulents, and they must be incredibly tenacious, to withstand the onslaught of the "Welly wind". I could have come and gone from this place without ever noticing them, but slow, ponderous walks have allowed me to discover them.
There are all sorts of grasses here too, most notably the flax that grows at such interesting angles along the beaches and in gardens. And even the manhole covers are note-worthy. This is one of several I've seen with Maori designs on them. And of course there are all sorts of shells. I'd never noticed before that mussel shells eventually get worn away to reveal an indigo inner coat. And just here on the beach in front of us divers hunt for paua, or abilone, as we would call it. And what has all of this got to do with quilting? I'm really not sure, except that there's something about being present and being curious about and taking note of where one is that is inextricably linked to making art. 
When I collect stones or shells or take photos of wildflowers, I often don't have an exact purpose in mind for them. It's more about me being interested in where I am right now, and in what I see here. It has something to do with being open to surprises. And it's got a lot to do with treasuring and cultivating a sense of wonder. Collecting comes into the picture too, as though I'm looking for a way to remember or to mark my exploring, and to recall what I find that's important to me. 
As for my stitching, I've just finished the final block on my Traveller's Blanket, and more red and orange and pink blocks have been pieced and added for the work up on my design wall. Next week I'll be ready to share more about both with you.

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