"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for..." -- Georgia O'Keeffe
I read this quote and I understood exactly what she meant. Afterwards, I walked outside and I swear I felt her spirit in the morning winds. I recall when I used to see pictures of Ms. O'Keefe all dressed in black and living the artist's life in New Mexico and I just knew that's what I wanted.
Well, I am an artist in New Mexico. I do wear black occasionally. Still, all things considered, I'm not sure it's exactly the life I envisioned. There are times, though, when it's awfully close.
I have spent much of the weekend picking mistletoe. This is not because of some early onset of holiday spirit. I am referring to Phoradendron juniperinum, Juniper Mistletoe. The junipers on our property are infected with this little parasite. Normally in a healthy environment this plant causes very little harm to its host.
"A study of mistletoe in junipers concluded that more juniper berries sprout in stands where mistletoe is present, as the mistletoe attracts berry-eating birds which also eat juniper berries. Such interactions lead to dramatic influences on diversity, as areas with greater mistletoe densities support higher diversities of animals. Thus, rather than being a pest, mistletoe can have a positive effect on biodiversity, providing high quality food and habitat for a broad range of animals in forests and woodlands worldwide." wikipedia.org
However, since we have been in a relentless drought, mistletoe can put an extra stress on already stressed trees. This is the local belief and it is further believed it will eventually kill the tree. After losing our big pinõn to the bark beetle, largely due to drought, I decided to try and help out the junipers. It may be an exercise in futility, because all around us are trees similarly infected, but I felt I needed to do something. But as I was removing one living organism from another, I asked, is this the right thing to do? This is a real example of a climate change dilemma in my own backyard. I feel the easy answers are gone. It is sad. Get this close to Nature and it becomes all too clear we are in this together. All is connected. Look closer and the labels host and parasite begin to blur. The ecosystem is changing and we have to ask ourselves, have we done too little, too late?
Pat Greenwell is an artist. A painter and sometimes poet, he has been searching the New Mexico desert for several years now, looking for lost possibilities and probable intentions.
"...mostly stream-of-consciousness stuff, you know...