I recently discovered the word “tremolo.” While I’m not an avid winter sports enthusiast, I’ve been outside daily in the snow these last couple months. In fact, I used to believe that if God had intended us to be out in single digit temperatures, we would be born with fur coats. I grew up in a town, formerly known as, “The Motor City.” I always thought you didn’t spend time out in the cold unless you were required to by your employer, or as a quick transition to your vehicle.
Anyway, having an elderly dog has challenged me to discover a new paradigm. I’ve now learned how to dress in layers and can be comfortable outside on the crisp, frigid, winter evenings. In fact, I’ll go further and say I’ve come to enjoy walking in the snow. The snow acts as an excellent sound-proofer. The silence it creates is wonderful for muffling the noise. It creates space to hear things that you would otherwise miss.
Several nights in a row when out with the dogs, I could hear a strange “whine,” then a muted rattle or trill. It wasn’t a sound familiar to me, but it was mournful and haunting. Thinking about the types of wildlife that are active at night, I knew it had to be some type of owl. After googling, I discovered sound recordings online, and determined the screech owls calls matched what I was hearing. They used the word “tremolo” to describe that mellow trill. It’s a sound the male owl makes when searching for his woman. I’m not ready to make that my word of the year, but the whole incident reminded me of the importance of being in the moment. I think about what I would have missed, if I hadn’t been listening.
“Mindfulness,” maybe that could be my word for the year. This exercise of photographing a work in progress has forced me to be more mindful of the process of sculpting. So much of what I do has become intuitive. Other words I am considering are gratitude and grace.
Below are the last images of the piece prior to firing. The next steps of the process I use to finish the figure are not as linear or predictable. I’m not sure where I’ll be next week, but I plan to post my progress.