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Gifts, Reimagined

This is, bar none, our favorite season of the year.

Oh, it’s still a bit too hot for comfort through the middle of the day, but the dawns are clear and crisp and cold, and the nights are, too. It’s all blue skies and golden light, and today we are additionally blessed with air that is almost entirely clear, only the faintest hint of haze still hovering below the horizon to the south.

Now, as we approach the midpoint of the day, a few bands of puffy white clouds are beginning to gather on all sides. By next month, those will likely have vanished altogether, but for the days that remain in this one, there is still the faint chance of monsoonal weather: a little last rain to feed the trees now turning, and those that are aptly called “evergreen.”

Of course, the evergreens may be ever green, but the green is not a uniform shade throughout the year. Some turn blue in the warm season, as new needles  begin to grow; others deepen with the snows. We are fortunate still to have two juniper that have managed to survive the devastating havoc that drought and aridification have wrought upon the land — a near-matched pair of small but sturdy sentinels, standing watch side by side, their lacy boughs gently cradling the light of the rising harvest moon now.

Wings’s homelands are vastly different from my own, and yet the juniper is one relative our lands share in common. Where I come from, we tend to call it red cedar, but it’s all the same fragrant and powerful medicine. Having them here, still thriving, feels like a daily personal blessing from the spirits, one that doesn’t replace, but perhaps makes a bit more bearable, the grief over the losses both our lands are incurring now.

With September nearly gone and October, the heart and soul of autumn, just around the corner, we know that winter is not far off now. Indeed, at the moment, the forecast predicts a distinctly unseasonal rain for Monday, and possibly for Tuesday, too, with highs dropping another ten degrees along with it. Winter is a hard season here, no matter the form or shape it takes, and while it’s also the time of the midwinter holidays, with all the supposed “giving” that those entail, it’s easy to get distracted by the task of trudging through deep snow and deeper cold, resentful of the inconvenience.

In truth, the snow and ice are a blessing beyond description, medicine for nothing less than life itself. It is up to us to recognize and appreciate that, to adapt our thinking to honor them appropriately: gifts, reimagined, that are part of the world’s annual renewal and rebirth.

Today’s featured work embodies these gifts in jeweled and precious form, a tiny tree that thrives in winter, whose reach spans continents, whose every part — root, trunk, branch, bough, needle, berry, sap — is medicine. From its description in the Pins Gallery here on the site:

Icicled Juniper Tree Pin

An icicled juniper shines with tinsel made of snow and light. Wings honors the shades of winter green and the power of the light with this tiny tree, cut freehand of sterling silver with upturned boughs and and flared trunk. The small but steady rays of the winter sun garland its branches as the scattered blossoms of remnant berries, hand-stamped, peek through; a winter butterfly, a bit of holiday magic, floats past beneath the twinkling star at its top. The icy tinsel shimmers in a single oval Labradorite, while the jade and turquoise of the evergreen shows through above, all by way of small round bezel-set cabochons. Tree stands 1-1/2″ high by 1-3/8″ across at the widest point; cabochons are 1/8″ across (dimensions approximate).

Sterling silver; jade; blue turquoise; Labradorite
$325 + shipping, handling, and insurance

The original description of this pin specified moonstone for the third “ornament.” I had occasion to look more closely, and it is not in fact gray moonstone; it’s Labradorite (although in truth, the only way I could tell the difference was by the shape of the cab, since all of Wings’s moonstones are round and this appears to be the last of a small high-grade parcel of Labradorite ovals he acquired some years ago). It seems somehow more fitting — more like the ice of deep winter, collected on the boughs and hardened into shimmering silvery natural ornaments.  The turquoise is the pale blue of the cold-weather sky, and the jade at the top? It’s such a deep green as to appear nearly black in the photo; in natural light, it appears in the same deep-forest shade that now checkerboards the mountains’ highest slopes.

All of those are gifts, too, but it is the stampwork that completes this timely reminder of all the we are granted, even in the face of a world filled with destruction now. The garlands are radiant crescents, arc of sunrise and moonlight; the star at the top twinkles with the fire of its cosmic counterparts that bead the night skies now. The ornaments? Tiny floral patterns that here represent the clumps of juniper berries, dark and gloriously glossy. And at the very center? A single tiny butterfly flutters past, like the monarch that spiraled past the upstairs window yesterday, a reminder of the gifts that still remain, and a promise of the ones to come.

Gifts, reimagined, indeed.

~ Aji








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