BY SIRI BARDARSON
July 11, 2014
Have you noticed the ox-eye daisy? Its blank stare skyward, zoned out like a cat in a sunbeam; it is the harbinger of summer.
Only a few days ago, the fields were blanketed in a patchwork of green grasses: citron, neon green, blue-green with a touch of rust red on the grass heads, mossy and silvery green—each shade polarized by gray skies and soft rain.
It happened like this. Mother Nature glanced at her calendar, not at all surprised that the Solstice had arrived. It was the middle of the night and she was star-gazing, (maybe that’s where she got the idea, that smattering of diamonds on blue velvet). She laughed a hearty laugh with her mouth wide open and her teeth showing and then she announced, “Summer.” In an instant, the fields turned yellow and the daises followed as though the Boss Lady had emptied the cosmic hole-punch out over the scene.
Voila! Daisies in the ditches!
There is a pullout off the highway across from Greenbank Farm. Recently, I stopped there to sketch the daisies and someone pulled in behind me. A woman announced she was going to pick some daisies; I said I was going to draw them. We chatted, we had both just driven down the highway from Oak Harbor and I remarked that the daisies didn’t grow everywhere. In fact, from where we stood on the little blacktop driveway, to one side a field of daisies grew as far as the eye could see and in the other direction, it was only a sea of yellow grass and not a daisy to be seen.
Some things are some places and not others, like creative ideas.
For a dozen years, I have commuted between the south end of Whidbey and Oak Harbor and I can tell you exactly where my ideas are. After 30 minutes of driving, my brain moves into its right side and I begin to think imagistically. Driving north, it happens at Au Sable prairie at the OLF field and driving south, it happens at Greenbank Farm. At these points in my drive, I enter my dream space as predictably as Solstice showing up for duty. Without having to work at it, everyday things take on new meaning: the plowed field is a rich brown the color of coffee grounds, the daisies are small children with blonde hair or twinkling stars. If I am smart I have brought something to write with because the ideas are coming non-stop—a sketch, a lyric or a sentence. I swerve as I reach into my book bag!
Betty Edwards, author of “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” identified the phenomenon for me when I re-read her seminal book a few years ago. There are certain kinds of tasks that she calls global tasks. If you engage in these for a period of time, the brain activity shifts from the linear left side to its non-verbal right side.
My favorite global activities are driving and sweeping. It was heartening to discover that I am not plain weird!
I never knew why I loved my commute or sweeping and here is how it all synched up. At the end of the school day, I started sweeping. This took a good thirty minutes and, as there were major janitorial budget cuts, I wasn’t squandering taxpayer dollars. I would end up feeling great about the school day and anxious to get home. I would load up and start driving, the outside world—the day’s trouble spots—infringing a little on my right-sided forays, but by the time I reached Greenbank Farm, I had the lyrics to a new song or a sentence that was so perfect I was in love with everything.
Then I would walk into my house and sweep some more.
Ah, to be in love with everything!
I will point out that there are other variables in this equation, like being alone. Yes, solitude is a big part of the endeavor and so I want to qualify the idea of being in love with everything when I am alone. This is easy love: idea love, soul love, flying love, grounded love, my head attached to my heart love and simple love enthusiasm. Like the daisies in the ditches it is part of a good season, fertile ground and the fuel to keep on keepin’ on.
Mother Nature just winked at me and handed me a push broom.
Siri Bardarson is a musician who writes and sketches a lot. She is ecstatically happy when she makes stuff!
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