"A blog is to a writer what a canvas is to an artist." ~ Colleen Redman
At the Live Butterfly Garden in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, I learned that blue butterflies are common in South America.
The Common Blue Morpho is a trickster, though. It’s brown on the outside and only shows its iridescent blue when it opens its wings.
Blue Morpho’s are not shy butterflies and are likely to land on you, especially if you’re wearing a blue shirt.
“It reminds me of a kite,” I said to Joe about this one. He looked up the name and it was “paper kite.”
This one looks like it lost some of its purple spots.
I remember thinking that the museum butterflies were more prone to stay posed than the ones in my backyard. I felt sad to learn that they only live for a few weeks.
We had four hours for each two days we were in D.C. to see museum exhibits. It worked because of the internet and planning what I wanted to see ahead of time. The live butterfly show was among the top three on my list (THIS was #1 and THIS was also in the top 3).
The exhibit didn’t disappoint.
HERE is a good write-up and video clip of the Smithsonian’s Live Butterfly Pavilion.
Students at Springhouse Community School created a story script and crankie show based on an interview with a local farmer who recently placed his farm under a conservation easement with the New River Land Trust. They built the crankie, an old time instrument for scrolling art and screening shadow puppets, with the help of project advisers and community mentors. They also arranged and performed a song written by the farmer, which is shown in video #2. More about Springhouse, a project-based high school at the Floyd EcoVillage HERE. You can read a recent post about the September Floyd Radio Show HERE. Watch for a story on the students performance in this week’s Floyd Press.
While in D.C. visiting the art museums, we made a point to go to the Hirshhorn Museum. You can’t miss the Hirshhorn because the building is round.
Upstairs, we saw an exhibit called Speculative Forms, which was displayed on two floors. Some of the pieces made me gasp, crave to touch or chuckle out loud to myself.
Seeing art in the round makes for a unique viewing experience.
HERE is Hirshhorn Highlights Part I, an account of the downstairs exhibit, a bold installation titled Belief + Doubt = Sanity by Barbara Kruger.
We had a special reason for visiting the Hirshhorn, which also encompasses sprawling grounds and a Sculpture Garden of masterpieces. For years I’ve been reading Naomi Caryl’s blog, Here in the Hills and her posts of the Hirshhorn opening, among other topics and accounts of her life growing up and as a performer/artist in Hollywood. Naomi, who Joe and I were blessed to visit in 2012, is the daughter of Joseph Hirshhorn, whose donations of collected art led to the museum being built. Check out scenes from our visit with Naomi in “Seeing Stars” HERE.
How’s this for a Sunday Shadow Shot? It’s The Great Warrior of Montauban by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle and was a gift of Joseph Hirshhorn.
This sculpure of Rodin’s “Les Bourgeois de Calais,” was especially meaningful for me to see. I remembered seeing it on Naomi’s blog when it was in her father’s garden at his Greenwich, Connecticut estate. She also had a picture of her father standing with it HERE.
A shipbuilder from Maine,who was visiting the museum, explained the story behind the scene. Completed in 1889 the monument depicts an occurrence in 1347 during the Hundred Years’ War when Calais, an important French port, was under siege and leaders (feeling certain they were facing their deaths) were ordered to surrender and walk through the city wearing nooses around their necks and carrying keys to the city. Obviously a fan of Rodin’s sculpture, the shipbuilder knew when most of his famous works were made, when they were cast and how many casts were allowed.
Here’s Joe with Rodin’s Walking Man.
I also loved seeing this piece, The King and Queen by Henry Moore, because I remember seeing it on Naomi’s blog at her father’s home and at the museum opening. Naomi wrote about it and other pieces HERE.
Here’s what the Hirshhorn brochure says: “The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the Smithsonian’s museum of international modern and contemporary art. The Museum opened on October 1, 1974, as the result of the efforts and generosity of American entrepreneur and philanthropist Joseph H. Hirshhorn (1899-1981), who donated his collection to the Smithsonian in 1966.” The sculpture above is pictured in THIS post by Naomi about the 1974 opening.
Joseph Hirshhorn also bequeathed another 6,000 pieces of art after his death. All toll, it is likely to be the largest amount of art given to the United States by an individual. What an amazing gift that is enjoyed by so many and will be for many years to come.
Coming soon: I will be posting photos of Dan Graham’s “For Gordon Bunshaft.” It’s the piece done with two-way mirrors, steel, wood and stone pictured on the left in photo #5. We had a lot of fun photographing ghostly shots reflected in the work, which was acquired by the bequest of Joseph Hirshhorn after his death, along with museum purchase funds.
Even the escalators seem like part of the art installations at the Hirshhorn Art Museum in D.C.
Is that a real bathroom sign or part of the exhibit?
Hey, where can I get linoleum like that?
I love larger than life Alice in Wonderland installations that stretch the boundaries of reality.
According to exhibiting artist Barbara Kruger, Belief + Doubt = Sanity.
After enjoying this exhibit in the lower level of the Hirshhorn Museum and buying a Kruger postcard that said “Don’t Be a Jerk,” we went upstairs and saw the Speculative Forms exhibit. We also spent time in the Hirshhorn’s renowned Sculpture Garden and took pictures for our blogger friend Naomi at Here in the Hills. Naomi is the daughter of Joseph Hirshhorn, who donated his large collection of art to the Smithsonian in 1966 and was instrumental in the founding of the Hirshhorn. - Hirshhorn Highlights Part II is HERE.
_____Our World Tuesday
1. Time feels shorter because at my age it really is, and solitude is like sugar, something I can’t get enough of because it’s an easy rut and more of it isn’t what I really need.
2. The best compliment comment of the week came with my shadow shot photography at the art galleries in D.C. when a reader wrote, “You made your own art in addition to viewing what was on display!” See HERE.
3. I’ve always believed that if you have a good thought about somebody, such as ‘you look nice today,’ or ‘you did a good job,’ the compliment that comes through you actually belongs to the other person and to hold it back is a little like stealing.
4. After having new carpet installed in the living room and bedroom and then getting new furniture in the kitchen, which involved the emptying of drawers sorting through clutter and living out of boxes for few weeks, Joe finally sat at the new, impressive kitchen table and said, “I feel like a king.” “I feel like Cinderella,” I answered, referring to the all the work the changes took.
5. From my Dharmacratic poet friend Will: Our words “satisfied”, and “sad” are actually closely connected, both coming from more ancient words meaning “enough”, or to have had one’s fill of something. The word “saturate” is also from the same roots. The end of summer and beginning of fall brings this thought to my mind. Another dark, cool, rainy day here in the Blue Ridge and everything is going to seed, storing the lessons and energy of the past season in preparation for next; letting go and falling to Earth. The excesses of summer’s bounty are rotting on the ground. It has been plenty. Enough! now. I feel sadisfied.
6. New word used on Facebook by my friend Pat Woodruff: Cluckle, the sound a flock of turkeys makes.
7. Andrew Wyeth was home-schooled. So was Ansel Adams, Robert Frost, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Frank Lloyd Wright, Whoopie Goldberg, Alan Alda, several presidents and more.
8. ”Mom, school is like being in the army. They make you stand in lines.” - My son Dylan upon starting public school in the 5th grade after homeschooling and going to Blue Mountain School.
9. When it comes to life I don’t do a lot of homework but I pay attention in class.
11. THIS so puts the wind in my sails.
12. Message to Summer: Close the Door on Your Way Out HERE.
13. I want a poem I can live happily ever after with even if we fight, a poem that will talk to me but one that won’t say what it thinks I want to hear.
- The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on September 11, 2014
The Floyd Radio Show at the Country Store opened the first show of its fourth season in old time tradition with a variety of musical performances, announcements ripped from the Floyd headlines, radio skits, letters from camp and more.
Spoken word poet and storyteller with a rural Southern twist, Minton Sparks, captivated the crowd with her dramatic performances, which were accompanied by John Jackson, a Nashville-based guitarist who toured with Bob Dylan from 1991 – 96.
Taking on the characters of her stories, Sparks donned tap shoes and demonstrated buck dancing (like flat footing) for one performance. Another involved the inheritance of her “mama’s genuine leather pocketbook,” referred to at one point as “a Tennessee tote bag.” It was “a bone bag that dangled from her wrist for years, like a growth” and held butter rum lifesavers, shed keys, waddled up Kleenex and a secret.
Impressive duet performances by Mac and Jenny Traynham and Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle, the hosts and writers of the Radio Show, ranged from fun-loving to hard times ballads and were streamed live online.
Mac Traynham changed the lyrics to an old blues tune, “All I Got is Gone,” singing “I lost my job. I lost my home. I lost my hair. Now I lost my comb.” LaPrelle, who has appeared on Prairie Home Companion, surprised and delighted the audience with her impressions of Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan and William Shatner in a spot that involved guessing the real life story, one out of three, told by John Jackson.
Showcasing their outstanding harmonies, Roberts-Gevalt and LaPrelle repeated their rendition of “Jealous Hearted Blues” in the second hour of the program, when a first performance of the song was not recorded due to a thunder and lighting storm going on outside.
The variety show format included a segment of home-groan jokes, a shout-out to Coach Beale – who was said to be grieving after Floyd’s recent football loss to Galax – and a news take-off on Virginia current events with allegations of a local scandal. “Looks like the mayor’s been enjoying a steady stream of fruitcakes and cookies recently,” reported Jenny Traynham. Mac went on to report that the mayor’s wife was caught giving out secret recipes and that Ladies Club of Floyd may have been meeting in the Town Hall basement for secret Bingo games.
Near the end of the first hour, Mayor Will Griffin presented Sparks and Jackson with a key of the Town. “It’s a real key. I bought it this morning at the hardware store,” he later said.
Note: The Floyd Radio Show is a first Saturday monthly event. Check the Floyd Country Store website (floydcountrystore.com) for a list of upcoming guest performers. – Colleen Redman
Post notes: The next Radio Show will happen on October 4th, at 7:30 pm and will feature, among other acts, a performance by students from Springhouse Community School that my husband co-founded. The performance will involve a story creation and a crankie based on an interview with a local farmer who has a conservation easement on his land that’s been in his family for centuries. Radio Show hosts Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Gevalt-Roberts, and Andrea Langston of the New River Land Trust have been working with the students. More on the radio show HERE. Visit the Springhouse Community School on Facebook or check out their webpage HERE.
The word glorious came to mind: a bounty of apples picked with our precious grandsons in our favorite abandoned orchard.
“I’m taking some good Andrew Wyeth shots,” I said to Joe, who was reassuring three-year-old Liam that the grazing cows wouldn’t hurt us.
Our favorite “golden tree” stood alone in the sun-filled pasture. It had the best tasting apples of the day.
It was a fairy tale setting in which a monarch butterfly and a small flock of bluebirds flew by.
The rolling mountain countryside had us so enchanted that we all started talking with an Irish lilt.
The boys learned to avoid fresh cow patties and listened to stories about Robin Hood and his merry men. “I just saw a real cricket,” said Bryce, who walked with a big stick for knocking down apples. He remembered being at the orchard when he was not quite three. He had a big stick then, too. See HERE.
“I wish daddy was here,” said Liam, who beamed when his hopa (Joe) helped him climb a tree. Liam decided he would pick his daddy six apples. “How about sixteen,” I suggested. “Sixty!” shouted Opa. Sixty is was.
“One day you could make this your place, not abandoned anymore,” Bryce said. Liam agreed that we should build a house right next to our favorite apple tree.
______Our World Tuesday
Taken at the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum in D.C. More to come… Shadow Shot Sunday
“What we do today will affect our water quality for centuries.” - Mark Sowers, Floyd dairy farmer.
-The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on September 18, 2005
A scientist, a poet, musicians, biologists and farmers were all part of a Sunday afternoon presentation on the future of Floyd County water. Held at the Floyd EcoVillage, the event featured the premiere showing of “To the Last Drop: Floyd’s Water Future,” an educational and inspirational film that was set in Floyd and focused on Floyd residents talking about water as a valuable and vulnerable resource.
Dubbed as a locally grown film, the documentary was created by Virginia Tech videographers, Grazia Apolinares and Chris Risch. The Floyd cast included Fred First, an author and biologist; Jeff Walker, a soil scientist; Lydeana Martin, Floyd’s Community and Economic Development Director; Jane Cundiff, a Radford University biology professor; dairy farmers Mark Grimm and Mark Sowers; vegetable farmer Dennis Dove, Jack Wall of the Floyd EcoVillage and Woody Crenshaw of Riverstone Farm and the Floyd Country Store. John Gannon, a hydrologist who worked with a committee of Floyd citizens on a local Source Water Protection Plan in 2010, was also in the film.
“One thing we can all agree on is that we all love this land,” said event emcee Jane Cunduff in her welcoming remarks. She commented on the great turnout, as volunteers brought in more chairs to accommodate the full house crowd.
The program opened with song. Some audience members sang along as songwriters Michael Kovick, Kari Kovick and Erika Joy performed “Save the Water” and added “pipeline out” to the chorus, referring to the controversial natural gas pipeline that has recently been proposed to come through Floyd.
Bernie Coveney, who provided the soundtrack for the film (which was produced before the pipeline was proposed), performed a song that he said was inspired by his son catching his first fish. “If we lose it, we’re in trouble. We might not get it back,” he said about the county’s water supply.
Through the words of the film’s participants and event speakers, audience members learned that because of Floyd’s geological landscape its water source is vulnerable to contamination and drought. With no underground aquifers of collected rainwater, Floyd’s water source comes from rain that has collected in fractured rock, providing only small reserves and a relatively short time for filtering. Floyd Press newspaper clippings about wells drying up during the drought of 1998 to 2002 were shown in the film.
A timed drip irrigation system for watering crops, malfunctioning sewage systems as a cause of contamination, mountain terrain run off, how many gallons of water a cow drinks a day and the age of spring water were some of the topics that were touched on.
Jennifer Greene spoke in the film about another kind of watershed in Floyd. “It’s a watershed from within the humanity,” said the Water Research Institute director who presented “Seeing Water with New Eyes” workshops in Floyd last year. John Gannon suggested having people in place to monitor water concerns, saying, “There’s no one going to be interested in Floyd water but the people who live here.” The sweet lingering of Coveney’s guitar highlighted the film participant’s smiling faces that were shown against the backdrop of Floyd creeks, wetlands, forests and farms at the film’s conclusion.
Following the film, Jane Cundiff talked about fracking, the hydraulic process of getting natural gas out of the ground. She stated that, although natural gas burns more cleanly than coal, the fracking process is not clean. “They take millions of gallons of fresh water and put a lot of nasty chemicals in it, acids that dissolve rock. Then they push it deep down into the earth and, under very high pressure, split open the rock underneath the earth to release the gas.”
Cundiff described the 300 mile, 42 inch pipeline that is proposed to come through Floyd from West Virginia, saying that it will be carrying high pressure hot methane gas and will need about a 100 foot wide clearance. She noted that people around the world are getting together against fracking (which is linked to increased earthquakes) and that it’s been reported that solar energy could be cheaper than natural gas in a span of about 10 years.
“About 95% of Floyd households are served by private water, wells and springs,” said Lydeana Martin in her address to the crowd. She noted that in the most recent Comprehensive Plan survey citizens responded that taking care of water, farms and forests was their biggest concern. She stated that there are currently no restrictions on what your neighbor can do on their property that might directly affect your water, other than setting up a landfill.
Mara Robbins, from Citizens for Preserving Floyd County (CPFC), a newly re-formed environmental advocacy group, gave an update on the proposed pipeline through Floyd. Commenting on how the arts in Floyd can be a forum for the expression of environmental protections, Robbins, a poet, shared a new poem, titled Deep River. “You’ve heard a lot from my head. This is what’s coming from my heart,” she said.
Robbins referred an audience member’s question about eminent domain to a CPFC October 14th educational outreach meeting at the high school (7:00 p.m). It will feature a lawyer who specializes in eminent domain law, she said.
After another audience member spoke about the pollution of holding ponds for fracking solution and the corruption by money in government, Robbins asked for a round of applause for local government, noting that Floyd’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution calling for the halt of pipeline surveying and a meeting with the companies involved. The resolution led to communication between the board and EQT, one of the companies proposing the pipeline. A public meeting in which two EQT managing partners will be in attendance has been proposed for October 28th.
Robbins said that citizens probably won’t get to speak at the meeting. “But we can show who we are and how we feel,” she said. She announced a sign making gathering at the Floyd Artisan Market on Fridays leading up to the meeting date.
Floyd’s mountain headwaters affect lots of people outside of Floyd, Jane Cundiff reminded the crowd, saying that Floyd water streams into the Little River, Dan River, Roanoke River and others. She suggested that people sign the “no pipeline” petitions that were located in the EcoVillage lobby and that they learn how to take care of the water on their own property. Applause broke out when she concluded, “We hope … no … we know, we can stop this pipeline.” – Colleen Redman
1. My recent experience in D.C. seeing the Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the National Gallery of Art was so visceral that I found myself holding my head back while looking at Wind from the Sea as if it was blowing on me.
2. I had been wanting to see a Wyeth exhibit for more than three decades and I cried when I finally did. “ I wanted to stretch out in the spot of sunlight and open the trunk in McVey’s Barn, take the apples from the porch in Frostbitten and put them on the empty plate in Groundhog Day, drape a favorite coat over the empty hanger on the porch in Looking Out Looking In. I wanted to press my nose up close to the window that looked onto another window looking onto a green field, or jump through Olsen’s Door and run in the wheat colored grass, trying not to trip on the bucket in Weatherside.” More HERE.
3. As a loud yawner waking up in a friend’s house in D.C., I wondered for a moment whether my loud yawns might be mistaken by others in the house as something orgasmic.
4. And I kept wondering if it was the ring of emails coming in or wind chimes in the breeze I was hearing.
5. Deal or ordeal?
6. Too much of a good thing: 3 Ss and 2 blanks in my last Scrabble game became a block to making an actual word.
7. I first fell in love with Wyeth’s work through the painting Groundhog Day that hung in my first mother-in-law’s home. I tried to buy the print (before the internet) and never found it, but I did find and purchase Wyeth’s Writing Chair (pictured on the right) instead. Just a week or so ago, my four year old grandson Liam looked at it hanging on the wall and said, “Why you got that chair?”
8. I loved Wyeth’s work right away but only now realize that it was because it reminded me of myself, my future self who would come to live in the rural landscapes of Virginia. I also share Wyeth’s appeal for windows and doors, light and shadow and am continually drawn to photograph them.
9. As someone who grew up in an amusement park town, my body was drawn to the D.C. mall merry-go-round like a moth to a flame.
10. After seeing a life-like shiny metal tree in an outside sculpture garden, I saw a crane and asked Joe, “Is that an art installation or a construction site?”
11. I’m reading a book called The Book of Tea and realizing that Teasim, a religion of ecstheticism (the adoration of the beautiful among everyday fact) is my kind of religion. I especially felt that was true when I read passages like: Let us have a cup of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.
12. Two of my favorite things, tea and baths, are useless if they’re not really hot.
13. “My best watercolors are when I break loose and there are scratches, spit and mud.” – Andrew Wyeth
I don’t know how art can unglue me so. There’s nothing else like it but lovemaking. In D.C. on Sunday I welled up with emotion at the National Gallery of Art’s Andrew Wyeth exhibit, an exhibit I had been waiting three decades to see. Finally standing in front of the vivid scenes of Wyeth’s world brought tears to my eyes. I wanted to stretch out in the spot of sunlight and open the trunk in McVey’s Barn, take the apples from the porch in Frostbitten and put them on the empty plate in Groundhog Day, drape a favorite coat over the empty hanger on the porch in Looking Out Looking In. I wanted to press my nose up close to the window that looked onto a another window looking onto a green field, or jump through Olsen’s Door and run in the field of wheat colored grass, trying not to trip on the bucket in Weatherside.
In my early 20’s I fell in love with the boy wearing a coonskin hat in Faraway. I realize now that it was because I recognized a part of myself in him, the Davy Crockett loving girl and the future me that would come to live in the rural mountains of Virginia. I was awakened by Wyeth’s lace curtained windows looking out onto hay fields, his barns and buckets and woodpiles. The yellow wallpaper and the warmth of sun on the place setting in Wyeth’s Groundhog Day had a strong effect on me. It once hung in my first mother-in-laws dining room. I loved her and have loved Wyeth ever since.
Corn silk crescent
Strand of night
Cocoon for the moon’s
________Imaginary Garden with Real Toads
“You’re buying a book tonight from an independent book store in a solid family business. I really appreciate that,” said author Neil Sagebiel at the noteBooks local book launch of his new book, Draw in the Dunes: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish that Shocked the World.
The book launch party spread out from the bookstore into the Red Rooster Coffee Roaster shop and The Black Water Loft, all part of the McCutchan family business, and was attended by Great Oaks Country Club golfers, booster club members, Sagebiel’s friends and family and a host of other lovers of good storytelling. I was told by a Booster Club board member that 10% of the evening’s book sales were slated to go to the FloydCountyHigh School golf team.
Draw in the Dunes is Sagebiel’s second golf history book. “I just kind of stumbled into this golf thing. I like golf. I played it, but what I really like is telling great stories,” said Sagebiel who is also a blogger. The new book is a recounting of the 1969 Ryder Cup golf tournament that came down to one match and ended in a tie when Jack Nicklaus conceded a last putt to Britian’s Tony Jacklin. (Nicklaus and Jacklin both wrote forwords to the book).
It was a gesture of sportsmanship that became “an iconic moment in golf and sports history,” Sagebiel told the crowd of book party attendees. But it was also not without controversy. “I didn’t think it was a big deal. I just did what I thought was the right thing to do,” Nicklaus later told Sagebiel in an interview. He thought a tie was okay. It was the first draw in Ryder Cup history and America kept The Cup, Sagebiel explained.
I could tell from Sagebiel’s reading that he knows how to build the drama of a story and put the reader in the middle of it. In the few paragraphs he shared, caddies threatened to boycott the games, country flags were raised, emotions and nerves ran high and players recounted their memories of the day.
I was particularly interested in the cultural history aspect of the story and could vaguely remember the uproar because Nicklaus was the Tiger Woods of his day, and it was all over the news. Vietnam was referenced early in the story. A moon landing, Tiny Tim and popular music were all part of the book’s setting. Sagebiel apologetically addressed the women in the crowd. “There aren’t a lot of women in the story,” he admitted. “There are a few and they’re wearing mini skirts.”
Right off the top, Sagebiel told us that the most important two words come at the start of the book, “For Sally.” He thanked his wife, Sally, and their two daughters, saying, “They put up with me and know way too much about golf.” He recalled when he was setting up the book signing date with noteBooks owner Avis McCutchan and she pointed out that 9/18 a good date for a golf book. You know, 9 holes, 18 holes. Not only that, the 1969 Ryder Cup started on 9/18, Sagebeil told us.
Colorful cupcakes arranged like a golf course added a celebratory touch and the food and prizes made for an all around fun event. “This isn’t my last book. I just don’t know what I’m going to do next,” Sagebiel said at the end of his reading. “I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s something I didn’t really see myself doing but it’s been a privilege to do.” – Colleen Redman
__________Our World Tuesday
Close the Door on Your Way Out
______Sunday Shadow Shot
1. Between the bee and the thistle, I felt the above picture should be named “Don’t Stand too Close.”
2. I was juggling taking notes, video clips and pictures at a recent event that I was covering for the paper when my high school motto for getting good grades came back to me: Just Pay Attention in Class.
3. Joe and I recently picked enough apples to overfill a milk crate to overflow, which made me think about a bushel and a peck … and then … a hug around the neck, a song my dad taught me.
4. We got a new carpet installed in our bedroom this week, and so slept in my son’s old room, which is when I noticed that the tapestry hanging on the wall (still there from when it was his bedroom) had an obscure pattern of a man smoking a hookah on it. The worst part is that I think I bought it and was clueless when I did.
5. THIS is more fun than a yard flamingo.
6. Read about the time Joe and I drove to town blaring the poetry of the beats with the holy holy howl of Allen Ginsberg and his sunflower sutra and Jack Kerouac’s stoned-out Shakespearean jazz reading of the Three Stooges and Neal Cassady on the tape player HERE.
7. Is it MC or emcee?
8. Summer is like a rainbow bubble that pops too soon.
9. It’s hard to believe that parts of the country are already experiencing severe snowstorms, weather events some are calling “Snowtember.” The pictures are pretty chilling. See HERE.
10. I was going to post THIS link about new names for Climate Change, but it seemed kind of crass, even though it appeared in The New Yorker. Then I came across THIS website that had the even better idea of naming extreme storms after climate change deniers.
11. Joe was reading a book called “Lick the Sugar Habit,” which seemed like an oxymoron to me. I was thinking that licking sugar wasn’t going to be a very helpful way to break a habit until the next day when I realized that “lick” was being used like the word “beat.”
12. Last night I dreamt that I was driving somewhere and was lost. I tried to ask Siri for directions but my phone would only show me cartoons.
The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on September 11, 2014.
They must be doing something right at Floyd’s Spikenard Farm & Honeybee Sanctuary. “We had zero percent losses last winter,” said the sanctuary’s director and beekeeper, Gunther Hauk. “Everybody’s losing 40 – 60 – 80% around here. One beekeeper near Blacksburg emailed me that he had 52 hives and has only 3 or 4 left after the winter.”
Hauk, an internationally renowned teacher, speaker and author of Toward Saving the Honey Bee, explained that the disappearance of honeybees, referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder, is a serious global problem because pollination is the foundation of our food supply and honeybees pollinate about 40 – 70% of the food we eat. The honeybees have become an indicator species of what is happening to our environment and the losses show the scope of the ecological crisis, a Spikenard brochure reads.
The massive loss of bees in recent decades is believed to be caused by a combination of factors, including the use of poisonous pesticides and herbicides in agriculture and lawn care, Hauk said. The loss of food diversity through monoculture has resulted in the loss of native bees, aHawhile the industrialization of beekeeping contributes to the decline of European bee colonies by leaving them stressed and vulnerable to disease.
“It involves artificial queen breeding, sugar feeding and trucking bees around 100s and thousands of miles a year to pollinate crops. It’s a big business,” Hauk said about the industry.
Hauk, who heads up Spikenard with his wife Vivian, is not a commercial beekeeper and the production of honey is not the Spikenard mission. Although they do sell some honey in the sanctuary’s yurt shop, they leave much of it for the bees to feed on over winter. Forage seed packets, organic cotton Spikenard t-shirts and cards featuring the flower and bee photography of Vivian are also stocked in the shop.
Spikenard is a non-profit that is supported by private foundations, individual donations and the proceeds of Hauk’s workshops and lectures. There are 35 hives on the 25 acre farm sanctuary and they don’t plan to increase the hive count, wanting to be assured that they can feed the bees they already have, Hauk said. With a sanctuary staff that includes a caretaker and two interns, the goal is to save the honeybee as an integral part of a complex living eco-system, rather than to only benefit from its labor.
Creating a healthy habitat for the bees through small scale sustainable beekeeping and gardening is part of the Spikenard mission, and the sanctuary land has blossomed and thrived in the 4 ½ years that Spikenard has been there. Against a backdrop of
mountain views, the property is landscaped with a stunning variety of perennial and annual flowers, along with wild plants and herbs that Hauk refers to as “medicine to boost the bee’s immune system.” He shares the names of plants and happily points out saddle bags of pollen on the legs of bees busy feeding. “They feed on different plants at different times of the day,” he said.
Education is a primary component of the work at Spikenard, and it has taken Hauk all over the world. Most recently, he and Vivian taught part of a two year, four session Sustainable Biodynamic Beekeeping Training at the sanctuary. About 24 beekeepers from all over the country attended the certification class and received hands-on
experience and immersion into biodynamic beekeeping, a holistic approach that was first put forth in the early 1920s by anthroposophist Rudolph Steiner. Along with practical information on non-invasive mite reduction and natural methods for recovering the health of bees, class attendees also participated in activities designed to deepen their sense perceptions, said Vivian Hauk, adding that the class is “like a retreat” and a form of community building.
A Spikenard class intensive on Biodynamic Agriculture is scheduled at the sanctuary the weekend of September 19 – 21. It will give “a solid basis for understanding the major ideas and principles of Biodynamic Agriculture,” including biodynamic pest
management, composting from start to finish, practical applications for the rhythms of life and making natural preparations for enlivening and invigorating soil, plants, animals and humans. With the completion of the Spikenard bath house, attendees can now camponsite.
School tours are part of Spikenard’s educational outreach, and they give Hauk an
opportunity to spread his infectious passion for bees and the natural world to the next generation. He suggested turning fear of bees into love for what they do, and he
demonstrated one of his favorite teaching techniques. Placing a honeybee into the
hands of a sanctuary visitor, he promised that it would not sting. As the visitor’s fear subsided, he explained that honeybee drones can’t sting. It was a lesson that brought shared laughter and a new perspective on bees. - Colleen Redman
Photo Note: Bonnie Young took the above photo of me and Gunther. She (pictured two photos above) said she has been following Hauk’s work for about six years. She was one of about 24 beekeepers attending the biodynamic beekeeping class and will be among the third graduating class of the course. She is originally from Virginia and now lives in Georgia. Young says she’ll be back for the Biodynamic Agriculture weekend class, titled Comprehensive Introduction to Biodynamic Principles and Practice (which is taking place this weekend).
Note: Check the Spikenard website (spikenardfarm.org) for upcoming fall workshops, including one a beeswax candle making (via dipping) and visit them on Facebook.
_____Our World Tuesday