As I wrote previously, Spring is always challenging with its uncertain weather. I am accustomed to the usual concerns of buds about to flower only to be damaged by frost. One waits an entire year to re-experience the spring glory after a long winter. I was not certain I should write this column this month, or pretend that nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. However, that seemed less than honest, considering I took on this endeavor to explore the connections between gardening and our lives.

We sustained a microburst (or very intense wind event) at our home on April 21st. There was a moderate amount of damage to the landscape and home that I love. I remind myself of the newscasts revealing entire towns and cities destroyed by fire, tornado, or floods. Though I consider myself empathic, it is quite a different feeling to experience events first hand. We have many downed forest trees, tops of trees blown and thrown from their trunks, and breaks to ornamental trees, shrubs, and plants.

Most significantly, I am grieving the loss of my art installation. Ruth Lemay, a dear Nelson resident, had forwarded a story to me about Michael Pendry, a German artist who had created an installation of doves for the Salisbury Cathedral. His web site is listed and linked below. I hope you will be touched as I was by the beauty of this work and its story. His vision inspired me to create an art installation of my own in my “spiritual cathedral”, my garden.

This project has evolved greatly since its initial conception 2 1/2 years ago. Greg has patiently supported me in the process; bringing his enthusiasm, engineering skills, and countless hours of hands-on effort. Its implementation was more complicated than I had anticipated and has been continually modified with great care, love, passion, and some frustration. Due to the storm, the steel posts are now twisted, and its supporting wires broken. The project was ambitious and cannot be re-done.

Ornament and sculpture are important components of the garden, a place where one’s feelings can be fully experienced by both the creator and visitor. This installation was a delight to me on so many levels. I watched and listened as the wind would travel through my install, reminiscent of a flock of birds flying over the water, like a murmuration. Bells rang and crystals sparkled. Sheer colored panels of gold and burgundy fluttered in the wind. At night, the install glowed under red, purple and white solar lights. It was endlessly magical to me, but not without its challenges. The birds tangled in the grid and broke off their aluminum wires, fabric frayed, pulleys malfunctioned, grids damaged by snow loads, and bamboo rods that developed mold utterly resistant to our cleaning efforts. The origami cranes were made of tyvek, a house wrapping material with a life span of just a few years when exposed to uv light. For me, this fact served to increase its specialness. I wasn’t prepared that a storm would end my vision (and efforts) so suddenly.

We are often not prepared for losses. I have a ten foot hole in my driveway, a slash in our metal roof, a cracked bedroom ceiling and beam, and downed trees everywhere I look. But, it is the damage to my installation that has impacted me the most. My eyes seeking and my heart grieving whenever I look out my window or walk my garden path.

Fortunately, new ideas are already taking place. It will not be as dramatic, but may be more in tune with my energy and sensibility of today. There will be new problems to address. I know It will take time to adjust to my “repurposed” install. But, it is deeply reassuring to know I still have the possibility to dream and (hopefully) create something beautiful and meaningful anew.

In the meantime I hope you will enjoy my “install” photos/video….and share in my memories.

My Garden Installation

40 long by 10 ft wide, 9 feet high ~ Approximately 1500 folded cranes, butterflies, with Bells, Crystals and Sheer fabric

In The Snow

Linda and Greg

The Installation by Night

Kami surveys the damage

Thank You

David Kenard and Marty French: for their help with the installation of 15 (12-foot) poles
Craig Smith: for site preparation
Mitsuko Tuccillo: For the nature inspired calligraphy on the cranes
Christo and Jean-Claude: For the idea of colored fabric inspired by his Central Park flag installation
Greg: Infinite support and love

The Inspiration