I find winter to be the hardest creative season. The world is colorless and my energy depleted. There is no mad flush of spring, no incessant heat of summer, no urgency of autumn. Time feels monotonous, endless. Until it does end and I’m left feeling as though I’ve squandered it all.
This past week I’ve been in search of new inspiration. Finding beauty in the mundane. Taking time to look to the overlooked. I’ve learned that this time of year I have to seek out inspiration, that it won’t find me. It sometimes it takes a bit more effort. But the results are worth it.
I spend my afternoons taking walks around the farm and photographing the dried herbs and flowers. I usually don’t pay them any mind until it’s warm and they’re in bloom, but I was surprised at just how beautiful they become when stripped bare of all but their stalks and seed pods. The hollyhocks and sunflowers become a sculpture garden. The empty milkweed pods are a dull gray from the outside, but their insides are lined with gold. Even the oregano, now dried and gone, leaves a delicate silhouette behind.
As I take the time to take it all in, I watch as the cardinals and sparrows pluck the remaining seeds from deep within their middles. I never realized how important they were as a source for winter food.
Food for birds, and food for my creative soul.
I watch as the landscape slowly evolves around me. Winter doesn’t stand as still as I’d thought. Even the air moves about in massive flakes. Maybe I’m the only one still standing.
I gather my things and go back inside and my breath becomes invisible again. I leave the birds to their seeds and the stalks to their silhouettes. I leave no trace, except for a smattering of snowy footprints and the tracings of the lines that will soon become something new: a cutting of copper, or a bite into a smooth zinc surface. I don’t yet know, and I’ve made peace with that. Now is not a time for knowing. Now is the time to be the eyes and ears of the world, to keep writing words and creating images and telling stories. Maybe they become something greater, maybe they never will. Not everything is destined to be Art.