Friday, August 27, 2010

Still Center

Bark Beetle

Last weekend we walked past this tree whilst hiking through a dry forest area. A recent wind storm had felled several trees, including magnificent twin cedars, though the tree photographed above perhaps toppled for other reasons. Maybe the trails of bark beetle larvae indicate why it is no longer facing the sky.  On a hike in nature, or in the city, or anywhere really, it is possible to see beauty. One could fill a camera with images every day. The dilemma I have at times is to choose what to pause the hike for in order to photograph. There is balance to walking, stopping, photographing - three separate aspects of a hike.

As I said we walked past this tree and I then had second thoughts and we re-traced our steps and took this photograph. I was initially attracted to the organic, purposeful rambles of the larvae. I think these patterns are marvellous. However, on closer observation the central area from which the larvae tracks emanate is discernible. It is this area which has captured my imaginings.

A mother beetle lays her eggs in a spot under the bark. The eggs hatch into larvae and eat their way onwards, through, and outwards, drawing nourishment from the tree, eventually pupating and flying off to lay their eggs in another tree. Cycles. Many metaphors can be extrapolated from this process. I have thought about it in several ways, for example, motherhood, friendships, words, cloth making. I have wondered if underlying all these aspects of  life there is a word that best fits the still centre deep inside, for a woman, anyway. If there is, perhaps that word is 'fertility'.

Fertility is a beautiful word. Over-full with bounty, promise, hope, progeny. Often I have visualised the still centre inside myself as calm, tranquil, strong. Imagined it as a vast lake on a day when the wind is not low enough to jiggle the surface - still, deep, without a ripple. Seamless. But I wonder if my still centre is not better described as a burgeoning place where an infinity of action, propogation, cycles and strength exalt in life together. Maybe my still centre is more a seed centre - fertile, vibrating, generative.

At close of needle yesterday I was about halfway through joining the backing cloth to the main cloth. I am using about one centimetre invisible basting. I feel I need to do this for the layers to adhere well and so I can see more clearly what to do next regarding final embellishment. Some time was taken up with some adjustments I realised I wanted to make to the main storycloth before adding the backing.

I anticipate that the whole storycloth of 'How Raven Wrecked A Wedding' will be posted next week.

Happy weekend stitching, Gilly


  1. those patterns are just amazing, can't wait to see your cloth.

  2. Oh, yes, I have a few bits of driftwood with similar trails and I have just been gifted a shell covered in them too. Nothing like a walk in the woods or along a beach to inspire one. And I agree, it's hard to be selective with a digital camera in hand!

  3. growing up in the woods of Michigan, at the
    side of a creek, i spent many hours "reading"
    these marks. would pull the loosened bark
    away and read what i was sure was a message
    left for me by my "real" family.
    when i split wood now for winter heat, i have
    the same feeling when i find this...that they
    are somehow just ahead somewhere.

  4. I always loved the scribbly gums in Canberra - same sort of thing, but interesting winding and trailing scribble marks left by the insects!

  5. jude - the final cloth well - it is a bit odd - the scribble patterns by bark beetles are way nicer. I have a loooong way to go with composition.

    Penny - I agree there is nothing like a nature walk. Nothing. Inspiration, rejuvenation, re-generation, healing of all sorts.

    Grace - this brought tears to my eyes.

    Elizabeth - scribbly gums, as I recall, stand tall with a statuesque presence.

  6. i rather like collecting rubbings from such finds...
    using whatever paper happens to be in the pocket
    and whatever mark=making substance is handy
    if i'm lucky there's a graphite stick in the pocket
    but mud or charcoal do just fine as well

  7. Ha ha India - funny you should say that because only yesterday, out hiking, I commented that I need a nose-bag - or a quiver - to carry and gather with. I outlined the shape of it with my hands. You have prompted me to action. Thanks. x