Leaving + Lucky by Christina Rosalie

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I feel so unbelievably lucky. Thank you to everyone who snatched up artwork. It was the fastest pay-what-you-can studio sale I've ever had. So fast in fact, that I had no chance to open it up to everyone. The good news: I'll be offering another sale this summer with lots more bird paintings (so much love for those, and so many requests!) and, just as soon as I get settled I'll be making a sweet postcard pack with gorgeous glossy prints of all the birds. That should be available at the end of May. I put some work up here, just for you to take a peak if you'd like.
It's been a week.
Wrapping projects, saying goodbye, and planning for things to come. I've been listening to this playlist on repeat, and periodically bursting into tears. The moments collide. Everything possible. Everything lost. Everything new.
Saying goodbye sucks. There are people here who are a part of my heart. People who make me smile every single time I think of them. I want them all to come West with us. (Maybe they will. A girl can hope.)
Because of the way spring break happens for the kids, yesterday was their last day of school. We've been the luckiest with their teachers. So good. So intuitive and skilled and heartfelt. The boys came home with goodbye cards and treasures from the year. They'll land in a new school, find new friends, chart new paths of course. They'll find their stride in summer camp. All of it. Still.
Their last day at this school felt precious and abrupt. Like it wasn't real. Like it didn't happen. Except there it is: a book from Sprout's class and teacher, "To the boy with the sunlight in his eyes." They know him well. Whenever he talks about moving he refers to our new geography in it's entirety. "To Portland, Oregon." It isn't a real place yet. The only place that's real is here, amidst boxes. He's found the packing paper and has turned it into a wide drawing surface: tall castles and taller trees.
Bean is off with his friends, saying goodbye in his own boyish ways. Playdates one after the next: biking and tree forts and inventions. Exchanging addresses. Mailing pre-emptive letters. It's only pretend-real to both of them.
"Mommy," Bean says with a playful gleam in his eyes. "I know that you and Daddy are the Easter Bunny."
I look at him: tousled hair, black and white checkered Vans, his skinny shoulders in a soft grey sweatshirt, his hands full of electric circuit board equipment. How is any of this possible at all?
The inevitable flow of time.
The way we move on: grow, and outgrow ourselves over and over again.
Here we go.

Learning to exist at the edge of the unknown by Christina Rosalie

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DSC_9935 I wake up wanting wildness; wanting the long view; wanting to be somewhere at the edge of what I know. I can't explain it. It's feels exactly like hunger, and even after breakfast it is still there, gnawing in the pit of my belly, and so we go, all four of us.
We take chocolate and walnuts, and chai marsala tea. We wear boots, and layers and our warmest gloves. We drive North, to the Champlain islands, to where lake meets sky, the water frozen into a smooth wide sheet till it blurs, yellow and milky at the edge.
The boys have the right approach. They pile into the car ready for adventure, and climb out when we park, curious, wide-eyed, already running towards whatever they will fine. The unknown is an invitation, a lure, a wild promise.
For T and I it's harder. It requires effort to shake off expectations and preoccupations, and the ground is icy and uncertain beneath us.
My breath catches where my breastbones join.
The boys run ahead, propelled by innate curiosity and instinctive balance. They run out onto the ice following sled tracks, unafraid, reckless in their abandon to know whatever this is, this ice, this world at the edge, this day, this newness of now.
For them, sliding is play. Falling too is it's own wonder: a flirtation with gravity. A chance to be airborne and to come down again, hard and certain, but without the pain of height and the thud of inflexibility. I watch them as they fall, over and over on purpose. Running, they hurl themselves knees first toward the ice, then slide out ahead in a graceful uncontrolled arc, yelling with glee.
I yell warnings after them unheeded, and feel afraid I am of this. Of what I can't control.
Without planning, I've arrived exactly at the wild edge of the unknown that stirred me from sleep like a hunger, though when we left the house I didn’t for a moment picture it like this: ice as far as the eye can see, with fishermen dotting the horizon. We slip-slide past the holes they've left, drilled drilled down into the quiet dark, where Lake Perch swim slowly through still water without sun.
The boys want to poke their booted toes in; I imagine hypothermia. My voice snaps fiercely in the cold air. They look surprised. And when we come close to the shore, they walk along the lake’s broken lip where the cattails rattle, and as the ice cracks and bows under their weight, they laugh with glee and stamp harder. I bark warnings, imagining them sinking under.
So here I am, learning to exist at the edge of the unknown, where my fears rise up again and again. I am afraid what I can't control, of the things I do not know, of outcomes that aren't certain, of edges I don’t know how to trust.
It takes a long time for me to realize why I am here, skating on dark ice; how these these moments are exactly the metaphor I need.
My breath catches. I release it.
Out there, on the wide open of the icy lake the fishermen silently sit on over-turnned buckets, not moving at all.
Their stillness is a kind of knowing I must learn. Their patience quiet and long.
Wearing thick parkas with fur close to their cheeks, they watch the small hole at their feet for signs of life. Sometimes there is a flicker. Once, twice, they pull in a fish. But the point isn’t that quick action; that flick of wrist and tug of line. Waiting is. Waiting, until even that ceases to be the point, and they simply are. Being. Hearts beating a steady thunder under layers; breath gathering in the stillness above them, signaling a silent gracious prayer: to be alive. To be alive.

Falling in love: to Jamaica and back by Christina Rosalie

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We leave before dawn, and watch the world grow light from above. A thin red line between the black of earth and the blue of heavens: dawn happens like this. And the moon, a waning crescent, a celestial hangnail bright and silvery against the softening sky.
By New York, the sun is a ball of the brightest red, and then the world turns gold and then finally blue with day and we lift off again to cross the continent southwards, and then across the ocean, the world from above taking my breath away.
When we land the air is thick with humidity and fragrance. Our pants stick to our legs and my hair blows into my face as we wait for our driver to show up to take us the hour drive to where we are staying in Ocho Rios.
"I've just had a nice Red Stripe, mon" our taxi driver says, after we've loaded our luggage in and are off on the highway. "They're refresh'n, mon. Have you had one yet?" He glances back in the rearview where we're fiddling with seat belts that have no place to buckle.
"Not yet," we laugh.
"That's how I start my day, mon. I smoke a splif and have a Red Stripe. That holds me through the day, ya know?"
So here we are, under the equatorial sun, driving on the left side of the road with a laid back cabbie who might be both high and buzzed. Somehow he drives as straight as everyone else is driving. Everyone swerves. They "overtake" drivers up ahead by encroaching until they're near enough to kiss bumpers and then just sort of sidle to the right, oncoming cars be dammed. At least though, they honk a warning. In fact, they honk for everything.
After a while our driver begins telling us about the way he's using his hand to signal if there are cops where he's just been, or if it's an all clear to other drivers. His hand floats out the open window into the warm, sweet air making upward and downward waving gestures. There is a code. There are lots of codes. Their patois is a code. A pidgin of English evolved by slaves to evade plantation owners. H get's dropped from words recklessly and added to others with precipitousness. Ocean becomes "hocean" and hotel, "otel."
The island is teaming with code, with secrets, with myths, with ways of being that emphasize things that are entirely different from whatever it is we're hell bent on here, in northern New England (with our rational predilections and our perpetual industriousness and productivity.)

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The stories he tells are about about the owners of various huge houses who are cursed, about the delicacy of Conch "that is a man food, and too strong for the lady," and about the ganga and where the best of it grows. What matters is "living a good life, mon, ya know?" Happiness derives from simple pleasures: fresh-picked sweetsaps, papayas, breadfruit roasted over the fire, saltfish, jerk pork, ganga, music.
At the edges, hunger shows itself. There are shacks everywhere, belonging to squatters who "capture the land" and sell fruit, or fish or conch or carwashes from roadside stands rigged out of whatever they can find. There is both an ease and a desperation here, on the North side of the island where the economy depends on the tourist hustle of cruise ships coming to port, and people like us arrive at the small wind-blown airport amongst a thousand bougainvilleas.
When we arrive at our hotel, we slip into another world entirely. A gem from the 1950s, a throwback to the jet-set life. It's a gorgeous, sprawling blue-walled affair that was once a coconut plantation on the sea. Marylyn Monroe came here; T.S. Eliot; Ian Flemming; Winston Churchill. Our room overlooks the beach, with an open verandah that we slip over sidesaddle onto the sugar sand, and, upon returning, step into a steel bowl of water to rinse sand from our feet. 2013-10-02 18.20.34

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It feels like a dream. I've never been on a vacation like this. Nothing close. We never took a honeymoon trip, and this, we decided would be ours. Except when the day came for our flight, which was also our anniversary, T and I were pacing cafes in NYC, waiting for referrals to go through so his insurance would cover his surgery. and feeling very much like the HMO was playing a game of roulette with his life. Trip insurance is worth it sometimes, and this time it's why we're here. Standing a little awe-struck on the verandah, watching gentle blue waves break beyond the palms that make gorgeous feathery silhouettes on the sand.

We spend the week relearning things. What it means to go slowly. What it means to go even slower than that. What it is like to make love whenever we want to, without children underfoot. What it feels like to watch a sunset from beginning to end, while lying on a raft in the warm ocean. What reading feels like: the slow kind, in books with paper pages and pens to mark the good lines. To dog-ear pages and sip mojitos made with the best Jamaican rum and the sweetest Jamaican sugar. And above all else, relearning what we feel like, just the two of us, together.
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It felt like falling in love for the first time: that crazy high of giddiness, that perpetual desire to be close. Yet better, with the easy laughter and easy quiet of knowing each other for 14 years. We went some places: up the Blue Mountains to see coffee farmers; into the farmers and crafts markets to hagle over prices; and into a shanty town/cafe that served the best fish, where everyone was high and hawking wears and dancing even though it was only mid afternoon. But mostly we swam and read and swam and made love and lay in hammocks and watched the stars.
It's strange, the way the past two weeks happened, back to back: the former, one of the worst I can remember and the latter, one of the best. Returning feels headlong. Reality arrives and we're still moving at a different velocity entirely. Let-down isn't quite the word, but it has stunned us both nearly to tears to realize that the mundaneness of life still makes us act like idiots and assholes, even after all that bliss. We still argue over stupid things like dinner, and how to encourage/enforce Bean's cello practice, or how to get out of the house as a family on time.
Still, the wonder from that trip is indelibly bright.

Camping in Maine by Christina Rosalie

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Actually getting packed up and into the car was the hardest part because it forced the uncomfortable realization that no amount of list scribbling or pre-planning or careful packing could really avert catastrophe or control the unknown. It's always something that disconcerts me, to rub up against the truth of how small and insignificant we really in the scheme of things (occupying as we do, some fragment of star dust in a universe of galaxies, far flung and indeterminable)and also how knowing this does nothing to abate my puny efforts to prepare against all odds for everything and anything beyond my control out there at the edge of the sea in Maine: swarms of bugs, drowning, sex, mysteries, arguments, splinters, tangled hair, sunburns, hunger, coffee cravings, mood swings, head aches, boredom, impatience, and discomfort. Discomfort most of all.
Still, once we got in the car, there we were. Driving, singing at the top of our lungs, mediating arguments, and stopping for things to eat. We drove late. Spent the night in one of those grungy little motorist motels that are every seven miles it seems along the highways in Maine, and the next day made our way out to the coast.
The sky turned from foggy to blue, the water cerulean, the salt air immediately causing my hair to curl. Our campsite was under pines and birches at the edge of an old granite quarry just outside Stonington. In the distance, a fog horn, and nearer, the smell of camp fires and the soft spring of pine-needle covered ground under our feet.
We swam in a fresh water quarry on an island, rock hopped on the beach, ate lobster, shucked oysters, learned what lobstermen do, marveled at the many colored buoys, wondered at the life of lighthouse keepers, pointed to seals (like fat sausages on the small granite islands out toward the edge of the bay) and cormorants and gulls, explored the town, drew exquisite corpses while cooking dinner, roasted marshmallows, and threw rocks off the edge of the quarry before sitting together at sundown watching the heavens flame and the water turn to liquid gold. Of course there were moments when we snapped at each other. Everyone got bug bitten. There was sap on the bottom of our feet. We cooked too much food one meal, and didn't bring enough when we went kayaking for half a day. We spent a small fortune on firewood. We brought too many shorts and not enough sweatshirts. We forgot reading material (except iPads that died shortly after arrival.) We had a long drive home. And it was perfectly imperfect.
It took three days really, to just be there. To stop thinking beyond the moment. To settle completely into the simplicity that camping affords: making coffee and frying up eggs and pancakes over a griddle in the morning; walking to the water to play for some part of the day; then venturing into the town, or out onto the water in a kayak or a boat to watch the grander "vessels" as the boys called them.
Sprout was worried about the huge, beautiful old sail boat that passed with a black flag flying. "Pirates, Mama!" he proclaimed from the front of my kayak. Then he proceeded to lie low so that they wouldn't come after him (and nearly fell asleep) as I rowed steadily to shore.
It took three days and then the fourth was dreamy and even keeled and I didn't want it to end. I didn't have time for writing really, but what I had instead was time for thinking; for listening; for sifting through the tumbling of the thoughts and ideas that have accumulated over the past few months. And also time for not thinking. For just being there, in my most animal state: sun browned and mostly naked on the beach, watching the gulls twirl and the boys laugh and the salt air stir the tall, tall pines.

Portland, Maine in so many, many pictures by Christina Rosalie

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So we went to Portland East for the weekend, and oh, what a beautiful city. I dare say I fell in love. And have heaps of pictures to prove it (sorry about the overload. I just had to share all of my favorites.)
Right before we left I broke my phone, and so for the weekend I only carried my DSLR, instead of defaulting to my iPhone and it was a welcome change. Every time I walk about with my "real" in hand I find that I bring a different level of intention to my observation.
I look for the small details that make things real: the skull and cross bones sticker on the door; the fish tails on the floor; the wedge of lemon in my drink; the silhouette of gulls as the sky turns to twilight; tattered prayer flags flying overhead; the pattern of sunlight and dappled shade; the way things decay at the edges of things.

Through the lens on a walk today by Christina Rosalie

Empty nest - Christina Rosalie Springtime In Vermont - Christina Rosalie

Reflection - Christina Rosalie

Rings on water - Christina Rosalie

At the pond's edge - Christina Rosalie

Before the green - Springtime in VT - Christina Rosalie

Moss in spring - Christina Rosalie

Dog sipping water  - Christina Rosalie

Moss on log - Christina Rosalie

Spring runoff - Christina Rosalie

Feather - Christina Rosalie

At the surface - Christina Rosalie

Wild crocuses  - Christina Rosalie

Rural VT farmhouse - Christina Rosalie

Rural Vermont - Rosalie

Pussy willow catkins - Christina Rosalie

Pussy willow catkins - Christina Rosalie

T and I went on a walk this morning with the pup, looking for signs of spring here in Northern Vermont where the winter still has been particularly reluctant to leave. We saw an owl take off above the pond with the widest wing span either of us have ever seen, and flickers with their gorgeous, almost-neon red heads and spotted plumage pecking in the newly greening grass.
What does the world look like where you are?

A Thing Or Two About Resilience by Christina Rosalie

Thank you to everyone on my mailing list who completed my survey this week! I learned so many things--about you, and about myself, and about the things you'd like me to write about and share here. (I'm hoping to do another little post about the results this weekend.)
Thank you also to everyone who bought work in my studio sale! I am so grateful. I love knowing my work will find special places in the corners of your homes and studios and office spaces.
Above are a selection of the pieces that went to new homes in the sale. I had no idea that nearly everything would go in a matter of hours in the pre-sale. That really ROCKED, and it made the fact that my house is being torn apart a little more bearable....
The pipes bursting caused so, so much damage.

The beautiful floors T and I put in ourselves seven years ago have to be ripped out across most of the first level of our home and replaced. Each board buckled up like the hull of a shallow canoe. My studio needs a new wall and new insulation; the garage ceiling needs to be replaced.
Everything will be topsy-turvy for the next couple of weeks as things get pulled apart, and then put back together anew.
But what all this has had me thinking about lately is how even this crazy situation is completely a universal experience. Life happens like this to everyone. Maybe not these circumstances in particular; this timing; these muddy roads and wet walls. But it happens, the topsy-turvy, the tilting of things. Things get pulled apart and then put back together for all of us.
And the truth is, I've been through worse, harder, sadder, more disruptive things and gradually I've acquired a soul-memory for what the beautiful word resilience means. Things will shift, tilt, and warm to become something bright and new. This will happen. Inevitably.
We spring back like the saplings that spend the winter bent beneath deep snow. We spring back with the the inevitable sap of the future swelling up. A thaw will come, and the air will fill with the singular scarlet call of cardinals, and little rivulets of snowmelt will rush down banks and gullies, and then the each twig will whip upright, shaking off snow showers and spring back.
What I'm excited about is possibility this year (even though I'm dreading the forced renovations!) I can feel things are shifting. New possibilities are murmuring.

What possibility do you most hope to manifest this year?

An ending & a beginning by Christina Rosalie

The world is suddenly green. The drenched trees lost their blossoms as quickly as they bloomed; petals fell like a party dress to the grass. Now everything flutters with the minute iterations of leaves. The grass is suddenly shaggy and surprisingly long; as though it’s from a Jack In the Bean Stalk fairy tale while hummingbirds zip among the rain drenched azaleas and lilacs fill the air with heady sweetness.


This weekend big things are happening. A Field Guide To Now on Kickstarter is ending tomorrow. 28 hours left. (Become a backer if you haven’t. This is IT!)

I’m leaving on a weekend adventure today with my camera and some pretty shoes in tow. I won’t be here when the project time runs out, but I want to tell you how grateful I am. I am astounded, joyful, terrified, delighted, eager. This is such a big deal… and YOU made it happen.

Thank you.