Minerva's Path

Seeking wisdom, meaning and balance through creativity.

I climbed a mountain to look at a lake

I climbed a mountain

to look at a lake

that was clothed in fog.

But I saw the forest

and the trees:

Bare branches crystallized

in frozen mist;

Winterberry trees dressed

for a cocktail party;

Dead trunks polka-dotted

with green splotches of moss;

A snowy trail, a shadow

wending between birches

and pine and stone;

A broken trunk swiss-cheesed

by hungry woodpeckers.

Snow crunched under

my snowshoes.

I shed hat and gloves;

my scarf became a

scarlet voyageur’s sash.

Near the summit I beheld

the glint of sky on water

I ran to the summit

as the sky opened up to show

A lake running into heavens

amid islands of stone and cloud.

The sun

came out to watch

as the lake disrobed.

January 18, 2010
Oberg Trail, near Lutsen, Minn.

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

What Martha doesn’t tell you

You know, before I size my hand-made britches too large, I think it’s important to divulge that a creative life isn’t all about completed to-do lists and perfectly executed works of practical art. I wonder who else has baskets of half-finished projects that get put away long before the tree hits the curb.

I love Martha Stewart and all the creative gurus like her. But I wish they’d show more behind the scenes, about the projects that go terribly wrong, or that ended up to be totally not worth the trouble.

Christmastime is the best of times and the worst of times when it comes to creativity. There are so many opportunities to think about beautiful, personalized, hand-made gifts, greetings, decorations and treats. Never does the world glitter with possibility as it does in the last dark month of the year. But we’re running like crazy people, trying to fit in shopping, cooking, cherished time with friends and family.

This year, as always, I had grand plans: Hand-made cards. Personalized gifts for my brother and his family. Cookies. A home sparkling with greens, lights and colors. Well, some of those goals came to pass. Others didn’t.

The card template didn’t work on my printer. I bought the wrong pattern for my brother’s family’s gifts. I burned half my cookies trying to do laundry and bake simultaneously. The house barely was cleaned, much less decorated.

But I ordered copies of my best photograph as a greeting card, and made the rest into an online slideshow.

The photo illustration I dreamed about for months, a collage of us next to the letters at our Walker Library in Uptown, juxtaposed onto a winter photo I took last year at Lake Harriet. This became our holiday card, which is good because my original collage really didn't showcase its coolness. By the way, the letters reflect our family members' last initials. Clever, huh?

I took an evening to slow down and make cookies again; this time, Isaac helped with mixing and cutting. My brother’s family’s gifts still are a pile of uncut fabric and tissue paper, but they’ve been understanding. (Thanks, guys.)

Sometimes it’s been an exercise in frustration. But I think there’s a lesson there, if I can learn it, to slow down, simplify, celebrate success, play together and ask for understanding when things don’t go the way you’d planned. And the understanding needs to come from within, as well.

For the new year, I think I need to look at creativity the same way people ask us to look at charity. It should be all year round, not concentrated in the glitter of the holidays. And in order to be successful, I need to ask less of myself and cherish more appreciation for not just the completed projects but the process, too.

No. 1 on my list for 2010: My brother’s Christmas gift for 2009.

It’s coming, before Valentine’s Day!

January 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment