A C O R N S, as we all know, are the seeds of the mighty oak tree. These beautiful little capped nuts were one of the main food sources of the nomadic tribes in prehistoric Europe and were considered sacred because they provided food, housing and fire. The oak tree was revered in many cultures because it represented strength and endurance, especially for the Celts and Norse. Oak wood is traditionally burned for the Yule fire on Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year). Burning an oak Yule log represents the rebirth of the sun and the days becoming longer.
T H E D R U I D S thought of the oak as imparting divine knowledge if you listened to the whispering secrets in the wind-rustled leaves. Acorns were thought to give one magical powers and the gift of prophecy when eaten. Aside from the very beauty of acorns, from all accounts, they and the trees they become hold a revered place in history. I'm always in awe of a beautiful old oak tree, tree-hugger that I am.
T H E L I V E O A K is one of my favorite types of oak trees. Their gnarled down-swept limbs are usually hanging with Spanish moss and have an amazing mystical quality. Another unusual quality is that these trees are evergreen (their branches don't loose all their leaves in the winter). Some of the most beautiful specimens I've seen are on Sapelo Island, Georgia an hour south of Savannah (not counting the ferry trip to the island). The human history of this island is quite long and varied, dating back at least 4,500 years, Not far from Sapelo, is Cumberland Island. It is Georgia's southernmost barrier island and is known for its pristine and wide primordial beaches abundant with wild horses running free and sea turtles laying their eggs. It is also known as the wedding spot for John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette when they were married there in 1996 (rest their souls).
F O R T H E F I R S T anniversary (of another memorable night), Jon surprised me with tickets for Halloween night at Cavalia, which is currently running in Atlanta. The artistic director of this production, Normande Latourelle, helped build Cirque du Soliel during its most raw and creative years (1985-1990). In one of the many beautiful scenarios in the production, there was one with falling leaves (abstract leaf-shaped tissue), which Jon and I collected at the end of the performance while waiting on our visit to the stables afterwards to see all the incredible horses (almost 60 of them!). Some of these leaves are used in the background of the photo of part of my acorn ornament collection (above, right). I've not been especially enthralled by the last few traveling productions of Cirque du Soleil, but this is something entirely new and refreshing (it is also performed under a tent, shown below), and visually explores horses in art history along with the beautiful visceral bond between horses and humans. The most intimate moments of the production were when the human performers, were alone in playful moments with the horses—which were absolutely amazing. The beginning scenes were so poetically visual, tears welled up in my eyes. It was a stunningly beautiful night.
SEEDS OF LIFE | Some of my glass acorn ornament collection (above, left) nestled in an acorn-shaped ceramic bowl and a pressed paper acorn ornament box (from Martha Stewart Crafts). Ornaments are both new and antique from a variety of sources [Martha by Mail, Martha Stewart Everyday Collection from Kmart, Inge-Glas of Germany (star-capped) and Old World Christmas Ornaments, among others).
HORSE WHISPERERS | The Cavalia logo art (above, right) brilliantly reflects two two-legged human figures with the four-legged horse illustration. Ironically, acorns can be toxic (in large quantities) to horses because of the tannin (an acidic chemical) content.
BIG TOP | Far superior in many ways than some of the most recent traveling Cirque du Soleil productions under their signature blue and gold big top, Cavalia is performed under a large tent that is simply white (above).
©2009 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED,
collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland