Sometimes the best dream is the little one

February 7, 2023 @ 4:45 pm | Filed under: , ,

field of crocuses blooming in Wilshire Park, Portland, OR


I saw the first snowdrops yesterday. Crocuses seem a bit late this year—usually there are many in the yards of our neighborhood by this point. The photo above was taken at a local park the last week of January, the year we moved to Oregon.

I took photos like mad that year—that first incredible Pacific Northwest spring. Funnily, I’ve hardly taken any pictures at all in the past few months. I think that without noticing it, I’ve hit a point where I’ll look at something beautiful and think: I’ve already got a photo of that somewhere. It’s nice, quite peaceful really, feeling like the seeing alone is enough.

I’m now wondering if this shift is related to my increasing immersion in needle-painting. The time-scale is so different: you can snap umpteen pics a minute, or you can spend months laying stitches with single strands of floss. Both art forms spark great joy. But I think right now I’m more nourished by the slower one. Now I only seem to take a photo if I think I might want to stitch it at some point.

Even now I’m staring at those petals and stamens and imagining what colors of thread I might choose. Those delicious lines of dark purple against the lighter shades. The deeper orange-yellow of the stamens that are farther from the lens. The way you could drop in just a stitch or two of the gold in the center of the more distant crocuses. The question of focus: would you try to recreate the mist of flowers at the top edge of the photo? Or zoom in close to the few up front?

In one of Eric Maisel’s wonderful books—I think this was A Writer’s Space, but it might have been Fearless Creating—he suggested an exercise to help give clarity about what you really truly want to do. He said to dream big, just imagine the grandest vision possible involving the art you wanted to create. Like, say, giving an acceptance speech for a major award for your novel. And since this was when I was becoming really obsessed with embroidery, I started to imagine a gallery wall with my original pieces—but the thing is, the vision immediately shifted to a small mountain cabin, quiet, a tumble of floss skeins, a chair with good light. I understood in a flash that my embroidery ‘dream’ was simply time and space in which to work.

That was a good little epiphany. Apart from the mountain cabin, there was nothing in the vision that isn’t within my reach nearly every day, if only for a few minutes.

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2 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Tabatha says:

    Lovely post! Nice to hear about choosing colors for the snowdrops, thinking about what to focus on, and your dream about time and space to work.
    After not writing many poems for a while, I joined Laura Shovan’s poem-a-day project for the month of February. I have written eight so I am on track so far. I think maybe my favorite is the one that was the hardest to write? But the ones that were easier … were easier, so they hold a special place in my heart too. My least favorite is the first one. The first pancake, I guess.

  2. Katie @ The Cozy Burrow says:

    This post captures my current mindset so well. I’m trying to decide where to focus my energy in the coming months. I want to write more — but nothing big and grand. I want to simply make my blog an inviting, encouraging, and warm space. Not work on increasing page views or getting noticed in any way, but to make my little spot on the internet exactly what I want it to be.

    I am a smidge jealous that you’re spotting snowdrops and are on the lookout for crocus blades. The ground here in New Hampshire is still covered in snow, but I’m hopeful that my crocuses are gathering their strength and courage underground and will be ready to shoot through the earth as soon as they can feel the sun!