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, October 30, 2015

the all-seeing tree

THERE IS A HALLOW'S EVE tale I'm sure you've never heard before. It is the story of the All-Seeing Tree. You see, there was once a gardener named Mary Ann who lived not long ago. She was introduced to me by my photographer friend Harold. We used to go sit and be entertained by her for hours on end — always enthralled. She would tell us fascinating stories of her life, with her beloved railroad-hobo dog right beside her in her chair.

MARY ANN'S HANDS | My photographer friend Harold Daniels took this photo of Mary Ann's hands placed on a large worn book as a surface and gifted me a digital print of it on watercolor paper. In the years since she died, her hands have taken on a ghostly look, while the colors in the book cover have become more pronounced. I'm convinced her green thumb had something to do with this alchemy, blooming into an even more intriguing and beautiful photograph.
SHE WAS A KINDRED creative soul and wasn't afraid to speak her mind — both Harold and I loved her for her independent spirit. And boy did she have a finely-tuned eye for beautiful things. Our visits with her were mesmerizing and always fun. And there was the usual offering of simple, but sophisticated food, even though she was living on a fixed income. We both delighted in spending time with her. It was certainly not an obligation. And she learned as much from us as we did from her.

TO DESCRIBE HER, you only need look at her time-worn hands and they told most of the story. To describe the rest of her — she was a tall, big-boned woman, the stature of Julia Child — but she was the expert on gardening instead of cooking. Succulents were her favorite plants and she gave me one of her specimen frilly Echeveria plants one time. After that I was hooked on succulents, having had a green thumb myself all my life. She grew all sorts of plants in her greenhouse, but succulents were her thing. And she made her own hypertufa pots for them and sold beautifully-arranged containers to supplement her fixed income.

SPOOKY TREAT | A green thumb extends beyond the grave. Life is continually recycled and there is a definite collective consciousness at work even after someone is gone.
SPIDER INDUSTRY | This wire-webbed glass cloche filled with balls of moss is a perfect home for a very industrious army of spiders.
IN MAKING THIS All-Seeing Tree come to life, I invoke the memory of Mary Ann and create the following fictional tale that was surely inspired by the afterlife: You see, after Mary Ann died, her greenhouse was left shut tight with the plants remaining there to fend for themselves. The spiders played a big role in gathering water to nourish the plants by slipping to and fro through the cracks in the doors, bringing as many droplets of water as they could. As their army grew and the greenhouse soon became as self-sufficient and as lush as a terrarium.

CANDY STOP | This pedestal container of licorice in the shape of tiny skulls is a delectible treat for a Halloween that is spooky, yet fun.
ON ONE HALLOW'S EVE night, this tree miraculously sprung up in a beautiful gothic pot left in the greenhouse, It quickly produced "fruit" that looked back at you. Even though you weren't entirely convinced that the fruit could see, you knew it connected you with something. Even if it seemed a bit spooky, it left you with a certain knowing that our connection with the spirits beyond this realm is surely real, and gives you a real sense of satisfaction that our loved ones live on.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY is that what we see isn't always real, but what we don't see can be very real. Mary Ann would be sure to let it be known that life is what you make it. And there's nothing spooky about that at all. In fact, it's a real treat.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland


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