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, December 25, 2017

hope dies last

THE VERY ESSENCE of a Christmas tree is a physical meditation of hope for the renewal that spring brings. Our world seems to be having a long, hard winter right now, but hope springs eternal, as it always does. We have to hold onto that with our loved ones and the friends in our lives that see the world as we want it to be, even when its not Christmas. This ritual of hope is embodied in The Decorated Tree.

THIS TREE, with woodland creatures, birds, stars, hearts and moons hidden in its branches embodies the magic of the season. Although it doesn't take anything this elaborate to find the spirit of Christmas, it can be as simple as a single candle, for us to reflect on what's important. The people in our lives, our special relationships with our pets, and remembrance of loved ones that are no longer with us, are all what makes the season meaningful.

I THINK I've achieved some of that with this tree. It may be one of my favorites because it is imbued with the hope and light of the season in a playful way— having a lot of delightful surprises scattered throughout. But the theme is consistent — a magical mix of things that could make even the hardest of hearts happy.

IT WAS A VICTORY of spirit for the world way back in late 1944 in the WWII Battle of the Bulge, and my brave father was part of it. During the wake of the Allied forces' successful D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, it seemed as if the Second World War was all but over. On Dec. 16, with the onset of winter, the German army launched a counteroffensive that was intended to cut through the Allied forces in a manner that would turn the tide of the war in Hitler's favor.

THE BATTLE that ensued known historically as the Battle of the Bulge was on, and the courage and fortitude of American soldiers like my father was sorely tested. Nevertheless, the the ultimate response meant the victory of freedom over tyranny (at least for many decades in this country).

I REMEMBER my father every year at this time. He told me how cold it was in the trenches in the snow-covered Ardennes forest in Belgium and how Patton was his hero because he saved his troop from the cold. That's why I continue with The Resistance in the battle we're now facing with the current presidential fiasco at hand.

AND SO, WITH HOPE, and my fight right here in our own country, my father's service won't have been in vain. The current political climate turns a blind eye to the fight of greed over goodness. Hope truly dies last, and I won't let history repeat itself if I can help, in my own small way, to put an end to it. America was great then, but it has become only a hollow slogan now, if we don't back it up with the best of our better angels. I intend to do all I can to make that happen. It's my way of keeping my father's spirit alive.

MY PARENTS instilled in me this hope at Christmas every year of my childhood and it made the strongest of impressions. So I'd like to part with this quote from Joan Winmill Brown: "When Christmas Day comes, there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes."

©2017 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland

Sunday, April 16, 2017

a golden easter

SPRING CAME EARLY this year. We all needed this, whether it was by design or if Mother Nature was sounding her alarms. The ephemeral quality of the warmth brought to us this time of year gives us the hope for a rebirth of our spirits and the dedication to embracing the miraculous transformation we have the privilege to watch unfold before us. The delicate flowers of spring bring hope to the forefront.
ANIMAL SPIRIT: If spring has an animal spirit, it's definitely the Easter bunny! This one may or may not have hung the tree above with eggs.
WHEN WE WERE KIDS, the anticipation of the Easter bunny leaving us a basket filled with saccharine-sweet confections was only outshone by Santa at Christmastime. In a lot of ways, the fresh nature of spring was always brighter, if not bolder, than the winter holiday. Easter baskets are now linked with the Easter holiday, while ancient religions determine our date with the new season of growth. Easter Sunday is always determined to be the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. 

BUNNY TALES: These beautiful bunny chocolates made locally (in Atlanta) by Pastry Chef Jocelyn Gragg of Jardí Chocolates are some of the most delicately beautiful and delicious I've seen (or eaten). When you buy an "Easter Adoption Box" of them, the profits go to local House Rabbit Societies all across the country. Crossing the pond, you can find these bunny tails from Great Britain's Charbonnel et Walker, which are actually Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles (by appointment to Her Majesty, The Queen, no less). 
AS ADULTS, we develop a taste for a more sophisticated way of celebrating the season if there are no kids around. I've gathered a trio of delectable chocolate confections for this Easter spread. The most exciting find was the beautiful handmade chocolate bunnies. But the Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles, I'm calling bunny tails, just for fun, because the kid in me is still there. No Easter is complete without chocolate eggs. These are infused with a heady 60% dark chocolate combined with a blood orange/olive oil mix.
EGG COMPLEXITY: These molded small batch eggs are from local Atlanta XOCOLATL Chocolate and are made of dark chocolate, blood orange, olive oil and packaged in a jar with crystallized ginger.
WHILE EASTER BASKETS of the ancient religions were based on the cycle of growth in spring. Farmers gathered seedlings of their new crops in baskets for blessings for a successful year. Modern Christian baskets symbolized the end of Lenten fasting, when we feast on a large Easter meal. That feast had its beginnings with that meal being brought to the church in large baskets for blessings by the priests.

SYMBOLS OF ABUNDANCE: These marbelized eggs were combined with papier mâché eggs gilded with gold foil for my Easter tree.
GOLDEN EGGS: Gold-leafing is a surprisingly simple process, but it takes a bit of time and patience as any craft does. The reward is worth it. I used papier
mâché eggs as a base.
GOLDEN DAFFODILS: My father loved spring more than any season. These delicate yellow daffodils are a happy reminder of him.
My Easter tree is usually only adorned with eggs. Some are marbelized and some are gilded with gold foil to celebrate the rebirth and renewal of the season. Eggs are the ultimate symbol of that. And bunnies are a symbol of fertility and hope for the continued tradition of celebrating Mother Earth's miraculous yearly rebirth.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland