SprungSprung, photo &  all text, © Irene O’Garden, 2014

To listen to this post, please click hereSprung: A Writer Wednesday Post

Though momentarily concealed, the sun was out long enough this week to bless the dining-room bouquet, soften the earth in the garden and distribute a general feeling of relief here in the Hudson Valley.

Help arrived yesterday and busted up the last crusty, recalcitrant, gravel-studded humps of snow; scraped away the tattered mats of autumn leaves, and leveled all the yellow silhouettes of “winter interest”—those grasses, rosehips, dessicated flowerheads we leave in the bleakened landscape to lift our hearts.

Snowdrops, crocuses, green poking spears –all the lovely little Spring clichés bring comfort, for I’m wrestling with the angel of an old writing project.  Caught myself thinking that finishing it will be quite an accomplishment.

But that approach can be a winter of its own. Does Nature “accomplish” Spring?  Is it a list of tasks she checks off one by one? When she’s finished, does she collapse in a cloud and say “Glad that’s done!”

Those poking crocuses remind us creative projects are not sets of tasks, either, but living things, with their own seasons, growing out of ourselves into themselves and at last, springing free of us.


What’s springing up in you these days?

Wanted to let you know about a delightful project our local newspaper, Philipstown.info is doing. Perhaps your community might enjoy creating this as well–I was asked to record one of my poems–it will air later this month

One Poem a Day Won’t Kill You” celebrates April as National Poetry Month by inviting community members to read a favorite poem, original or borrowed.  The project drew such an enthusiastic response that April may be a bit longer than usual this year.  Tune in each day for a new addition to a delightfully inspiring anthology of poems and voices.




CreatingLively Hand, photo and all text ⓒ Irene O’Garden 2013

To listen to this post, please click here:That Lively Hand 

When asked to conduct a River Of Words forest workshop for eight children aged 3-6 years (not my usual crowd) I called an expert—my sister Robin, a retired Waldorf  kindergarten teacher. What activity could focus such a wide range of attention spans?

She suggested modeling with air-drying clay. I liked it— minimal prep, no measuring, cutting, or gluing, easy clean-up and appropriately earthy.

So yesterday, after I rang my centering bell and read my new children’s book, Forest What Would You Like, my charges and I took a nature walk. In addition to thrilling fauna–“A Wood Louse! I love these!” cried one girl–pebbles, bark, pine cones, clover blossoms and other treasures were squealed over, popped into paper cups and reverently born back to the picnic table, to be embossed or embedded in clay.

It’s great to be around raw creation. Children create as happily and naturally as spiders spin webs and when they don’t like a creation, they just squash it and start again. No emotional tug-of-war, no judgement. Just trust in an infinite supply of clay.

Did it matter that before the day was out, the clover would droop on the little clay mountaintop, the tiny wild strawberry drop from the unicorn’s eye?

No. By then they’ll all be making something out of something else.

Time is the clay in which our creations dry. What never droops or ages, dies or dries is that lively hand within us.


Incidentally, for a rewarding look at pure and beautiful creativity practiced by five-year-old Helen (one of yesterday’s creators) you may enjoy visiting her blog (!) helensfairyhouses.com. Her mother told me about it, and I found it most inspiring.


Sour Notes : A Writer Wednesday Post

June 26th, 2013 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (6 Comments)

Simple sour sink

 SourSink, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden 2013

To listen to this post, please click here:Sour Notes

Cleaning out my art utility room and moving things upstairs to my new studio, I took a picture of what is essentially the last remnant of the former disheveled sorrow of this metamorph-house we’ve been transforming for 17 years. During that time we’ve had to tolerate some sad, ill-functioning spaces. This was one.

I thought of those who are drawn to play musical instruments, who love music so much they want to create it. But in learning to do so, sour notes abound. Playing poorly and hearing others do so is frustrating, and especially assaultive to musical sensitives, but it is sine qua non to playing well, and playing together.

Creators who persist develop a high pain-threshold and keep practicing, for they perceive a future in which their creations satisfy them. It’s what we saw in this house, and how we forgave ourselves  when, for example, our color sense failed a room and it had to be repainted.

What hope this holds for all of us who play the tricky magnificent instrument of human existence in all her octaves—physical, emotional, psychic, intellectual, spiritual! As we learn to create our lives, we all hit sour notes. But the orchestra is improving.


Sweet sink

The new SweetSink upstairs, with space to clean calligraphy nibs.





Admit you perceive

This phrase came to me last week. It’s the first piece I have done with pen, brush and ink (instead of  markers) in a long time, but since my nibs were clean…




Using up Paper & Ink #1

Using up the rest of the ink –“Using Up Ink and Paper, # 1.”


What’s your sweet and sour this week?

To listen to this post, please click here:  A Page From My Book

As I by stages move my studio to the renovated third floor, I have been reviewing several decades of my artwork, calligraphy, writing, photographs and so on, choosing what stays and what goes. Consequently, creativity has been much on my mind. I found a notebook with a page or two of spontaneous reflections about creativity. Here are a few for you, my fellow “hounds,” just as they came out of my head on to the page–


Creativity Hound, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden 2013




Talent/Creativity, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden 2013






Talent/Muscle, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden 2013





The Putting Together, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden





Creativity/Community, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden 2013




A reminder for you:



Need Yours, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden 2013




And a reminder for me:


Love Your Memories, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden 2013



What are you creating these days?



Forest Mandala & all text ©Irene O’Garden 2013

Starting next week, I will be making my annual three-week writing retreat. I am not sure what shape, if any, my blog will take during these inward turning days, for I never know quite what I will be called upon to make. (This Forest Mandala comes from last year’s retreat.)  Meantime, here’s a reminder from my Muse to Yours. Make yourself  a wonderful New Year.




If it matters to you


It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make money.

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t matter if  it doesn’t make headlines.

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make friends.

It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make things easier.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what it is.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know where it’s going.

But it does matter.


It doesn’t matter if it seems obvious.

It doesn’t matter if it seems silly.

It doesn’t matter how it seems.

You do not matter how you seem.

You matter how you are.


It doesn’t matter if it comes easily.

It doesn’t matter if you struggle with it.


It matters if you don’t make it.

It matters if you don’t make it matter.

It matters if it bothers you.

It matters if it makes you laugh.

It matters if it makes sense.

It matters if it bleeds.

It matters if it makes you cry.

It matters.


You matter.

You make it matter.

You make it.

You make.




Terra Celestials photo and all text c Irene O'Garden 2012

I took this photo last year outside my husband’s office window.

Many thanks to all my readers for their warm response to last week’s post and Lauren’s plea for art. You have made a real difference in her life, as she has made a difference in ours. And now, a post as small as its subject:


“Every moment is important. Be aware every moment. Waste no time.”

An attitude I respect, but doesn’t Nature waste? Look at all those tadpoles!

Actually, Nature wastes only if we look with a narrow sense of destination.  All those little tadpoles don’t grow to be frogs. This may seem a waste of life, or at least froggishness, and therefore unimportant. But as a blackbird’s lunch, a raccoon’s dinner? Important from the standpoint of the hungry parties.

Tadpoles don’t become some inert useless thing. Waste may just be an exclusively human concept and, like all human concepts, limited. Nature’s waste is creative. And Nature’s creativity is never wasted.

Creativity is Nature’s nature, hence ours. No reason not to create because we fear it will be wasted. That’s asking every tadpole to turn frog. You never know who or what depends on your creations. Let your little tadpoles swim.


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