Perennial Dancers

When my Spirit Procession had come and gone in 1996, two of the pieces that had sold came back to us. They seemed like some sort of a pledge to begin another parade. The first procession had followed the round of the seasons, and I put my shoulder to that wheel again.

Drawing and Journalizing about Bowdoinham made me realize how life in a small town is a spiral dance. There are changes from year to year –– old buildings gone, new faces in town –– but the basic tale of the seasons goes round and round. These figures try to capture the perennial spirits as they spin round us.

If the American Icons symbolize cultural evolution –– the linear progression of time in America –– these dancers are in circular time. The local rhythm beneath the melody.

The Cathance freezes in the winter and sea-run smelts swim upstream under the ice to spawn. When you are out on the ice skating and skiing you are always alert for flaws in the ice, sudden movements. Occasionally you see the flicker of a fish darting beneath you. There is a presence under the black ice, holding it up. The Smelt Dancer celebrates ice-making, and the sweet taste of fresh smelts.

We had an ice storm here in 1998 that broke the trees and put us in the dark for days. These figures commemorate The Big Icing.

I woke one morning to find the world covered with a soft coating of snow. As though a sleep-walking spirit had wandered through in the night spilling whiteness in the dark. The Snow Dancer drifts through our dreams.

As the tale is told, a young couple living up Molasses Creek had a miscarriage in the middle of a blizzard. Unable to get out, they put the fetus through a hole in the ice. But the beavers heard its little heartbeat, rescued it, and raised the child as Beaver Boy. Now, whenever we lose a mooring, or a boat goes adrift, or a dock collapses, we can blame Beaver Boy.

The Dancing Bear. When we were last in Montreal we revisited an Esquimo carving gallery where we'd bought a soapstone piece on our honeymoon. We were smitten by the stone bears, dancing in the moonlight. As we debated emptying our pockets in return for one, I suddenly realized: "Hey –– I could carve one of these." In the dead of winter the dreams of bears come out and dance under the moon.

Anima Mundi comes out to dance in the Spring in her garment of leaves.

Peggy had a tumor removed from around her esophagus in 2000. I groped for some magic in the woodpile and conjured this Heron Dancer. A creature to snatch away the frog in your throat. The surgeon who did the deed was named Dr. Tryzelaar. Great name for a mythical creature.

The Great Blue Herons return to The Sagadahoc for Easter. Symbols of rebirth.

The Evil Throat-frog

This is great Snapper Country. The river is full of big turtles, bearing the world on their backs. The females clamber up onto the dry ground to lay their eggs on the Summer Solstice, and the world begins anew. Here is a Turtle Island Dancer.

This Eagle Dancer was in the Spirit Procession, and stayed around to dance. We are blessed with eagles year-round here. At high summer I watched one soar to the zenith, then disappear into the sun. This piece was the result.

The Atlantic Sturgeon are coming back in the Bay, and we see them popping up like Polaris around us. Here's the Sturgeon Dancer doing a leap.

There are times in High Summer when you can stand at the landing in a cloud of Swooping Swallows. This Swallow Dancer is a reminder of those times.

This Greenman with a oaken staff is an emblem of the Autumn Woods. He's that wispering spirit at the edge of your mind, flitting between the trees. The essence of The Wild.

At the Autumnal Equinox the new yields to the old. Here the Maiden and the Crone spin with the sun. A Dance of the Seasons.

The quick red fox brings home dinner.

Step and Copy

As the year goes round, perennial images of this place find their way into Seven Eagles to be turned into wood. Little wheel spin and spin.