The Texture of a Day


 journal page – 8/7/07

Each day has its own texture, and I wear it like a cloak around my shoulders. Sometimes the fabric is woven from the remnants of the day before, but more often than not, I have managed in my sleep to unravel yesterday’s garment, and I start weaving again as I rise…

Today I found myself in front of William Holman Hunt’s painting, The Lady of Shalott, which is based on the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The poem tells the story of a woman who lives in a tower on the island of Shalott, on a river that leads to Camelot. She spends her days weaving a tapestry of the world outside her window, under a curse to view the landscape only by reflection through a mirror. Although she is happy to weave, she has come to realize that the outside world is full of love and beauty that she can never experience sequestered in her tower.


The Lady of Shalott
– William Holman Hunt (1827-1910)

One day as she is working at her loom, she hears the singing voice of gallant Sir Lancelot as he rides along the shore of the river and on impulse, turns to look directly through her window at him. At that moment, her tapestry begins to unravel and her mirror cracks. Fleeing her tower, she finds a boat in the river which she loosens from its moorings in order to float to Camelot where she can find life and love. She dies before she reaches her goal.


The Lady of Shalott
– John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

There are numerous and diverse scholarly interpretations of Tennyson’s poem, ranging from reading it as a metaphor for the isolated artistic life to a statement on the role of women in Victorian society. The Pre-Raphaelite painters were attracted to the story for its Arthurian themes and depiction of tragic love. But today, Hunt’s painting of The Lady of Shalott reminded me of the importance of experiencing the fullness of the world and my life as I weave my own tapestry. Too often, I find myself adding or subtracting elements based on what I see in the mirrors others put in front of me. Sometimes those mirrors appear from the caverns of my distant past, and sometimes they’re bright, shiny new mirrors. Either way… the reflection is never as clear as the real thing.

Illustration Friday ~ Missing


Fill the Spaces ~
10″ x 10″ x 1″ ~ mixed media on wood
Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Mark Strand (1934 – )

Dear Diary


journal page -8/3/07
August has always marked a shift in my sensibilities. I feel wistful; I know summer is winding down, even in all its ripe glory. June and July are full of promise, extending towards an invisible horizon like some long highway across the plains. The road seems endless, I’m free to drive fast or slow, and the destination isn’t important. And then suddenly I arrive, covered in road dust with my hair in snarls, at August.

Once upon a time, when I and my siblings were little, our family would spend each July in Montauk in a little yellow cottage on the Block Island Sound. Our days revolved around sand, sun and sea, and our lullaby at night was the lapping or crashing of waves on the shore. It truly was blissful… and the memories of those summers are among those I revisit when I need to go to a “happy place.”

I also remember so vividly the sensation of returning from a month at the seashore and experiencing the August closeness of our backyard. After the free expanse of beaches and dunes and seagrass, everything seemed overgrown and overripe. The air was scented with rotting apples that lay beneath their tree, and inevitably I would step on one and feel it squish between the toes of my bare feet. And the noise! Crickets, cicadas, all manner of wing-strummers filled the space with a din that rose in crescendos over and over, the ocean waves replaced by waves of insect sounds.

This year, instead of allowing that melancholy of ending summer to taint my days, I am appreciating some of the wonders of August – the hundreds of birds flying though the forest, taking care of their families… the huge crows that land in my driveway and walk around in pairs like old folks on a boardwalk… the doe and her her two fawns who allowed us to pull up beside them at the side of the road and look at them for quite a long time before darting back into the woods… the delicious fresh fruit and vegetables that fill the farmers’ markets… the early morning walks with my dog watching the sun come up and filter through the trees… noticing the colors and the lights and the darks of the world around me…

Each day is a gift. Even in August.

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