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Dancing Defiantly In the Lowering Light

Four days into the new month, and the clouds cannot make up their collective mind as to what to do or where they are supposed to be.

Our forecast predicted less of a chance of rain than on most recent days, and yet twice we fund ourselves at work beneath a few scattered tiny drops here and there — not enough to do more than evaporate on contact, but still a reminder of what our small world here so desperately needs, all the same.

It won’t do much for the trees, fast yellowing now. It’s not the gradual rainbow turn of fall, this: No, this is what happens when drought sucks all the life from the green, leaving it not merely withered but utterly desiccated, no chance of the gold turning red or copper, only gray before it crumbles to dust on the winter wind.

The fall wildflowers are another matter.

Their roots are shallower than the trees and shrubs; more of their life is lived above the surface, and so even a few random drops can make a difference in their survival. I noticed just this afternoon, in a spot typically given over only to grass and the occasional wind-drifted spot of clover, a small, low stand of purple asters branching out. These were not as sturdy as their counterparts elsewhere on the land, scattered instead of standing tall and tightly packed, their color pale lilac instead of the richer thistly shades of purple. But they are there, alive and seemingly well, and these days, perhaps that is more than enough to hope for.

One stand of purple phlox survived last week’s bitter storms, and one small clump of golden Mexican hat, too. The chamisa, meanwhile, is coming fully into its own; smatterings of yellow now becoming a lush gold. And if the cowpen daisies and yellow thistle are beginning to wilt, well, the wild sunflowers are still hardy and persistent, dancing defiantly in the lowering light.

Today’s featured work seems to me to capture their spirit of resistance, of insistence on communing with whatever light or water chooses to come. It’s a ring wrought in two wholly distinctive styles: a finger cuff, self-adjusting courtesy of a band that does not meet beneath the finger; and anticlastic, its gracefully upward-sloping edges catching all the colors of the light. It’s hand-milled in the same looping floral pattern found in some of the other works featured here this week, and while those pieces tend to showcase the pattern’s Flower Power-like boldness, today’s work manifests in its more elegant side, a mix of Art Nouveau and Art Deco that resembles peacock fans and the radiant geometry of the Roaring Twenties. From its description in the Rings Gallery here on the site:

A Flowering Light Finger Cuff

In summer, the whole world blooms beneath a flowering light. Wings summons silvered blossoms into being year-round with this finger cuff, a self-adjusting ring that rests gently on the finger even as it reaches upward to touch the light. Anticlastic shaping provides graceful curves at either edge and an underside as smooth as silk. Before shaping, the hand-cut band was milled in a contemporary floral pattern, large slender petals like peacock feathers spread across its surface in a random array, rising gently to provide a textured surface. The band tapers elegantly at either end for a comfortable fit. Cuff is 11/16″ across at the widest point, and 7/16″ across at its narrowest on the ends (dimensions approximate). Other views shown above and below.

Sterling silver
$375 + shipping, handling, and insurance

Finger cuffs are an extraordinary solution for folks with hard-to-fit fingers: unusually large, unusually small, with enlarged knuckles, or irregularly-sized. They are easily self-adjusted by the wearer, and can thus be moved between fingers on a whim, and the more usual size restrictions are not an issue.

They are also comfortable. I have one that I wear on my larger fingers or my thumbs, depending on mood and preference on any given day, and I never have to worry about it falling off or getting stuck. The anticlastic versions like this one (and like my own) are also doubly comfortable, given that the edges of the ring arc away from the finger, so that there are no rigid edges to cut into the skin or contribute to swelling.

And, of course, from the top side of the band, who can tell?

It looks like any ring, save of course for the unusual shaping and distinctive millwork that throws the giant wildflower petals into sharp and graceful relief and refracts light and color, shape and shadow.

Now, as fall settles in for the duration and summer makes ready to bid our world farewell for another year, wildflowers such as those memorialized in this gentle silver arc add shade and shimmer to our world. They also remind us of the urgency of resistance, or the necessity of persistence, of the need to use every ray of sun and every drop of rain to our world’s best advantage.

After all, winter will be here very soon now. For these days of late summer weather, we should join the bright petals at their celebration in these warmer winds, dancing defiantly in the lowering light.

~ Aji








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