Yesterday, Steve and I sat down with our newly washed collection of dish towels, deciding it was time to cull those that are too thin to be effective after decades of use. We don’t use a dishwasher, so our dish towels are crucial kitchen equipment, as they were for generations before us. The aspect for which I’m grateful is that so many women chose to display their embroidery talents by telling stories with these towels, thereby turning them into art. We have towels stitched by my mother, my grandmother, and two aunts. Each time we use them, we feel that connection. Quite often, the stories they tell are funny: vegetable musicians, naughty kittens, and Mother Goose, as well as a set that depicts dishes in the colors of the pottery Steve and I collected when we were first married. Those that we set aside because they no longer have a practical use will become part of a fabric art project I have in mind … their stories will stay with us.
I am grateful for the people who inspire me, many of whom I have never met, but they have given great gifts of art, music, exploration, and innovation to the world—and I’m grateful to the people who write about them. When I read The Secret Kingdom by Barb Rosenstock and Claire A. Nivola, my world and my heart opened to encompass Nek Chand, a man who was homesick after an enforced move (the Partition of India). In the woods near his home, he hid the statues of people and animals he made out of reclaimed objects and stones. Eventually, people discovered his artwork. The government tried to shut him down. His neighbors protested, for they had come to love his art. Today, the 25-acre Rock Garden in Chandigarh, India, holds more than 2,000 statues, waterfalls, amphitheaters, and works of art. People visit from all over the world. Sadly, Nek Chand died in 2015 and now the Rock Garden is struggling to stay open.
If you need a rest from the day’s challenges, enjoy the creativity of Charley Harper (1922-2007), an artist who celebrated nature with his “minimal realism.” For me, his compositions are joyful and reverent. Here’s a video about his work and here are illustrations from The Giant Golden Book of Biology. I am grateful for Charley Harper’s commitment to expressing his connections with nature so we can enjoy them forever. [below, “Red and Fed,” by Charley Harper]
My favorite time of day, the ephemeral minutes after sunset and before the night turns dark, when the light is sometimes misty, sometimes glowing, but always causes wonder. We do our best to take note, looking up from what we’re doing to savor the changing gift each day’s gloaming brings.