There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Monday, September 28, 2009

glass houses, stone calendar

T H E   I D I O M  "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" is a well-worn one (idiom, not stone). Of course, it means that anyone criticizing anyone else should have their own house in order before they throw stones (criticism) themselves. It's a hard thing to do for most people, including me—especially the 'house-in-order' stuff.

T R A N S P A R E N C Y  seems to be the catch-word of the day. It seems we live in times where privacy is non-existent. Could this be part of the paradigm shift in consciousness talk about coinciding with the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21st, 2012? Is it the apocalypse? Or just another day of slow, tedious destruction of our life-giving natural environment? Maybe it's just good fodder for another cataclysmic Hollywood movie.

H O M E   S E E M S  to be  the only safe space left—in order or not. And it's always where my cats are (hence the name of my freelance business—Man and Cat Omnidesign). My calico named Luci and my Bengal named Abella seem to have it all figured out. They spend their days relaxing, sleeping and eating; while the rest of us get all geeked out on doomsday stories or the more pressing stuff that fills our days to exhaustion. Maybe cats have already shifted their consciousness and we should take a cue from them to just relax. Why else would the Egyptians have thought them to be gods? Ancient civilizations (like the Mayans and Egyptians) seemed to be onto something cataclysmal, but life-affirming. 

GLASS HOUSES | These mercury glass house ornaments were collected from (top, right) Cost Plus World Market (with snow), Star Provisions, Ebay (antique gold with trees), and a Christmas shop at Biltmore Estates (gingerbread house ornament mouth-blown and hand painted in the Czech Republic by Holiday Lane). The stones are from the creek bed that was the neighborhood swimming hole when I was a boy—well, worn and ready for throwing. 

WARM AND FUZZY | The Man and Cat Omnidesign mascots, Luci and Abella (above, left). Luci, the Calico is the most incredible, magical cat I've ever had. She likes her yogurt in the mornings and has been with me for 16 years now. Much younger than Luci, Abella, the Bengal is loud and rambunctious. She always wants to drink from the tub or sink faucets. They are my constant companions and I adore them.

CALENDAR MYSTERY | The mysterious Mayan calendar (right) ends (or transforms consciousness somehow) on December 21, 2001 (Winter Solstice). The Maya had precise knowledge of our solar system's cycles, which they thought coincide with our spiritual and collective consciousness. No one really knows a lot about how or when the Maya culture began, but they have an enduring prophesy. The archeological evidence of them is shrouded in mystery. We'll have to wait and see what mystery will be unveiled during the holidays of 2012.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

Monday, September 21, 2009

flowers for my mother

THE PINK ROSE has become a supernatural symbol of my mother since her death. I dug up my mother's favorite pale pink rosebush from my childhood yard before my siblings and I sold their house a few years ago. Planted in a large container now, it has bloomed only on mother's day and my birthday—literally, the first blossoms opened on those particular days in the last couple of years. Whatever blooms were set in bud those days were the only ones of the season. In another unexpected instance, eight unusual pink paper roses arrived unexplained in a small box within a larger box of other items I had mail-ordered. I distributed those eight paper roses between my siblings as a posthumous gift from my mother. I didn't dare inquire why, but I had a sense that my mother has something to do with those roses being packed in the box.

I TOOK a colorful vase of homegrown roses from my mother's hospital room that my parent's neighbor, Jo Aultman, had brought to her during her last days. I left the hospital after mother died and drove the short trip home—the place where I had grown up. I looked at the roses and the air became electric. It felt as though I was seeing the life energy of those roses vibrate in front of me. I felt this incredible energy enter through the top of my head and travel throughout my body, all the way to my toes. If this is what Nirvana feels like, I felt it. I had an incredible sense of giddy happiness and a sudden inexplicable peace wash over me. It was as if, once she had realized she had passed on, she wanted to touch me one last time—even though I was holding her hand at her bedside when she died.

I KNEW it was my mother's spirit. Nobody can tell me any differently. In talking to my brother Mal later, he had a similar experience. That confirmed it. I wasn't loosing my mind in grief. I knew my mother was free of her failed earthly body and in a happier, more peaceful place. I knew that everything would be alright. Beyond that, this experience was a coded knowledge—something was there that I still can't explain. I've held that feeling with me in low times. It must have been a taste of the freedom one's soul feels after death—a confirmation that our souls have a life beyond our physical selves. What a gift! 

I BROUGHT mother roses from that bush innumerable times when I was a child. She brings roses to me now as an adult. That pale pink rose is a symbol that she is gone, but has become more than that. An excerpt from "Calling All Angels," a song played at mother's funeral in July 2005 (that I had played for her after my father died) says it as only poetry can:  

. . . and every day you gaze upon the sunset
with such love and intensity why it’’s almost as if
if you could only crack the code
then you’d finally understand what this all means 

but if you you think you would
trade it in all the pain and suffering?
ah, but then you’d miss
the beauty of the light upon this earth
and the sweetness of the leaving . . .
                                                        —Jane Siberry

THIS LAST DAY of summer, I give my mother flowers once again, this time for all to see. This is a medium of light and energy, after all. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. She and my father gave me a life that continues to blossom. They are the bedrock my roots hold onto and draw nourishment from. As hard as it is sometimes to keep my head up, all I have to do is remember them and I bloom with the palest, most pure intent. They are still shining beacons of hope to me. And hope does die last.

SUMMER'S END | This collecton of mercury glass flower ornaments (above, top) spill from a pink container next to a preserved rose wreath I gave my mother for mother's day a couple of years before she died. The pink roses are German-made ornaments, the orchids and pansy ornaments are made Poland—all of which are from Martha Stewart's now defunct Martha by Mail catalog. The three amaryllis blossoms were bought at Kmart a few years back and were purchased from the Martha Stewart Everyday Christmas Luster collection. The yellow trumpet flower clip ornaments are painted glass made in Poland and were found at Saks Fifth Avenue in Phipps Plaza, Atlanta. 

FLYING HOME | The aforementioned paper roses (above, left) that arrived inexplicably in the mail after my mother's death. Two birdhouses are tiny ornamental representations of the homes of free spirits. Birds, of course, can build their own homes, but are practical enough to feather their nests in whatever shelter they find.

LOVEBIRDS | My parents, Hubert and Virginia Moland (right), in a giddy moment early in their long life together. Photographer unknown.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

Friday, September 18, 2009

summer immortal

These are the days when birds come back, 
A very few, a bird or two,
To take a backward look.

These are the days when skies put on
The old, old sophistries of June,
A blue and gold mistake.

Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee,
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief,

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear,
And softly through the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf!

Oh, sacrament of summer days,
Oh, last communion in the haze,
Permit a child to join,

Thy sacred emblems to partake,
Thy consecrated bread to break,
Taste thine immortal wine!

        —Indian Summer by Emily Dickinson

AS  SUMMER days come to an end this year, I remember my father. Born September 18, 1922, today would have been his 87th birthday. This day seems more significant to me now than the day he died—a day that is strangely all-too-easy to remember. He won't be here for the day I die, but there's always the feeling he's somewhere nearby. I have living memories in my head. The immortal wine has been tasted. 

GROWING  UP, it was a rare occasion to have wine in our house, except for the time around Christmas. My mother was old-fashioned in her beliefs and frowned upon "the drink." Grape juice was passed around with the communion crackers at the local Baptist church we attended religiously. Mother would relent and my father would ritually buy a bottle of Mogen David Concord Grape once a year which would be used to soak the fruitcake she made. As a small act of defiance, daddy and I would sneak a sip or two when he thought I was old enough. It was my first lesson about the hypocrisy of the church—no matter if Jesus' turning water into wine was only symbolic. We would be washed clean by our actions, not by our thoughts. We were all taught to do what's right, whether we thought about it or not. Mother and daddy grew up during the depression and knew that when times got tough, everyone should pitch in and help those in need, not hold tight to what was "theirs." They worked hard and were the give-you-their-shirt-off-their-back kind of people. And I loved them for it.

A  ROAD  TRIP to the beach was almost always our summer vacation. The drive to Florida would begin before the crack of dawn so we could find a place to stay before nightfall on our travel down the Atlantic coast. Our destination was usually Daytona Beach, but one time I remember we rode almost to Miami. Since I was the youngest of four siblings (by a gap of ten years), it was always a middle-of-the-backseat trip. I would lean up on the seat between my parents in my father's Lincoln Continental, which was like a smoothly-cruising a land yacht floating down to paradise. I think my father favored the beach at Daytona because it was so wide you could actually drive your car on it. It was hard to get him to stop until we reached our destination, when we would head down the beach in the car to check out the scene before we found a hotel vacancy. It was always exciting to me. From the quarter-fed Magic Fingers vibrating beds to the sand dollars and starfish I would find, I loved the beach and everything that came with it.

BEFORE  my parents even met, my father was an Army paratrooper in WWII, distinguished by being a Sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division. It was late summer and autumn of 1944 before Adolf Hitler made a last effort to hold his terrible German reign, and on Dec. 16, 1944, German troops surprised and overwhelmed American forces in the Ardennes Forest in the crucial Battle of the Bulge. It was a pivotal moment that ended the tyranny of Nazi rule. The Germans lacked the troops to maintain their success and within two weeks, my father (and the other American soldiers), commanded by General George S. Patton, stopped the German advance into Belgium.

DEFENDING the world’s freedom in the good fight of World War II, as part of America’s Greatest Generation, my father felt this was his utmost accomplishment. He owned a part of  history. He learned to conquer fear. He was a hero to all of us. We became a family of teachers of one sort of another. My sister Donna taught American History. My brother Ronald coached tennis, taught math and eventually became a high school principle. My brother Mal continues to teach unselfishness, kindness and love (like my parents did). And I like to think I'm good at teaching others about art, design and beauty.

THEY WERE MARRIED soon after daddy's arrival back home after the war. They went unceremoniously to the courthouse in Decatur, Alabama on December 23, 1945, so the holidays were always wrapped up in an anniversary. My parents had 59 years of wine-soaked fruitcakes before they both died in 2005. My father led the way, as always, in February of that year, and my mother died soon after that in July. Our family was witness to a boundless love that connected two people at a level that transcends separation. 

MOTHER AND DADDY always gave me a Whitman's Sampler on Christmas Eve every year after I figured out who the real Santa Claus was. It nearly always was placed on the sofa across from the tree in front of the living room picture window—the sofa where I always sat and stared and dreamed, until my eyes blurred with the sparkle of  lights, ornaments and tree melding together. I was hooked.

I RECEIVED another Whitman's Sampler this past Christmas Eve from my friend Jon. Ironically, it was the first year since my parents death that I had completely forgotten to buy a box for myself. And it reminds me every year that life is [truly] like a box of chocolates—and Santa does exist—if you believe in the magic of Christmas as I was taught to do.

ONE OF MY very first memories is pointing out at the ocean. My parents always told me I used  the word "see" when I pointed to the sea. The limitless horizon and the rhythm of the waves never cease to lull me back to that place where the breezes cool, even as the sun warms my face. And, I can ponder the limitless possibilities of life and death, recalling and projecting in my mind's eye, like the flickering Super 8 movies daddy made of our vacations. Summer never really ends.

SEASHELLS AND STARFISH | (Top) Collecting sparkle from the sea, these ornaments (above) evoke a trip to the beach. Like a ship's figurehead, a carved wooden mermaid with wings takes a flight of fancy all-her-own, and a blown mercury glass seashell from Homegoods sparkles like the water. Two glittered starfish from Martha Stewart Everyday Sunshine Celebration line from Kmart and five conical seashells are cast to form a single golden star from Margaret Furlong designs. An antique stretch glass plate serves as the blue of the ocean.

PRIDE AND PALMS | (Second from top) A photo of Hubert L. Moland, my father (above, right), taken before redeployment in 1942 after ending a tour in Africa before advancing to Germany. The flag is one that flew on his grave for a short while. The Sears Craftsman pocket screwdriver was carried on his key chain for years—always at-the-ready to fix something.The coins are ones he collected and represent different eras of American history—from a 1921 Buffalo nickel, a 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar, a 1976 Bicentennial Eisenhower dollar with the Liberty Bell in front of the moon, to a 1971 Kennedy half dollar. The seashell was one that daddy kept in his medicine cabinet for years, "probably only because it had a hole in it" my brother Mal told me. And the ring to the left of the seashell was the second wedding ring my father bought my mother because her first wore through after years on her hardworking hands. It's the one I always remember her wearing since I came along so late in their lives. 

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

Friday, September 11, 2009

tree of light

IMAGINING the first holiday tree, it must have been the lighted ones that really touched the primal spirit of our collective psyche. Like the first magical fire that danced in front of man's eyes, the addition of light brought the sparkle and wonder alive. There is no doubt that the decorated tree has become one of the most beloved and well-known symbols of life during the holidays.

AN ANCIENT custom, the decorated tree has played an important part of winter celebrations for centuries. Whether it was the Pagans honoring the spirit of nature with festivals incorporating decorated trees; the Vikings believing that the cold darkness of winter would end with the light of spring returning, as long as there was an evergreen around; the Druids of ancient England and France using fruit and candles to decorate oak trees—honoring the gods of harvest; or the Romans celebrating Saturnalia by arranging trinkets and candles on trees—the ritual of decorating a tree is stored deeply into the collective consciousness of our holiday celebrations.

IF  IT WAS the patron Saint of Germany, Saint Boniface chopping down the Oak of Thor in a stage-managed confrontation with the old gods and "heathen" tribes—and claiming the small fir tree growing up in the roots of this oak as a new symbol of Christianity; the initiator of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther being inspired to light an evergreen with candles to illustrate to his family, the twinkling of stars through the fir trees at night; or the German Christians adopting the evergreen indoors during the new Christian holiday, the decorated tree is a ritual that represents an inspired collective of ideas and beliefs.

THE TRADITION spread throughout Europe, culminating in the first real media attention for the custom when engravings of Prince Albert, who was German, along with his wife Queen Victoria decorated the first Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1841 and it was written up in the London Times replete with an engraving (see below for a later illustration in color). They decorated their famous tree with candies, gingerbread, fruits, nuts and candles to their children's delight.

GERMAN IMMIGRANTS came to America in the 1830's, bringing Christmas ornaments with them. Most Americans still considered the Christmas tree a heretical symbol of Paganism. One of the first public displays of a Christmas tree was set up by German settlers in Pennsylvania. But it wasn't until the late 1800's that Americans began adopting the irresistible custom of the Christmas tree.

EVEN  IF none of these legends are entirely true, the origin of the decorated tree in modern times has many connections to Germany where the first glass ornaments—humble representations of evergreen pine cones were made. Even in parts of Germany where evergreen trees were scarce, families would build a Christmas pyramid—a simple tiered structure decorated with branches and candles. Pagan or Christian, the act of decorating a tree, for whatever reason, resonates with most of the world's population. 

CHRISTMAS  TREES were then decorated with nuts, apples, cookies, strung and colored popcorn, and candles while European ornament collections were begun. Electricity brought strung-together lights in the early 20th century. The idea of  the lighted tree spread as quickly as electricity and Christmas trees became a household fixture during the holidays. And in communities across the globe large outdoor displays of holiday trees and lights have been adopted over the years—the world lighting up with the magic of the winter season.

ON  THIS  ELEVENTH day of September, we in America still have a lot of candles to light and a lot of thoughts and prayers to be answered, either by God or by our own actions. And it's not lost on me, but my eleventh blog follower, after resistance to the chaos he finds in my life, has finally realized that this blog is my way of digging through  the rubble of a passion to collect and making something of it. Thank you Mr. Jon Chavez for being patient with me and being the brightest light in my life. The number eleven has truly become significant for me (a time prompt from spirit guardians or not). I'm making a wish before I extinguish any flames. 

SPARKLE AND LIGHT | Pine cones—long symbols of fertility and even eternal life—were some of the first German glass ornaments made for use on the holiday tree. I gathered my collection to decorate the most perfectly-shaped fir tree I could find (photos above). Simply adorned with a widely-varied, but singular collection of old and new pine cone decorations, this tree evokes a timeless historical elegance. It is draped with an antiqued tinsel garland from Bethany Lowe Designs (above, right). The candles held atop the trees branches in metal pine cone-shaped clips from Germany create a beautiful flickering warm light unparalleled by modern electric lights. The lighting of the tree became an occasion that year (2007) and was a pure celebration of the origin(s) of the decorated tree. The finial glass tree topper was made for the brilliant Thomas O'Brien retromodern ornament collection for Target several years ago.
collecting and styling by Darryl Moland, photography by Jon Rou

HISTORY AND MYSTERY | In these two illustrations, Martin Luther is shown to be one of the first to place candles on the branches of the evergreen tree brought inside (above, left) and the English monarchy that was Victoria and Albert are credited for popularizing the decorated tree in 1841 (above, right).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ageless and evergreen

THE GREEN MAN motif in art and mythology has many variations. It is found in many cultures around the world. Often related to deities of nature, it is most often rendered as a face formed by leafy vegetation. As an ancient Pagan icon, the Green Man is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of growth each spring—much like the early decorated evergreen trees came to represent. Some speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in the traditions of separate ancient cultures and evolved into a wide variety of permutations found throughout the world (from Osiris to Peter Pan, and even an ivy-wreathed Father Christmas, for example). He frequently appears, carved in wood or stone, in churches, chapels, abbeys and cathedrals, where examples can be found dating from the 11th century through to the 20th century. Early Christian missionaries would often accomodate local gods such as the Green Man and adapt them into obscure saints. In any case, the Green Man survives as an ultimate symbol of man's connection to nature, as well as a vital symbol of pre-Christian tradition. 

ORNAMENTS that represent a figure are rarely rooted in something deeper than a cartoon character or something meaningless and cute. When a figural ornament catches my eye, there has to be a personification of something in nature involved—something that has a magical and enduring quality to it—much like the Green Man. I have collected several ornaments over the years that personify the evergreen tree and find them to be one of the purest representations of what the custom means to me. The appearance of the first decorated tree dates back to 15th century Germany or earlier, but didn't appear in America until the 1700's. Even so, the decorated tree didn't catch on in the United States until ornaments were brought here by families immigrating from Germany and England in the 1840's after being popularized by the German Prince Albert and his wife Queen Victoria.

THE FRUIT of evergreen trees is the cone or pod, which contains the seeds. Pine cones were the first  glass ornaments made and are a large part of my collection. One of the most memorable Christmas trees of my childhood was a living white pine tree that our family planted in the corner of my parent's yard at the corner of Abel Street and Highway 278 in Hokes Bluff, Alabama. Before my siblings and I sold the property (a couple of years after our parent's death in 2005), I took pictures of the tree, which must have been at least fifty or sixty feet tall at the time. I also collected the large cones that were scattered across the yard with the intent to make a huge wreath out of them.

THIS TREE (left, middle) must have been my first lesson in how meaningful the evergreen would become to me. I fondly remember my father and I laboriously decorating it with those large multi-colored outdoor lights every year until the tree grew too large to manage such an endeavor and too unsafe for the electrical circuits in our home. The annual Christmas trees at the Rockefeller Center in New York City or at the White House in Washington, D.C. had nothing on us in our corner of Alabama. I would stare out the window at that tree every holiday, even after it wasn't lit—imagining it in its first incarnation as a Christmas tree in our living room. It was a beacon in our community for all the light and love my parents gave to our family and will always live in my memory as an ageless and evergreen feat of magic during the holidays.

TREE PERSONIFIED | The face in the tree (top, right) could be interpreted as Santa (or Father Christmas) as well as the Green Man (right) in this unusual figural tree ornament handcrafted in Poland and purchased from Home Goods (2008). A spriteful wood-nymph-as-tree ornament was purchased in 2008 at Papyrus in Lenox Square Mall, Atlanta (where the Macy's Great Tree is lit every holiday).This pine cone ornament's unique coloration is from raku firing (an ancient Japanese technique), hand-casted by J. Davis Studio and was purchased at Maralyn Wilson Gallery in Birmingham, Alabama in 2005. The wooden box made from a hollowed out limb or trunk (shown supporting the figural ornaments) is from Tozai Home. The lid is made flush from a slice of the trunk or limb and rotates on a hidden screw hinge to one side. A similar box could be crafted from your discarded holiday tree trunk.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland; green man art from unknown artist

Friday, September 4, 2009

feats of clay

STILL HEARING the call of birds, it was interesting to discover that some believe Jesus produced miracles at an early age. "According to the legend, the main source for which is the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, the child Jesus, playing one day in the mud, took some of it and modeled it into birds. When he clapped his hands, they came to life, and flew away."*

CERAMIC BIRDS (made of fired hand-formed clay or molded clay slip), although not as delicate and not always as colorful as their blown glass counterparts, are still a beautiful addition to the decorated tree. My ever-increasing collection of bird ornaments contains all sorts of shapes, sizes and materials. I usually prefer the German glass ones, because they delicately perch on top of tree branches (attached with metal clips). Ceramic birds make a statement all-their-own. They can be washed or glazed with color, crackle-glazed, or clear-glazed with natural clay tones showing through.

IN TALKING with my coworker and good friend Peggy (who is a talented photographer and visual designer), she mentioned how much she liked my previous post about birds. She said she always thought of birds as messengers. Indeed, they are. They seemed to be tuned into the rhythm of the natural world much more than we humans are in our industrialized existence. Symbols, legend and lore involving birds are endless and timeless.   

IF NOTHING else, birds are our companions to nature in its purest state. And they are reminders of what it is like to always be able to take flight, even if only in our imaginations—a miracle in itself. 

FLYING FREE |  These porcelain clay ornaments (top, right) were found in three disparate places. (From top, to bottom), a crackle-glazed bird ornament from Kurt S. Adler bought at the Tannenbaum Christmas Shop in Omaha, Nebraska; in the middle is a handmade bird bought from an artisan at the Inman Park Festival in Atlanta; at bottom is a ceramic bird ornament from the Martha Stewart Everyday collection at Kmart.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

MEDIEVAL MYSTERY | (Left) In a church wall painting (probably dated from the 15th century) at Shorthampton Parish in Oxfordshire, England, the infant Jesus is held by his mother on her right arm and holds one of the clay birds out to another child on her other arm (probably Jesus' half-brother James).*

*Information from the web catalog (Medieval Wall Painting in the English Parish Church) of Anne Marshall, retired Associate Lecturer, The Open University in the U.K.. Photo by T. Marshall. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

song of (her) life

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. 
It sings because it has a song.
                                                —Chinese Proverb

I'M   F A S C I N A T E D  with birds. This spring, I hung three bird feeders in a dying tree to bring some life to it. They bring a myriad of birds to dine just outside my dining room window.

I'M   N O T   S U R E  whether it was when crows weirdly gathered on my mother's hospital room window ledge while she was on her deathbed, but ever since then I've been especially aware of birds whenever I see them. I've always loved their happy nature and it's obvious they have an uncanny sense of their surroundings in possessing a profound sense of the natural order of things.

T H E Y   B R I N G  a cheerful song to anyone who takes the time to listen. My mother gave our family the song of her life. In doing so, she gave us all an authentic sense of ourselves. My sister and I were at her bedside when she died. I was holding mother's left hand and my sister held her right hand. It was a heart-wrenching, but profound experience watching her take her last breath—the woman who was there for both of us for our first breath. I've never felt such a desperate loss and uplifting sense of peace at the same time, but I did that day (July 10, 2005). I felt as if my world had been turned inside-out and upside-down. I'll always remember my mother telling me when she knew something I thought she didn't. She would say, "A little bird told me so." I believed it. Now I know—birds must be protectors of the soul.

M E S S E N G E R S  of love and harbingers of good things to come, glass birds have become a universal symbol of happiness and joy when placed on the decorated tree. Few glassblowing studios make them well because they are one of the more difficult ornaments to make. You'll find them with actual feathers for tails, but in Germany, their tails were originally made from bundles of spun glass. Both types have their own charm. More often than not, they are attached to springed clips so you can position them atop branches of the tree, rather than hanging below. This makes them very useful in composing a beautiful tree.

C O N V I N C E D  they are our protectors, I think birds can foretell things to come—both good and bad. Imagine if you always had a bird's-eye view of life. No matter which they bring, they always give us joyful songs of life. Even though we don't know a word they are saying, we understand them to be wise creatures, indeed.

A N D  T O  T H E  women who raised me—my mother and my sister (shorty momma)—I know you're out there—I love you both with all of my heart and soul.

HAPPY HARBINGERS | These three bird ornaments were bought as a boxed set, from Michael's Stores, Inc. (above, right). They are attached to a dead stem from the tree which I hung bird feeders this spring (left), which decorate the tree just outside my dining room window.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland