All posts by heath quinn

Bearsville Solstice, 2017

This was where she lived. Her mind she saw as a purple martin colony house. Roof, floors and walls served to divide, to protect her feelings from stormy people, and predators. The doors connected her to the open world.

If life could be lived fearlessly, such a house would be redundant. She listened. Transition. Baby animals had their early-summer, hungry cries going. Wind teased the pines, their needles soft like smoke. A crow sat and held the topmost branch, whether for watching, or for food, she didn’t know.

A pale-yellow butterfly, a swallowtail, with black stripes and borders, but missing its tails, drank from scarlet lilies by the east fence. That bright but deep red, with a hint of persimmon, she hadn’t found a name for that color, yet.

The sage blooms were almost done. That baby animal cry came again.

“Watching,” said the crow.

A mate answered, “Watching, too.”

They talked back and forth.

Were they conversing, or were they saying, “That woman’s in the field again.”?

Then, some bird who chuckles. Some chirping, as you’d expect. Babies calling high but small. A thrush-type bird with a complicated song, delivered in couplets, sounding like a performance by twenty different birds in succession. And now a chorus rises. Have they gotten used to her, or is it their crepuscular habit? Whistles. And woodpecker hammers.

Sugar ants on the table: avoid the binoculars, please.

A small, dark shadow, emitting a low-pitched hum, five feet from her, at face height, looking at her, watching her surprise. Zooms off, with a long, low, “Z-z-z-z-z.” A first hummingbird.

Crow closer now, sending his call down into the yard, in her direction. Does he approve her stillness, appreciate her surprise? Is he a guardian?

Woods so full of birdsong and wind that the creek is almost inaudible. She hears it when she turns away.

The hollow where a rabbit lay last night. She hopes they’ll come again.

Till then, she’ll practice her cursive, which dances sometimes now, but otherwise stumbles, stutters and looks for a steady bass line.

Your emotions are clear, when writing slow, on paper. You can tell when something is too much. (Too little is no problem: a future open door.)

As she packs up, she notes a small, brownish bird, in the grass by the lilies.

No, it’s a baby rabbit. Maybe three inches long. It hops, and holds. She watches. It watches. She rises and takes her basket, and it holds still, still.

Too cute by half. Or more. No writing cursive anymore, can’t tell when it’s too much, now.

Love that little rabbit.

June evening in Bearsville

A half-lit moon
in subdued sky,
an evening breeze
and rustling leaves,
and scents of pine
and sweetgum,
above the intermittent
runs of tires
on Yerry Hill,
and Sawkill’s
steady, hissing sough.

Then two birds sing
and one dove mourns
the loss of day,
while darkest squirrel
flies shadowed path
the sage in bloom.

#spring #roughhaiga

April discovery

Bunny knoll is maintained by its rabbits. Sweet clover, blue and variegated violets, lambs-quarters, and dandelions, are kept sheared low. Dandelion blossoms stand tall and bright for two days, then disappear, leaving no subsequent seedheads. The rabbits’ hillock’s dense stands of rounded leaves and low-to-ground flowers, shaded by a neighbor’s dark pink malus (crabapple) and fuschia-colored buddleja (butterfly bush), abuts a lawn of soft-textured grasses five inches high. Their mini-meadow survives despite several power mowings last year.


Late March, 2017

Velvet rain. Small clatter of
sleet. Velvet again,
& the duck chime’s bamboo notes.

#spring #haiku

November rain, Woodstock, duck and bamboo chimes, woods, fog, yard, sage
November rain, Woodstock, duck and bamboo chimes, woods, fog, yard, sage (digital photo), by heather quinn

The case for the social share

A lot of creative people are reluctant to share their work, and thoughts, on social media, blogs and websites.

They (justifiably) worry about intellectual property theft, being unfairly trolled, and the shyness factor that’s the most common reaction when you show profound, personal work to strangers.

People may choose to avoid sharing. Or, they may share via a rigid, limited, or semi-private presentation framework, so they can control who sees what, as well as the formats and sizes of their work.

I’d like to make a case for open, casual sharing, including via Twitter and Pinterest:

When people read or view your work, even when no one gives you feedback, you’ll see your work through new eyes.

When you capture a moment in your creative life by openly sharing your work, if you’ve done it online, publicly, you’ve archived the moment. If, after some time, you go back to that moment, you’ll see your work through new eyes.

Open, casual sharing creates interactions that let you see others’ points of view, and use time itself, to create conceptual spaces that help you see your work in fresh ways.

The right kind of sharing brings oxygen into your creative process. It challenges your preconceptions. It lights up your imagination. Solutions develop on their own. Silly things become obvious. You edit yourself better. You develop more depth and complexity in content, and more simplicity and mercy in presentation.

Case in point: I’m writing this across the room from a TV, where Chromecast is playing a slide show. Some of the pics are generic photos, some are mine, and one of the latter is a photo of an oak tree.

Oak trees hold onto their leaves longer than other trees, in autumn. This tree has done that. It has a warm, dark brown trunk, and strangely-hung leaves like large, brittle catkins, which look striking, against an intense, yet placid, blue autumn sky veiled with thin clouds. The scene is backdropped by the tops of more-distant trees, some bare, some still with leaves.

I liked the scene enough to capture it a few years ago. But once captured, it made me feel uneasy. And I didn’t like sharing it. I didn’t understand what I liked about it, or didn’t like.

Now time, and an accidental and unexpectedly-large visual framework (the TV), are showing me a fresh view of the pic. Emotionally distant from it, I realize it’s just a good, strong composition. It has vibrant colors, forms and textures. What’s not to like? It’s not mine anymore. Except, it is. And time has taught me something about visual art, and myself, through this photo.

I posted it openly, casually, even though it made me uneasy, on my website, Google Photos, Pinterest, and Facebook.

The risk turned out to be negligible. The reward is joy.

A mystery solved (why did it make me uneasy? it was so strong, and I wasn’t, then). A discovery about art: I understand composition and framing better. Two learnings: where I was weak on behalf of my art, now I’m strong; where I was denying my softness, now I’m relaxed.

Oak at the Heather Garden, Fort Tryon Park, NYC (digital photo), by heather quinn