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Red Willow Spirit: A Green World Ascatter With Sherds of Golden Light

We had to run errands all across town yesterday, and what struck me most was the amount of gold in our broader world now: gold on the earth, gold in the light.

It’s nowhere near what shows in the image above, of course — not yet. There is still more green than gold, and will be for a few weeks yet. But at the current pace of change, the view above is on track to occur perhaps as much as a month earlier than when that shot was taken.

And that, too, was taken on a day when we were running errands. It’s a view from the highway headed into town, more or less directly across from our post office. [In our case, our post office serves an entirely different postal jurisdiction from the one in which we actually live, some four miles away or so; such is the nature of reservation resource locations and allocations.] These, too, are Indigenous lands, some parcels currently held, some checkerboarded out to colonial “ownership.” But the land itself knows, perhaps less who it belongs to than who belongs to it, and it serves as guidepost and lodestar for time and place, space and season.

This particular stand, the one in the background, is still largely untouched. It comprises cottonwoods as the greatest part of its mass, edged in places by smaller stands of aspen. Both sets of trees are bellwethers for fall, and both behave, their way, like large autumnal sunflowers, the green that captures the gold of the light.

On a day such as yesterday, one of the perfect clear purity of the first days of fall, their gold assumes an ethereal quality, one that catches and holds, reflects and refracts, shimmers and glows like the most costly of precious metals. Today is a little less clear, a little less bright; there is haze from the wildfire to the south clouding the air, and the rains to the north began clouding the skies at dawn. By afternoon, the light will more closely resemble that in the photograph, subdued, perhaps muted, but in now way dimming the nascent golden glow near the treetops.

It reminds me, in fact, of the changes in appearance of precious metals and precious stones when viewed in natural light versus artificial light. And the first work in today’s featured informal collection in miniature provides images of both — the first shot taken in natural light, capturing every striation, every inclusion, with a glow that is utterly matter-of-fact, the second, taken in indoor lighting, masking the details but bolstering the intensity of the glow and the colors. And in either context, it captures perfectly this threshold season, a green world ascatter with sherds of golden light. From its description in the relevant section of the Necklaces Gallery here on the site:

Sherds of Sunlight Necklace

At the threshold between the rainy season and the full clarity of autumn, the world is lit by sherds of sunlight. With this necklace, Wings captures their fragments and places them in the glowing embrace of the landscape’s green and gold. The entire strand is strung on sterling silver bead chain and held by sterling silver findings. At the center, seven large rough-polished and highly-textured citrine nuggets from the necklace’s focal point, each freeform sherd interspersed with paired orbs of shimmering green garnet flanking gold-lip mother-of-pearl shell at the center, bright jade with mother-of-pearl beyond it. The jade flows into small round orbs of deep green malachite flanked by faceted citrine barrel beads, which in turn give way to segments of banded malachite cube beads alternating with faceted citrine. Necklace hangs 18″ long, excluding findings (dimensions approximate). Designed jointly by Wings and Aji. Part of The Beaded Hoop Collection. Coordinates with Closer to the Sun earrings. Long view shown below.

Sterling silver; citrine; green garnet; gold-lip mother-of-pearl shell; jade; malachite
$375 + shipping, handling, and insurance

I should point out here, as an aside, that the first word of the work’s name sounds like “shards,” the proper pronunciation for the word’s correct spelling (which is to say, with an “e”). And the citrine nuggets are sherds indeed — long and slender, with sharply tapered ends and rich nuggety surfaces. By themselves, they refract and reflect the light in spectacular ways; combined with the the other golds and greens in the strand, and it truly does feel as though the piece has caught the autumn sun itself and has been granted the power of holding it.

The second work in today’s featured pair was photographed only in interior lighting, and so the photo more closely resembles the second view of the necklace: brilliant, intense coloration, a glow the suffuses the whole sufficiently to minimize the individual inclusions and whorls and bands of each bead. From its description in the relevant section of the Earrings Gallery:

Closer to the Sun Earrings

Summer brings us closer to the sun. Wings honors the Earth’s annual migration with these gemstone bead earrings, small vibrant worlds orbiting a golden center stone spreading warmth and light. Each set of beads is strung on sterling silver wire, top and bottom mirrored solar systems around a large freeform bead of polished citrine. Extending outward at either side, the colors change from a golden glow to verdant greens, with perfectly round beads that move from golden mother-of-pearl shell to the swirling golden hues of green garnet, thence to leafy jade and at last to the summer-grass shade of malachite. Each dangling drop is suspended from sterling silver wires via a delicate silver jump ring. Earrings hang 2.25″ long, excluding wires (dimensions approximate). Designed jointly by Wings and Aji. First in The Standing Stones Collection. Coordinates with Sherds of Sunlight necklace.

Sterling silver; malachite; jade; green garnet; gold mother-of-pearl shell; citrine
$155 + shipping, handling, and insurance

These were the very first earrings in The Standing Stones Collection, the first pair Wings was inspired to create in this particular style. That it occurred not many weeks before the summer solstice is the clue to their name, a time when we were, indeed, moving visibly closer to the sun by the day.

Now, we watch ourselves moving away from it in real time, and the name becomes not descriptor but promise, a reminder that the cold months, too, are temporary, and that soon enough the world will revolve into its sunward arc again.

For today, though, the dark may come well before the night. Tomorrow’s forecast of rain has been moved up to this afternoon and evening, those hours when the autumn sun is most sharply angled and most deeply golden. Our day’s end may instead look more like this second image, the same subject as in the shot above, taken from a greater distance and wider perspective.

On this day, both distance and perspective suggest that the clouds will come. Here, this is a good thing; in this land rain is never unwelcome, all the more so during a protracted drought. I have always been partial to autumn storms; it’s the weather into which I was born, and it possesses a powerful beauty that no ordinary weather can match.

Here, too, the storm is rarely opaque: It nearly always filters the light of the sun to a thirsty earth in wondrous, breathtakingly luminous ways. It’s part of the magic of place and season here.

And for a few days, perhaps even a few weeks yet, storm or no, we inhabit the warmth and beauty of a green world ascatter with sherds of golden light.

~ Aji








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