Rambling, Rainbow Clouds and Beginnings / by Jessica Hunter

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Beginning in the winter. Birthing something out of the cold, frozen white blanket where flowers sleep below. It seems a theme for me, transition in the darker months when hibernation should ensue. This time last year we were just a month into our new city. I still have unpacked boxes and crowded corners. These shorter, drearier grey days pull out a sort of ache in me. Not just the kind in your joints from stagnation and too many days curled up on the couch with a coffee in hand and blanket on feet. It’s more of a soul ache that I tap into when I blur my eyes while looking out the window as all the snowflakes mesh into a hazy white filter. That state between home and make-believe.

 I was struggling with what to write. I started writing this while eating some dark chocolate and watching copious amounts of netflix. A Fine Medley has been established since the Spring of 2014 and the website has pretty much been ready since before Christmas, but for some reason I’ve procrastinated. Sometimes I get so afraid to commit that I get lost in a strange funk where I am paralyzed to move forward. I remember when we were deciding to move, I felt like I had to know where I’d be living forever in order to decide. Sim kindly reminded me that we could try and if it didn’t work out change things. Revolutionary right?  

I’m longing for Spring, and the warm sun to kiss my skin. I’m happy it’s February. I said I wasn’t going to dread winter this year. I said I was going to embrace the seasons, in all their splendour. I lied. By the time I get to February I am usually in a constant state of yearning and wishing to be anywhere but here.

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But, here, I am. Starting. It’s how it is. Progress.

I’m still learning to be fully where I am and to really LIVE.

Hemmingway said,

“Try to learn to breath deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” –Ernest Hemmingway

I think he understood the inevitability of death, and that was his gateway to life. He didn’t make friends with the illusion of invincibility.  I decided after my car accident, the day before I got married, that I wanted to live this way - passionately and presently, aware of all the beauty surrounding us regardless of the messiness of our humanity and all the unforeseen circumstances, which are out of our control.  

I suppose this is why I like working with perishables; they keep me humble and brave. Their fleeting existence is striking; from a tiny seedling into all their glory; a constant reminder that life is the most arresting when lived on the edge.

 A music teacher once told me: “to be a great musician and to cultivate your own ear, you to have to listen to other musicians.” I don’t play music as much as I used to, but when I picked up my guitar today I recalled this and noticed that I’ve adopted it as a sort of life philosophy, a mantra.

I think it applies to art in all forms, to our personhood and our daily activities. Maybe we have to listen to all that’s around us to truly be our greatest. To do this we must remain present, actively noting: the wisdom of a stranger, the correction of a friend, the way the light hits a room, the budding of magnolia flowers in early spring, the textures of a well lived in home, the way the body moves in a dance, the silence found when we stop to breathe, the sweet sound of harmonized voices, the kiss from a lover, the composition in a painting, the colours of a sunset, the shape of your favourite mug, the framing of a photograph that catches your eye, the smell of fresh coffee brewing, the nuzzle from a cuddly pet, the stars when you are outside the city, the scent of a newborn resting in your arms, the romance of dawn, a handwritten letter, the breaking of bread, the wind in the trees, the view atop a mountain, the walk through a valley, the kin found through a poet, an early morning dip in the lake, eyes that say 'i love you,' a summer picnic, the beat of a drum, the timing of a joke, the warmth of a fire in the dead of winter or the looking up to find a rainbow cloud. It’s all telling us something, speaking to us about ourselves and all we are capable of, if we would only be present enough to listen.  

 I’ve never been good at picking one thing. I like to try and experiment. I don’t like the saying “curiosity killed the cat.” I love tapas and wine tastings. Trying little pieces of everything. I enjoy change and mostly embrace it because life is a series of births and deaths, one large transition. This is where Medley came from. My life is one massive MEDLEY. I saw the word drawn out on a carton of locally grown tomatoes this past summer and it was one of those moments when I thought, that’s it, medleymedleymedley. I liked the way it looked, the height of the ‘d’ and the ‘l’ and the depth of the ‘y,’ and the way it rolled off my tongue as I said it out loud to myself in the grocery store.

 I used to envy people who had a straight answer for “what do you do?” I wanted a simple way to categorize myself and abilities, and yet once I resolved that a simple answer wasn’t for me, I felt a sense of certainty in my uncertainty. The unsettledness dissipated and a journey of self-acceptance was born.

 As for the word fine, it used to bother me. I thought of it as a mediocre word to describe things, like “it’s fine” (said with a irritated tone of agreement).  Yet I felt drawn to this single syllable word with its hard consonant n at the close. I think the fact that it rubbed me the wrong way made me want to find something lovely in it. These days I don’t like to be afraid of things, instead I want to face them and move forward. Constantly in motion. A continuous dance. When it comes to fight or flight; I usually fight.  So I went with it, F I N E, but not the satisfactory adverb, instead the high quality and worthy of admiration, fine. This was what I wanted for the medleys I’d create, for the medleys of my life.

I believe we are tactile and sensory. My intuition is not something I tend to ignore, I flow with it and pay attention to the way it sees the world and in turn create from it. Natural elements are integral to my aesthetic and style. I consider the flowers as I arrange them in a vase. They already have an idea of where they’d like to go by the sculpture of their stem, the way they slightly favour the left or right and how open they are. I know this doesn’t sound very technical but it’s how I see the world, lyrically.

So let's listen to be heard and be inspired, to inspire. I'd like this to be a place for that. Maybe if you keep your eyes open, you just might find a rainbow cloud.