Common Place

"That thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find..."

Rebecca Solnit

Seeking is in my bones, like making things. I can’t be sure if it’s a native restlessness (I’ve been called “hyper” more than once.) or my inner maker yearning for expression. But whether I’m digging up the weeds with a vision of fresh tomatoes, rooting for abandoned treasure in tall grass or exploring a word that leaps from the written page, I follow that question through that rabbit hole of discovery. I can't help myself.

My love of the undiscovered propels me to search the internet, read the dictionary and my 1947 World Atlas for some proximity of place. I walk the well-tread grass, peeking into the wild, untouched weeds at its edges. I love spotting the not-so-shiny treasure in between the taller blades, left behind with its own story. In my pocket the next chapter germinates.

Planting a garden offers that same rush of anticipation, hope for the future, the possibility ofmaking something. For the past three seasons I've had a spot to plant vegetables and indigo among the hundreds of 10 by 20' farms enclosed by electronic security fences. There are only twenty along the grassy path I walk each day. I used to look through the fence from the outside with my dog, until one cozy and fertile patch became available. I traded for a simple lift of the honor latch to abundance.

Already, I have much to be grateful for. I have met several of the tenants -Taft and Lynn, Marge and Alice. Bonnie tends the adjacent plot. Yesterday, I left with a bag full of beans and a giant zucchini squash, a gracious offering from Marge. Kale, more beans and a helping of dill seed. Generosity abounds and a palpable peacefulness, I make note and a very nice salad.

Recently I came across a term that I found interesting and completely connected to everything else.. Commonplace. The word has all the trappings of notions that fascinate me - community, the ordinary, simplicity, wabi sabi. Actually the word is attached to another I'm very attached to - Cloth…the cousin of skin.

Cloth: A Commonplace” is a project by the artist, Ann Hamilton , a crowd-sourced collection of texts about cloth in all its metaphors. It begs virtual contribution to a common place. To task participation from the broader community. I learned that Ann’s work is driven by extensive research, by words and by stripping words to the core of alternative meanings. Through her work, she pronounces commentary on the historical as well as the social. People convene in a common experience, using her spin, to shed light on the grandeur of the human garden. Of gathering, pausing, listening and sharing.

Taking a minute to watch and listen will make this clear.

Ann Hamilton:I made a theater into a giant loom in Wuzhen

I realized that what I do by saving quotes and poems that speak to my higher self, has a name.

“Commonplacing” is a practice with roots in the Renaissance. This note-taking tradition is embedded in my genes. Whether I copy and paste a quote into a blank computer document, scratch a poem into the pure white of my notebook, or grow a crop with enough to share...

I guess I'm unknowingly seeking that common place. I attend the thread that runs though reading and writing and slow stitching. Through tempering‘the hyper’ to hear the details in the silence. By noticing how seeds gather in the center of the flower, their purpose to eventually burst forth and scatter, never knowing exactly where they'll land and plant new magic to be found.

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