Friday, April 12, 2024

Diurnal Inspiration.

As the days start to grow longer and the diurnal shifts more drastic, we are reminded of what lies beneath this subtle white blanket of yet another rather mild winter. Seasonal changes that we have been observing over the last few years seem to be the new normal. Hard frosts are flipped with rainy warmth, even during what should be the coldest parts of the year. Finding mud season creeping into the February side of the calendar and recalling more worries about making sure homestead drainage is up to snuff and less worries about keeping snow paths cleared to access compost piles and tool sheds leave me wondering what winters will look like for the generations to come. I'm sure the deer herd that beds down in our humble hemlock heavy forest have similar thoughts as they struggle through the mud and deal with the challenges of these lengthy labored winters flush with diurnal disparity.

With the temperature swings in full effect it was time for tree tapping and Hazel was eager to lead the charge, as I quizzed her on the order of the tasks at hand. We loaded up the necessary materials and headed out to begin maple season 2024! 

As the afternoon warmth embraced the forest, birds began chirping, puddles began to form and of course the sap started its run.  Hazel made sure to sample the sweet sap drippings from our first tap!

As the week warmed up, 30 gallons of sap was collected and we started our first boil as the weekend arrived. Along with the usual boiling we decided it was a good chance to thin out some lower branches that were shading some of our perennial growing space

Seemed fitting to split a bit of the maple logs from last year to get the pans steaming as wafts of maple sweetened sap smoke filled the air.

Well into the evening we stoked the fire and eventually reduced the 30 gallons and strained the remaining 2 gallons of sweet nectar into a stock pot to bring into the house to do a quick strain through wool, followed by a simple cold crash in the fridge overnight. In the morning we brought the remaining sap to a strong boil and used a hydrometer to measure the sugar content until it hits that sweet spot where it is ready to bottle!

All bottled up and corked for the cellar!

Localrootz Maple Syrup - Batch One/ 2024

Speaking of Maple, here is our sweet feline taking a big stretch now that her favorite season is here!

As the days of snow ebbed into more wind and rain, we assessed our seed stocks and gave our houseplants a pre-spring equinox bath and pruned some dead leaves. Still plenty of last years garlic, gonna have to preserve it as it to knows spring is whispering in our ear and will begin showing signs of sprouting soon I presume.

This winter has been productive in the studio as a few larger paintings that have been in the studio for sometime have slowly come to completion. Its funny where you can find inspiration... above you can see a snowman painting Hazel did with her class that I was observing while wandering her schools hallways waiting for her violin lesson to finish up. I noticed something stood out in her piece and after a minute or two I realized the addition of falling snow was what was drawing my attention and it inspired me to add this element into the piece that I had been working on. 

The inspiration for snow led my creative thought process into how I wanted to translate snow into my painting... I started to conceptualize how I wanted the snow to translate in my work and what the meaning of this winter woodland painting was. My original inspiration came from that sense of peace and tranquility I find when I walk through a winter forest. Especially when its experience is heightened by fresh fallen snow. There is something about a winter walk through the woods that amplifies natures ability to calm the mind. It's like the forest is sleeping and the falling snow is tucking everything under natures nurturing blanket. However as I get older and wiser and maybe less idealistic... there is also an underlying sadness and overwhelming sense that we are just a piece of this puzzle.  That alone doesn't seem very sad but unfortunately it seems our piece of this puzzle has been carved and extorted into a shape that no longer fits into natures. Human kind no longer feels a part of nature, but more just a slow evolution against nature, that is driven by commodity and consumerism. Everyday I slip into the news feeds and viral social content that seems to be laying the map for the human race. I am overwhelmed by its lack of  empathy and hunger for power and greed and likes. War is on the headlines and quickly followed up by hollywood scandals, quick fix pharmaceuticals and economical outlooks that persistently highlight the dichotomy between the haves and have nots. It falls on our minds like gentle flakes as we brush off our distaste and tweet about its serene beauty only to wake up feeling like we are shoveling a mountain with a teaspoon.  The idea of using the news to highlight this eerie feeling made me harken back to my juvenile days of being a paperboy delivering the Lowell Sun. It was those formative years of waking up early and being ready for whatever weather was in store for the day and noticing the seasonal changes, the different insects that I would see or sometimes get attacked by. The mockingbird that would dive bomb me every spring when I snuck around to leave a paper on the elderly womans screen porch or the morning the tent caterpillars spread their webs over the entire neighborhood and my head was spinning with horrors of the recent movie release called Arachnophobia and how quickly I finished my route that day and how every mailbox I had to open was like pulling a wire on a ticking bomb... memories of finishing my route and wandering along the Merrimac River, thinking about the people that inhabited this land long before video game systems and high end basketball sneakers. Listening to my walkman and absorbing who I was and why was I here on this planet. 
Fast forward to present the snow falls outside my studio window I cut circle after circle from the war drenched headlines. Diving deeper into the Economy section as markets rising and falling, the warmongering lobbyist herd the elected cattle into their places to feed on their greed, all the while knowing a seat on the corporate board they appease the most will be waiting for them in their golden years, securing a place for their future generations at the top of the wealth ladder. Forgive me as I ramble and digest. The current state of the union seems to be igniting something in my consciousness that is asking me to do more, say more and act more. 

Each flake of snow falls with snippets of this orchestrated chaos tediously cut and pasted from the current headlines. 

I've hung this piece in our living room to sit "untitled" as I absorb it and contemplate its completion.
It may be done but until it has a final protective coating and remains unnamed I will still say its a 
"work in progress".

Accompanying this piece is another new self reflective work that is evolving with my use of collage. I have used collage in the past but until recently it had fallen out of my methodology. I found it sparked a creative avenue that needed to be revisited and am excited about the dialogue it has created in this current allegorical self portrait that is slowly evolving... 

The barrage of inspiration that has been flowing is exciting, though as a full time worker, husband and father with a smorgasbord of interests... the work is coming in fits and spurts. 

Stay tuned as the ground begins to break for another year of growth, blossoming and learning.

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Hibernal Solstice.

An idyllic wet snow blanketed our homestead by mid December, though as recent winters have shown, the roller coaster weather rolled back with a nasty wallop of rain and wind that knocked power out for many around the state and caused a lot of havoc with flooding and property damage.

After cleaning up from the storm it was time to gussy up the home with some seasonal cheer as the solstice quickly approached. I was able to score a good clutch of winterberry that I foraged along a ATV trail nearby and gathered other offerings from our land to set the mood. Pinecones are super abundant this year and the storm brought that realization to the forefront.

Setting the mood with some old timey Christmas music pumping on the bluetooth speaker as I unfurled the strands of lights and got to work just in time for the sun to set and the lights to glow with hope and warmth as winters darkness embraces the calendar.

As the solstice came we celebrated with our annual family trip up to the "Gardens Aglow" at the Coastal Maine's Botanical Gardens

A brisk stroll through the magical lights always warms the soul and sets the mood for the fast approaching holiday season.

Even the trolls turned up for the celebration!

Hazel has been leaning on the more adventurous side in her activities and occasionally at the dinner table too! Oysters have become a more common snack since introducing her to the briny delights this past summer.

Speaking of dinner... the Christmas Eve feast had to make an appearance as we are still working our way through the leftovers and nobody seems to be complaining!

The magic of Christmas is alive and well at the LocalRootz Homestead! It is so fun seeing the excitement in your child's eyes as they get spoiled with thoughtful gifts from every corner of the family tree. Lots of activities and crafts for the winter stretch along with some guilty pleasures that are just perfect for those cold snowy mornings. 

The glow of the tree brings joy to us all including our beloved Maple!

Cheers to 2024... I have my resolutions that I will focus on and hold myself accountable for, but in general I hope for a year of being inspired, being productive and being the best husband and father I can be to my lovely wife Cassi and daughter Hazel. 

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