Sunday, October 18, 2009

The sphere & the creative process

I was running through a lovely forest last week, when I came upon a bear's resting place. It was a cozy little spot that a mother & a young bear seemed to have been frequenting, judging from the chewed up food containers from the campground 1/2 a mile away, the scat, tracks, etc. In the middle of this bear nest was a spherical object, a little bigger than a basketball, delicately woven from grasses. It was a perfect sphere. Out of curiosity, I gently opened it up and looked inside. Nothing there. It was not one of the balls that mountain lions use to mark their territory. These are roughly basketball size, made mostly of pine needles, stink like cat pee, and often contain very large cat scat. I wondered how, if the sphere was a nest, it had fallen from one of the surrounding towering pines and landed intact, undisturbed.  It was not a squirrel's stick-nest. Its maker had carefully chosen soft grasses of a single type and size.

Bears in October are on a singularly-focused mission to bulk up for winter. Otherwise, I might speculate that the sphere was bear art. I didn’t have a camera that day, so I didn’t photograph it. Nor did I remove it. It seemed carefully placed where it lay.

I woke up in the middle of the night with the sphere at the luminous center of my imagination. I remained awake and focused on the image for hours. It arranged itself as a symbol in various layouts in various paintings in my mind.  I wonder if other people are discovering grass spheres in other forests, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind meets Blair Witch . . . .

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