Helderland

Helderland 1
 

It was like a fairy tale. Through a remarkable string of coincidences I found this place, my ancestral farm in Norway. It felt unreasonably familiar—a piece of myself that I hadn’t even realized was missing. These mighty “helder,” giants of stone, inhabit the fearsome landscape of the norse legends. Cows, sheep, goats have for millennia grazed the meadows between the giants; trees grow right out of them. Every mountain, hill, peninsula and cove, river and rivulet has a name given eons ago. Were the names given by people or did the land name itself? Yes.

It was life changing for me to draw in this place, to be welcomed by both the land and the people. Something awakened in my soul, in my very bones. The flame of it has burned within me ever since.

A force of nature

Levity

Levity is a force in the natural world.

I am only beginning to comprehend it. We are aware of gravity’s draw down, and accept it as law—yet spring’s levity draws up and out, defying gravity. The very name “spring” counters “fall.” Sap rises in the trees (think about that), buds unfurl into leaves and blossoms. In places where the ground has frozen in the winter, the frost goes out in the spring, heaving the earth’s surface, loosening the soil, even lifting rocks and boulders.

It’s enough to lift anyone’s mood!

Shine!

The Lily.JPG

The word Easter comes from the Middle English word ester, from the Old English eastre, from the Indo-European aus: “to shine.” The celebrations might predate humans. Here in the northern hemisphere the days are lengthening rapidly as the hours of sunlight increase. And even though I have experienced this phenomenon every year of my life, I am yet again as amazed as if it had never happened before—”Look! It’s still light!”

Escape!

Yellow Escaping

It’s the unsettled month of March, blowing like a lion one moment and gentle as a lamb the next. The daffodils are now in full bloom with their lovely soft scent. The goldfinches are switching from their winter brown to their brilliant yellow plumage. When there’s a break in the clouds the yellow sun pours through the windows. We’re on the eve of the spring equinox, and yellow is bursting its winter confines!

Pele

Pele

The first time I painted outdoors was on the north shore of the island of Kauai, under the brooding presence of the mighty Pele. In the Hawaiian religion, Pele (pronounced [ˈpɛlɛ]), the Fire Goddess, is the goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands. She begets her own weather, generating rainstorms that send torrents lashing down her sides; her peak is the wettest place on earth. As I settled myself on the beach and began painting, the massive cloud cloaking the volcano darkened. Her wind picked up, lifting the paint on my damp paper—suddenly I was not only painting Pele, I was painting with her. She decided where the paint would go, not I. It was quite the initiation to painting on site—to paint with a volcano is humbling.

March

Mossy Branch/daily sketchjournal

March. March is mud month in the midwest, where I hail from. The deep frost is thawing, refreezing, heaving. Here in western Oregon we have little hard frost, but lots of rain, and by March the hillside that I live on has water pouring off of it, and plenty of mud. The trees are green with the mosses and lichens that cover their branches year around. I might be green myself. I know I’m muddy.