Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sparkleberry, May Day and A Journey of Discovery

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This page has been a long time in the making! Truly a perfect example that you don't have to finish a journal page in one sitting.

I started this page on May 1st and while I put the finishing touches on it a couple of days ago, my journey of discovery is still going strong.

On April 30th, I caught a quick glimpse of flowering trees tucked in along the tree line on the cart path of our neighborhood's golf course. It was almost dark and I decided it'd be best to make a clear ID the next day, which happened to be May Day!

Perfect for celebrating, the day was adorned with a Carolina blue sky, plenty of sunshine and the heat and humidity were trying to creep in but a soft breeze kept it comfortable, especially in the shade. The challenge was to time our trek to the fourth hole so we didn't interfere with golfers... Finally, in the early afternoon there was a lull in play. I had my camera and sketching supplies ready to go and couldn't get there fast enough!

We arrived to find a mass of Sparkleberry trees
glowing in filtered sunlight that streamed through the
upper canopy trees. It was glorious!  I'd never seen so many Sparkleberry trees grouped together. Some were shrub like, others dainty trees.

I didn't want to leave, but since the golf course was still being used, we had to move on. I knew of another Sparkleberry tree that I could sketch and off we went.

Here is the plein air sketch.

Spring is such a happy time, trees bud, flowers bloom and everyone/thing feels so alive. A line from Camelot kept running through my mind... 'The lusty month of May.'

I wanted to celebrate May Day and the Sparkleberry Tree together. Something was driving me to take my time in planning how I wanted to finish this spread.

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A tissue paper overlay is a great way to experiment with the placement of other elements you may want to add to your page. It keeps the paper from being compromised from too much erasing.
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I started research on May Day and here's where my journey of discovery began.

The traditions of dancing around the Maypole and the making of May Baskets are familiar to me, but when digging deeper in my research, I found out that May Day is a Cross-Quarter Day.

Cross-Quarter Day?

Ancient mankind was very attuned to solar, earth and lunar cycles. The Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes and Summer and Winter Solstices were major days for marking of length of daylight versus darkness, distance between the earth and sun and for celebrations to honor the four seasons.

Then, after a time, days that fell halfway between Equinoxes and Solstices were used to mark additional seasonal/agricultural changes. Enter... Cross-Quarter Days! Many religious holidays can trace their roots to these early agricultural origins! In fact, today, our yearly calendar notes three out of the four Cross-'Quarter' Days.  Are you ready? I've noted ancient names in parentheses.

Ground Hog Day (Candlemas/Imbolic), May Day (Beltane) and Halloween (Samhain/All Saints Day)! The only C-QD that, for the most part, gets ignored by modern man is August 1st (Lammas/Lughnasa). There are some regions that celebrate this time of harvest but mostly we, in the 21st century, haven't a clue it exists.

I also want to note that February 2nd, May 1st, August 1st and October 31st are rather generic versions of the exact timing of a Cross-Quarter Day. Some of the information I pulled up on the internet got quite involved. One source spoke of C-Q days as 'movable feasts,' another referred to them as a 'window of time' and yet another related these special days to the phases of the moon. I can go on and on but I really must finish this post!

Somewhere in my research I learned that May Day was associated with honoring trees. This made me smile as I wanted to celebrate the Sparkleberry!

Wow, all this information and I have a journal spread that measures 7.5 x 11 inches! I really needed time to think this all through.  Then, that evening, it was announced that Osama bin Ladin was dead. Mercy, that horrible feeling from 9-11 came rolling through me. I saw Americans celebrating his demise while I could feel only sorrow for our fallen and our country. Too little, too late, now what lies ahead?  A few days later I heard that both Hitler and bin Ladin share May Day as the time their deaths were announced to the world. Too weird for me.

On a happier note, in July, a poem by E. E. Cummings that perfectly describes my feelings as I sketched the Sparkleberry, found it's way to me by chance. Ah, all my journal page pieces are in place... I can finish my page.

Patience. A wonderful thing!