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Brown Earth, Silver Light, and Waiting for the Water

Yesterday, Wings and I had occasion to discuss this land’s ancient history as a major trade route, a hub on a network of roads stretching to the water’s edge in all directions. It’s one of the ways in which materials from coastal regions were made a part of the art and culture of this place millennia ago.

Another, of course, is rooted in what was here already: a topography carved out by eons of receding waters, leaving shell mounds and fossilized sea creatures in their wake.

On this very plot of land, in some areas, dig down more than a foot or two and you hit solid banks of river rock.

In other places on this same bit of earth, the water table remains high, a bit of good fortune for us in this drought — one that, as we also discussed yesterday, is driven not by aberrant or anomalous conditions, a one-off, but by a now-permanently altered climate. We have had no groundwater on our land for months, nothing on the surface at all; the pond remains perfectly dry, if a little harder now with the arrival of freezing temperatures. In most places in this larger area, the land now is virtually indistinguishable from what it looked like at the height of summer: Fields normally green and lush and fast-growing during the monsoon season have been pale brown for a full year now.

Fall is flying past at record speed, despite the daily rise in the mercury. Our usual markers of color and fire are largely absent this year, the drought sending the leaves spiraling to the ground before they have a chance to change their robes. The result is that we find ourselves looking forward already to winter, most of autumn passing us by and leaving us no choice but to pin our hopes and prayers to the prospect of snow.

The land needs water, and snow may be its only chance.

On this morning, dawning in shades of silver and gold, the air is not precisely clear — there is too much smoke haze in the air for that — but it is unutterably dry, no trace of humidity anywhere. The forecast, though, holds out hope of autumn storms within a matter of days: rain turned to snow turned back to rain again after the weekend is over. And so for the moment, we find ourselves at the water’s edge in another manner of speaking, awaiting the possibility of the rain.

I had already chosen today’s featured work at the outset of this week, but it turns out to be more apt than could know at that point. From its description in the relevant section of the Bracelets Gallery here on the site:

Water’s Edge Hook Bracelet

The seas stretch in all directions, the tides ebb and flow, and the world arises at the water’s edge. Wings honors world and waters alike in the forging of this hook bracelet, a vintage style finding resurgent expression. The narrow silver band is stamped down the center of its surface in a chased pattern that makes use of a single thunderhead symbol, each one paired to form the rain, the sacred space of the kiva steps, and sacred space of another sort, with spokes stretching to all directions. The inner band is stamped with another singular design, a crescent like the half-moon that regulates tidal patterns, that repeats along either inner edge. The band extends into a tab at either end, each of which is bent into a hook. The center of the band is formed by single square cabochon of beveled turquoise in a beautifully gentle blue-green seafoam shade, spiderwebbed with inky black matrix that resembles the reeds beneath the water’s surface. The cabochon is edged in twisted silver, and the backing extends on either side into a pair of hand-made loops through which the band’s ends hook in a loop-and-toggle closure. This bracelet is designed for smaller wrists. Band is 6″ long and 1/4″ across; cabochon is 1/4″ square (dimensions approximate). Side view shown below.

Sterling silver; blue-green turquoise
$1,025 + shipping, handling, and insurance

If there is talismanic power in invoking the elemental spirits, this work should meet with success — for us, and for the land itself. spirit knows we need it. In  the meantime, though, we know better than take anything for granted, and we travel fall’s inexorable path to winter mindful that our lives may already have changed in material ways, that there may be no respite or remission from the drought that haunts the land now.

In other years, this would have been a place of fire now, a landscape in all the colors of flame, ignited by the purity of the sharply angled light. This year, it is a place of brown earth, silver light, and waiting for the water . . . a place of hope, yes, and still of faith, but mostly now of prayer.

~ Aji









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