Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Figure, Ground

The last time I posted here it was summer and things were muscular and bright in the garden. Now it's full on winter and the garden is full of dried stalks and wilted stems. The lake freezes and thaws. In terms of Land Scouting, it can be harder to get outside; the days are shorter and you've got to dress for the weather to be comfortable for longer than a short walk. While it can be uncomfortable to be cold, I think we tend to speak ill of winter too often. We focus on the lack of light, warmth, and movement, rather than reveling in what the dark, cold, and stillness do.

What they do is create negative space in the cycle of the seasons. Biologically many plants in our area need a period of winter to go into dormancy or to germinate seeds for the spring.  In design class we talk about negative space and how a "positive" figure is set off by a "negative" ground. You can think of negative space as the area around something or that which is not filled. Often successful design work had negative space that does as much as, if not more than, the positive figures like text or images. One of my teaching mentors talked about the importance of negative space in one's life: time unscheduled and unscripted. Too much of one and not the other creates a loud imbalance. This time resets the world, physically and mentally, and grounds the coming buds and blossoms. We need the rest and stillness of winter to appreciate the abundance and movement of summer.

So rather than curse the cold, short, dark days (or maybe you don't do this...) let's sit comfortably and patiently in winter, cultivating hygge as needed, as our half of the planet tilts back toward the sun.

1 comment:

  1. Huzzah, Katie Ries! Such a good reminder and acknowledgment that all is not well when we just go, go, go and always want to be rushing out of wherever we are; in this case, winter.