artNotes from Hyde House: In the still of Winter 


In Carthage neighborhoods and around the county, most all the colorfully twinkling holiday decorations have been taken down and packed away for the year. Though the days are waking sooner to lengthen longer, they are often sweetly subdued and sometimes rather gray.

Our heartland world seems to be resting in the still of winter. In pastures outside of town large rolls of uncollected hay bales look like monoliths forgotten and left behind by time. Farmland fields lie serenely fallow. Ploughed under, they passively wait to be sown again in spring.

While the countryside seems supremely asleep and silent, a recent raucous morning on Sycamore Street reminds us the cycles of Nature never, ever come to a complete stop. There is always much to learn from our earthly companions.


Just as Lasyrenn, our Aussie puppy, and I were going down the front steps, leaving home for her daily training walk in Central Park, two pair-bond hawks from the Park arrived. I assumed they had come to discuss their breakfast from the top of the tree across the road from our house. The resident chickadees vehemently expressed their displeasure, then took off to seek perches elsewhere.

As the noisy hawks called out shrieks as though claiming their new roosts for all the world to know, our three laying hens, the Chickie Babes, made themselves scarce. Without a cluck or a peep, they gathered inside their wire-covered coop yard in the company of their protectoress, our winged Wanda statuette, a rescue from a heap of plastic intended for upcycling.

Seeing our feathered girls clustered in seclusion, Lasyrenn and I latched the Chickie Babes’ gate and went on our way. Returning to find the treetops empty of our very vocal visitors, we set the hens free to forage beyond the coop yard for the remainder of the daytime. While writing at my computer I kept one ear cocked and listening for shrieks. None came. The hours passed. The still of winter descended.

On a break, when my husband David and I spoke by phone, he told me the hawks meant no harm and were merely passing on their way elsewhere. I appreciated his reassurance.

Earlier that day, moving through our pre-work morning rituals, over coffee we spoke of Nature’s signs and totems, especially those for which David feels an affinity—the owl and the crow—both being symbols for instinctual wisdom. After the hawks’ attention-getting visitation we questioned their possible meaning.

We learned that in Native American culture hawks are revered as protectors. They symbolize power, courage and strength. They represent the ability to use intuition and higher vision in order to complete tasks or make important decisions. Understood as messengers of the spirit world, seeing hawks means the universe wants you to learn powerful lessons or expand your knowledge and wisdom.

Come spring I will remember this awareness each time I see our pair-bond visitors in their home Park territory as they nest and brood in the high branches of a big old tree beside the Park’s sidewalk. I’ll appreciate them more than ever as they give flying lessons to new offspring winging from limb to far limb and swooping low over Lasyrenn and me as we amble along.

For now, in the still of winter, I will call upon Crow and Owl and Hawk to give me guidance as I move into “La Pietà”, my current painting commission; as I make 2020 plans with artCentral’s Board of Directors; and as together we make preparations for 2020’ s first gallery exhibition HEART & SOUL.  

The art of the Joplin Regional Artists Coalition will fill the galleries of Hyde House, upstairs and down, in February and March. The Opening Reception for HEART & SOUL is Friday, February 7, 2019, 6:00-8:00 p.m. The public is invited. Admission is free. For more information call (417) 358-4404 or visit online.


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