Following my husband’s death, I returned to our favorite destination in Italy, the historic and picturesque vineyard-reserve, where he had been inspired as a landscape painter. Petroio, situated in the heart of the Chianti region, was the perfect place for reflection. One warm June morning while walking along the old road, I found three beautiful dried conifer rosettes. I was unable to identify the tree from which they had fallen; and no one I encountered had ever seen anything like them.
The following week in Rome, I came across three cones on the grounds of the beautiful second-century church of Santa Costanza. Its interior revealed several friezes with rosettes resembling these cones. The rosettes became sacred objects; and immediately upon returning to Los Angeles, I placed the gifts on my home altar.
Early November, just after my mother’s death, I found three rosettes on the parking strip of her home the Magnolia district of Seattle, WA. Once again, I was unable to identify any nearby tree as the source. One week later, while leaving the house for a morning walk, I looked up and directly across the street was a 40-foot conifer - limbs heavy with brown upright cones. It was clear to me that I was being called home to discover a deeper sense of place.
The year to follow was magically divided between Los Angeles and Seattle, in perfect alignment with the seasonal shifts, offering me the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest that I had remembered and loved as a child.
The first of the mandala series, Seasons of Renewal - Winter, was taken early January, upon awakening to a blanket of fresh snow. The visual impact of a glorious Bella Donna amaryllis in full bloom, juxtaposed to snow weighting the hemlock branches outside the living room window, moved me to attempt to document the life that I saw in the plant which the night before was only a green stock.
Each month my adventure deepened as I traced favorite paths from childhood. I found familiar microcosms of beauty: pale pink dogwood in alleys, vibrant orange poppies and Schiaparelli pink roses thriving on parking strips and creamy white magnolias in forgotten areas between buildings. My secret paths were relatively untouched by the half-century of urban growth. The tall conifer (identified as a Cedrus Deodara) produced young upright vibrant green cones, in season ripening to brown. I witnessed the brown tips as projectiles landing in distant places, resting as buds and finally unfolding into perfect rosettes.
As I took the time to observe nature’s seasonal gifts each flower center became a doorway: each bloom an organic mandala, opening me to the vastness of Life.
Sharon Truax, 2005
THE CREATIVE CENTER FOR LIVING
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