November in my Northern California garden often means digging in the dirt.
Autumn is the very best time for perennials, shrubs and trees to take hold in the still-warm soil. The baby plants extend their roots deep underground, settling in for the cooler weather to come. And later, when spring rolls around, there’s a huge payoff: a lush, bloomy, thriving garden.
Last year I discovered there’s another kind of planting that goes on in November called Art Every Day Month, also known as AEDM.
Leah Piken Kolidas conceived this delightful adventure a decade ago, kind of the art equivalent of nanowrimo. I remember feeling little shoots of joy pop inside me when I heard about it. It seemed to mirror my November gardening ritual, only with art instead: consciously setting creative roots down into the warm soil of imagination, knowing that what you’re planting will continue to burst forth in the coming months and seasons.
No way could I do it last November, though. There was too much going on and I was approaching the winter of my blogging hiatus. But I vowed 2012 would be my year to dive in.
And then I promptly forgot all about my commitment.
Quite by accident I stumbled upon a mention of AEDM on Saturday. And there was an immediate pang. A rush of thoughts: I’ve missed it. I wish I’d remembered. I’m not prepared. Here we are in November already.
Almost as quickly I pulled back and remembered what I know about November in the garden.
Yes, it’s about setting down new roots, but it’s also about improvisation and impermanence and experimentation. I never quite know what will come out and what will go in.
Take this year for instance. I ripped out my beloved circle of lavender. Lavender, as it turns out, has a relatively short life span of four or five years.
And the new lavender replacements are a different variety. There are less of them, too; I’m creating something new without knowing exactly how it will turn out.
So that’s how I’ll do AEDM, with impermanence, improvisation and experimentation. Kind of like how we mostly do life, right? Perfect for my brand of art that’s not about the product and all about the process: collage, painting, shrines, mandalas, drawing, writing, doodling, clay, movement, music/sound, poetry.
And that recently-removed lavender circle that I loved so much?
Well, it’s still with me. In memory. I can close my eyes and see it. I can smell it. I can hear the big black bumblebees buzzing around it. I can feel the sun on my bare arms as I sit in the center of it. I can even let it spill out from a brush and a few puddles of paint.
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