I was listening to an artist that I follow on Instagram, Sarah Hand, talk about her work. Sarah is a master of papier mache, and she draws and paints the sweetest, most whimsical characters. She was talking about her sketchbooks and how her husband calls them gardens of ideas. I thought that was so perfect. Sketchbooks are made for growing, gathering, weeding through, and harvesting ideas.
I do my best thinking at this time of year. The cold and snow help me focus and see clearly the things that aren't obscured by snow: the berries that are still hanging on, the peekaboo greens of moss and ferns, the shape of the trees. I always want to find the tender green things. In the absence of plants, I create my own. I did a series several years ago of winter gardens. They were tiny books of flowers from my imagination. I start drawing my houseplants. I add vine-y tendrils to my doodles. I need growing things around me, even if I have to conjure them myself.
Another friend on Instagram brought up the connection between tend and tender. I hadn't thought of it before. Things that are tender are vulnerable, need protection and care. When we tend something, we provide protection and care. It makes perfect sense that that's exactly what I need at this time of year. I need to tend those parts of myself that require nurturing so they can grow into something beautiful and self sustaining.