Tuesday, September 16, 2014


First ring of interwoven medium-sized sticks forms the base of the hut.

Dearest Readers,
I’ve begun to build a stick hut in the field that I call The Thinking Place. I’m winging it now, but so far the construction is giving me great aesthetic pleasure. I scrapped the idea of digging a deep hole in the center, and that decision is a relief.  A chair will sit in the center where the hole would have been. In the slow five-week process of removing, sorting and categorizing each branch from the original messy pile-up, I was dreading the day when I would presumably need to start digging the hole. This realization was not apparent to me at first, only a nagging unhappiness slowed down my progress.

So, with that load off my mind and back, I look forward daily to what will be created.
Here’s the latest sequential photo gallery.

Etta discovers the woodchuck hole beneath the last layer of small sticks

I rake away the final layer of sticks

Etta dives into the woodchuck hole-nobody home

Cleared base for the hut. Piles of sorted sticks in the background.

Measuring the hut's base circumference and positioning stone markers

Ready to build The Thinking Place

Sunday, September 7, 2014


The Burn Pile_9.75x7_Ink_charcoal_oil stick_pastel on paper
Dearest Readers,
I’m slowly dismantling the heap of sticks in the north side field  near my Vermont home in order to dig a deep hole beneath the pile, and then rebuild it as a beautiful, hollow stick hut for thinking and abiding. It's slow going.  

Day 1

 I began by spray painting the perimeter of the pile as a baseline for the future structure. 
Removing a delicate light gray branch
 I tried to remove each branch carefully, spending time to discern the next one on top. It’s a puzzle of tugging one after another until the right one slides out, being careful not to snap the delicate tips. (not always successful.)   Some are lightweight,

Others heavy.

Struggling with a heavy brute of a branch

  I’m sorting them by color, size and delicate branch tracery. 
 thin, light-colored branches

a dark pile with delicate tops

thicker, truncated branches that will serve as sticks for the base

 a pile of medium sticks

and a tangle of small twig debris that may come in handy.

I also picked out two straight birch saplings about 20 feel long, that will serve as poles for a ladder coming out of the hole and through the top of the hut. 
Future poles for birch ladder (center with leaves)


 I’m almost at earth level now. 
The land below the pile reveals a surprising maze of woodchuck holes and kicked up sandy soil. This must have been home-sweet-home last winter for a big family of these groundhogs who have since left for greener pastures.
Closeup of two of several woodchuck holes under a layer of twigs
 Why am I doing this? …because I find satisfaction in digging the earth, and exploiting the metaphor of delving into the self. The underground in myth and tradition is a place of death, and transformation. The hero who attempts the journey of self-discovery hopes to return with the secrets of life and transcendence for his or her people. It is risky business. Returning to society is key. Some stick studies are below. More digging and delving to come....

Floating Birch Branch_18x24_charcoal on paper_9.1.2014
Stick and Heart_18x24_ink and acrylic on paper_9.4.2014