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Summer’s Children, Still In First Flower

Fall came this morning with the dawn: only a visitor of a few hours’ duration for now, but for that time here in full, all the same. It was perceptible in the movement of the leaves on the trees, in the clear dry chill on the edge of the wind, in the pale pure blue of the eastern sky, studded only here and there with white clouds turned amber above the rays of a still-unrisen sun.

And yet, this is still summer, and still a season of firsts: the first wild flower of some of the spirits of still-warm winds, of the small wild sunflowers and tiny purple asters, of the chamisa near-ready to go gold and new bright yellow petals on the mullein.

All save the chamisa are blossoming with abandon now, growing thanks to the gift of the recent rains, dancing in their element — a sharper, clearer air and a new angle to the light.

It’s a perfect day, too, for one of Wings’s newest works, completed only days ago and manifest in the shades and spirits of the season. From its description in the Necklaces Gallery here on the site:

First Flower Necklace

A single sunlit dewdrop summons the new buds to open in first flower. In this wildflower season, Wings brings sun and dew to the newest petals in this necklace wrought in shades of rose and gold and sterling silver. It begins with the pendant, a stunning giant teardrop of mookaite, a perfect bud of dusty roses petals  edged in sunny gold, just ready to open for the first time. This extraordinary cabochon is set into a scalloped bezel trimmed with twisted silver, and topped by a tiny round bezel-set citrine cabochon, sun filtered through the dew at dawn. It all hangs from a hand-wrought bail of flared sterling silver, stamped front and back with a single hand-stamped flowering sunburst. The bail hangs over a pair of tiny round ocean jasper beads flanked by small faceted mookaite alternating with ridged barrel beads of bright golden citrine, interspersed throughout the length of the strand with large, silky doughnut rondel and barrel beads of mookaite in mulberry and rose and gold. Each end of the strand is anchored with four round ocean jasper beads flowing into sterling silver findings. Bead strand is 20″ long, excluding findings; pendant, including bail, is another 2.5″ long by 1-3/16″ across at the widest point; visible portion of mookaite cabochon is 3/4″ long; citrine cabochon is 3/16″ across; bail hangs 1/4″ long by 3/8″ across at the widest point (dimensions approximate). Close-up view of pendant shown below.

Sterling silver; mookaite; citrine; ocean jasper
$1,750 + shipping, handling, and insurance

This piece has been a long time in the making. I found the focal cabochon by way of an Australian lapidarist whose work he has begun using semi-regularly, and knew instantly that it was a stone for Wings’s work. I showed him to him, and he was taken with it on the spot: a perfect bud, ready to flower, just waiting for the final touch of rain and sun to open it.

Its identity was never in question, but it would take more than a year before its form would come clear. He knew, earlier this season, that he would turn it into a necklace, one with a simple, spare bezel that would show it off for the budding flower it so clearly is. But as is so often the case when he leaves materials on his workbench for a while as he works on other pieces, it had more to say. One day, he announced that it needed a small golden cab that would pick up the color of the “petal edges” down the stone’s center to adorn the top of it: a single radiant dewdrop, infused with the dawn light. He tasked me with finding one, and among his inventory of stones was a small round citrine cabochon perfectly proportioned to the dimensions of the larger stone.

Still, though, it was not quite time; that would wait until he could find the necessary beads for the strand that would hold the pendant. It needed to be a mix of mookaite and citrine, bold enough to support such a large pendant, yet not so big as to overwhelm it. At last, we found what was needed, and he set to work combining pendant and strand.

What resulted was a perfect piece for the waning days of summer and the early winds of fall. Autumn arrives early here, most years, and despite intermittent snows, stays for a while; and Indian summer here is not so much a single event as a periodic visitor, coming and going freely sometimes until the end of October. Meanwhile, the wildflowers bloom — many in first flower now, thriving in slightly cooler air and a more sharply angled light.

I noticed this morning that the mullein patch by the studio, “ears” still young and short, is nonetheless newly in flower, bright yellow petals ringing the base of the stalks. This is its first year of life, but its clan are spread out all across the land here, and some elders now stand nearly as tall as I. Like the wild sunflowers, their rebirth is a sign that the midpoint of the year is well past, that colder winds are on the way, and soon, and yet, I cannot bring myself to feel melancholy. Autumn here is the most beautiful (and comfortable) of seasons, one in which our whole small world comes alive with its fiery clear magic. We live by the seasons here more than by the calendar, and it is the fruits and flowers of each that tells us what’s to come.

For now, though, the fall of the dawn has departed; the winds are warm, the clouds beginning to rise over the peaks. The grass waves tall and green in the breeze, and bright petals dot the land like little lights. These are summer’s children, still in first flower, and they are the medicine we need now.

~ Aji








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