In 2015 I became a mother.
This is Orion Augustus. He’s been out in the world with me for 14 weeks now. I am filled with awe, impatience, and nostalgia at every moment. He already moves his hands with purpose, laughs when I kiss his belly, and opens his eyes wide in front of books.
The past year seems now like it was all devoted to bringing him into the world, but so much else happened.
I finished reading and writing my doctorate qualifying exams: on landscape studies, and on craft and work.
I was on the teaching team that developed a new Harvard course on Boston’s history and culture. I lectured on my own work on Haymarket, psychogeography, and oral history (read it here: I live in three different Bostons). I also oversaw a group of undergraduate research projects, some of the most fulfilling work I have done as a graduate student.
I began a series of interviews with artists about their relationship to place and work. The first two, with potter Judy Motzkin and weaver Adele Stafford, are excerpted online under the title “A Kind of Silence.” The next two, for the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard, will be available in the new year. They were all wonderful conversations with deep thinkers about time, process, meaning, and land – and I look forward to sharing them with you.
Adele Stafford at work at her home studio loom.
materials in the home studio of Judith Motzkin
a boat under construction by Mare Liberum, at the Carpenter Center
I joined forces with a new friend and collaborator, Nicole Lattuca, to design, teach, and curate a summer-long creative research workshop for Cambridge teens, Our Riverside. Our young researchers made such lovely work, all about the neighborhood I live in. It was so rewarding to do such a local project with people who know the place where I live even better than I do.
Me and Nicole at the opening of the exhibition, “Between the Boundaries,” where we showed student work, process materials, and a selection from the archives of the Cambridge Community Center, which hosted the program.
This summer was also the beginning of what I hope will be an ongoing practice – I hosted a retreat at my home, with a small community of women who do place-based creative work. They are journalists, artists, educators, activists and urban planners. It was a beautiful weekend and I was so grateful to make this new work with them.
A selection of wild things we gathered during our silent walk along the Charles River.
Our retreat altar. Photo by Meral Agish.
During the year I continued to develop seasonal ceremonies and rituals here in Cambridge. I lit candles in December to remind myself of the last days of growing darkness, and I hid plastic eggs filled with spring poems for neighbors to find on Easter morning. All of these projects are accompanied by texts, usually poems. I shared my altar-making practice in a little essay at t.e.l.l. New England, too.The first candle, December 1.
I continue to photograph and bury dead animals, and marvel at the wildness that surrounds my urban life. I look forward to seeing how raising my son changes this perspective, as it has for many city walkers. Someday I’ll finish the essay I’m writing about wildness, based on some of the books I read over the summer – H is for Hawk, the Buried Giant, Feral, and the Wolf Border – which all contain their own ruminations on birth, parenthood, death, and the hidden things that stalk the landscape, and our minds.
What do I document? How should I remember? How can I stop time and also savor its motion? When do I mourn, and when celebrate?
The old year ends, a new one begins. Join me.