Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cultivation Time

This past week, I finished writing How to Make a Book, my rough guide to bookbinding. Explaining futzy directions turned out to be harder than I expected, but a person could conceivably bind a book following the set I wrote--with the aid of the photos.

The book I made to illustrate the process turned out so very scruffy, since I used all found-materials, I decided to add a photo of a couple slicker looking books, just to show that the same steps can lead to different end results, depending on what materials you use (and how much care you take in measurements and the like).

I chose the two books above, which I made years ago, because their seed-packet covers are seasonal, now we have passed spring equinox. (Well, and also because I gave away or sold almost all the other books I made.)

Here in the northland, the ground is frozen and it's way too early to plant seeds, but today feels springy nonetheless.
Some signs of the season:
the ice-pack around my bike, which I left out last fall in hopes the weather would stay mild enough to bike (ha!), has thawed;
I saw my first robin of the year yesterday (about three weeks later than usual);
and the tap water has started to taste and smell slightly fishy, which it does when winter finally melts.

This morning, I also hauled out my art supplies to start a series of cards (left) I've long been meaning to make, using an old guide to color mixing I found years ago. The book's color names and descriptions read like poetry--even the lists of ingredients: "cobalt violet, emeraude green, touch of ivory black..."

Making simple cards like these is just a matter of tearing, layering, and pasting, maybe sewing a bit. It's a sign of how low I was for several years that I didn't do any of this. I actually bought Christmas cards to send. And it's a sign of how back-to-myself I am that it feels effortless again to make cards now.

Unlike my mother, many of my friends, and U.S. senator Thomas Eagleton, I've never experienced depression I couldn't identify as arising (or descending) from the events and situations of my life:
high school, working in a windowless cubicle, my mother's suicide, months at a time spent researching places like Sudan--all these have sent me spiraling into darkness, to different depths and for different lengths of time.

It's especially hard when dreadful stuff overlaps, which it does.
The combo of those last two (suicide and geography) put me into an emotional coma for about three years. I was so listless for so long, I started to think maybe this was my natural energy level.

Then, a couple years ago, I was coming home on the city bus one day and this sentence came to me, like a revelation:
"I want more life."

Since then, I've felt like Rip van Winkle, gradually reentering life again.
It's been weird.
I find myself doing things I used to do, like making art or laughing out loud, and I wonder, Where have I been for so long?


Anonymous said...

I was so touched by your words, the lovely and impressive books you made, and the unique cards of yours. . .all I can think of (as the morning sun shines in here as I sit at the computer)is the words to a hymn from long long ago we used to sing at Easter service. . .

Earth her joy confesses, clothing her for spring/ All fresh gifts returned with her returning King/ Bloom in every meadow, leaves on every bough/ Speak his sorrow ended, hail his triumph now/ "Welcome happy morning!" age to age shall say.

Loose the souls long prisoned, bound with Satan's chain/ All that now is fallen raise to life again/ Show thy face in brightness, bid the nations see/ Bring again our daylight: day returns with thee/
"Welcome happy morning!" age to age shall say/

fresca said...

"Loose the souls long imprisoned...": great line. I love all the times Jesus says some version of "Unbind him." Anyone who has been bound by depression can surely relate to those images of being set loose.
"Weclome happy morning" indeed!

Matt_J said...

Very happy for you F (and thanks for the book pictures).

fresca said...

Thanks! (and you're welcome) Matt.