A few of the house plants we have end up in my drawings regularly. I enjoy succulents and have 2 cacti plus other hardy souls. And, this summer, I branched out and added a colourful croton to the group. Here’s some appearances the various leaves have made over the past few months. The croton is first–imagine deep red, dark and lime greens and yellows. The other drawings show various succulents including jade plants, hoyas and sansevieria with a few long spider plant and African violet leaves in the backgrounds.
I’ve been drawing what’s around me–both grand and plain. When I’m at home, I enjoy paying attention to some of the things I see everyday that I might otherwise almost ignore. Here’s several felt pen drawings from August and October of objects in the apartment.
Here are 3 drawings I made earlier this month of an ornamental gourd I bought in the countryside. I love the wild shapes of the gourds of autumn. This one is yellow-orange and dark green, but I’ve focused on the shape and sketched it in black on white. I believe that when I was a child my mother lacquered ornamental gourds to preserve them longer at Halloween time.
Recently we traveled east of Toronto to Prince Edward County for a relaxed weekend. A highlight of our trip was a visit to the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory where they band birds so their migrations can be monitored. There we were given close instruction by a staff member and were able to release 2 blue jays. A big thrill for 2 city dwelling humans! We saw birds large and small including two male sharp shinned hawks who had flown into nets and been banded. Here’s a photo of the two hawks just before they were released.
Later, on our way back to Toronto, we stopped in at Presqu’ile Provincial Park and saw gorgeous views of the windswept beach being enjoyed by gulls and geese and a handful of humans.
We recently went to Algonquin Park, a few hours north of Toronto. Because of the very warm and, sometimes, hot autumn, the trees had hardly turned their usual bright colours. Apparently they began turning late in August when there was a cold spell and then stopped when the warm weather arrived. Nevertheless, we had a beautiful time in bright sun hiking through forests and by lakes. I made some quick sketches, this time with thin felt pens. These sketches continue to surprise me. As in Newfoundland, I found myself making minimal lines that, even without much detail, still bring back memories of the places I drew in and the feelings of being in nature, during these changes in our climate.
Here’s some photos and sketches from the trip:
The heat wave has now broken, but we had hot and extremely hot weather in Toronto over the past while. During that time, I took to walking in the streets in the evening to listen to the cicadas and crickets. I discovered, to my surprise, that I was present to listening to the sounds of the insects, birds, cars and people instead of shutting out the sounds of the city. This led me to record one of my walks, which then led me to listen to some forgotten recordings. One was of the poem in this post.
Several years ago, I spent a lot of time writing and I’d read versions of my poems out loud and record them to hear which version sounded best to me. Here’s a poem which will explain itself, followed by a recent drawing.
It’s October two thousand ten
and I’m to apply for the Old Age Security Pension,
a task made more difficult
by my originally being an immigrant
and having four different names on my papers.
These burrs that I’ve transported across borders
I now scatter on the table
as I decide which ones to carry with me,
in the hope I will be recognized
as the thread that links the different words
by which I have been known.
In the process, I contemplate my various selves,
the changing names silently
eliciting my youth and middle age
not so much in sadness as in a survey of absences.
At City Hall, I sit in a crowded room
under fluorescent lights.
I have anticipated the long wait
and help manage boredom and an undercurrent of rage
by doing crossword puzzles
and half listening to the reassuringly incomprehensible
that two young people are speaking
as they wait, likely for their marriage licence.
All of us, including the staff,
are in limbo
holding this edifice of record keeping in place,
keeping tabs on ourselves, faithlessly
leaving trails of our scant existence
on dry forms and flickering screens.
I am rescued, however, by the relief of drama.
Some people, no longer compliant, have bolted
or gone missing.
Three couples cannot be found
when their names are called for their marriage licences.
Perhaps they have broken off their engagements while waiting
or decided to live common law or
have merely gone outside for a smoke.
The staff person I eventually see is contained though cordial,
takes me for who I am
and needs few of my compiled documents.
I leave knowing I will soon receive
the form letter of approval for my pension.
Not a joyous occasion
but a quiet rite of passage
into the realm of official old age
that strange pale land in which death befriends us
whether we like its attentiveness or not
a land made more rich by its limits
and on the threshold of vast amounts of time,
oneness with ancestors human and non
and the blinding light that shields us from an unknown world.
©Lily S. May 2010 – 2014
There’s a young oak tree on one of the streets in my neighbourhood. I’ve brought home 2 sprigs of leaves that I’ve found on the sidewalk on my walks. I love oak leaves! And I’ve done a few drawings of them.
The first two are of a small bunch of leaves that I drew first with a bold pen and, the next day, with a finer line one. I did this to see what changing the tool would do to the rendition. A very different look and feel appeared.
This third sketch is of a larger sprig of leaves.