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.

Friday, April 9, 2010

spring forward

This pale green goose feather tree is abundant with spring-themed ornaments from my collection. Topped with a patterned ceramic bird, the effect is magical.

THE  POLLEN  COUNT  this past Wednesday in Atlanta was 5,733 (particles of pollen per cubic meter of air). The count was more than 2,000 higher than last spring's peak and only 280 below the record reading of 6,013, set on April 12, 1999. The major pollens present are from trees of course (birch, oak, pine and sweetgum), so this is an especially fertile year, which makes one feel like Dorothy must have felt on the yellow brick road crossing the poppy field to find Oz. Nature is having a full-tilt orgy all around (pollen is essentially the "sperm" of trees). While my allergies are not yet going haywire, I do feel a certain edgy lethargy in breathing air heavy with pollen. Everything is dusted with a powdery yellow-green. And the air is thick with the stuff of life.

MAYBE  I'VE  BEEN  too effective in my spring-inducing ritual of decorating trees. The wet and cold winter here (in Atlanta) suddenly gave up the ghost, and everything is blooming at once instead of in stages as it usually does. Everywhere you look, there's something sprouting new life, from the tiny white strawberry blooms in the strawberry pot on my deck to the spring bulbs showing their vibrant colors. The holiday tree I decorated a few years back as a harbinger of spring tells such a story of abundant life. I was thinking of my father when I was creating it, because his favorite season was spring. Down to the white picket fencing around the base and the long ribbons suggesting a summer Maypole dance around the tree, this was a fresh and cheerful presence during the winter holidays that year—a direct representation of the lore of the origins of the decorated tree and a pre-season celebration of the return to brighter and warmer days.

AN  ARTIST  FRIEND,  (Ande Cook), whom I have been fortunate enough to work with in a past job was also commissioned to paint a number of works for Atlanta Botanical Garden a few years ago. I bought a print of one of the paintings pictured (left) which illustrates the mythology of the spring season with a blackbird serving as a canvas for all the life of the season. Like this painting, spring is truly the most forward-looking season of the year—an abundant promise. And I'm loving spring's warmth, despite the lethargic reaction to the pollen. It's a chance to appreciate the surprise of new life in every form, once again.

WINTER INTO SPRING |  (Top and above, right) This pale green goose feather tree (from the defunct Martha by Mail catalog) is abundant with spring-themed ornaments from my collection. Topped with a ceramic bird patterned much like the painting shown above, the effect was winter magic.

HARBINGER OF SPRING |  (Above, left) A blackbird lands on the winter forest floor and spreads her wings with a promise of spring to come. The original painting by talented artist Ande Cook is gouache on panel and one of 16 works commissioned by Atlanta Botanical Garden. You can buy a high-quality digital print like mine in her Etsy shop.

photography by Claudia Lopez, styling by Darryl Moland
painting by Ande Cook

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