Nephila clavipes | Golden Silk Orb-weaver Spider

Large yellowish spider hanging from a web

Apologies to anyone who has a phobia of spiders – this isn’t the start of a series, I promise!

My sweetheart is scared enough of spiders to quiver and let out a loud, high-pitched squeal when he sees one. If a spider imprudently reveals itself indoors, I am called upon to relocate it using an upturned glass and piece of card.

Strangely, some spiders don’t give rise to that instinctive reaction. For instance, he’s developed a nodding acquaintance with a large spider that lives in a corner of my shed. He admires the little, sturdy jumping spiders for their feisty attitude, observing that if you attempt to scare one off, it holds its ground and sticks its front arms up in a boxer-like stance so it seems to be saying “I don’t think so!”.

And I ought to confess that this spider scared me more than it did him. It was hanging around with the right crowd: we found it suspended face high on a web in woodland outside Mississippi’s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks last autumn.  Continue reading “Nephila clavipes | Golden Silk Orb-weaver Spider”

Life In Clay: Mixed Media Artist, Harold W. Miller

Wind figure by Harold W Miller

I’m a fan of Harold Miller, a contemporary sculptor, who works in mixed media with a focus on clay and ceramics. His largest works are staged on 3D surrounds that have more in common with a theatre set than a traditional frame. Heads and figures, often embellished with tin or jewellery, emerge from textural backgrounds made from clay, stone and/or beautifully stained driftwood.

These two smaller figures show Harold’s technique and storytelling ability. The figures look self-contained, but their silence is lyrical. The man above is one in a series of wind figures wearing stylised, windswept cloaks. It’s almost impossible for the viewer not to imagine the story of his life, as if the clay could have its own history.

Woman by Harold W Miller

But when I first saw Harold’s work exhibited at Chimneyville Crafts Festival, it was this lady, captured in prayer, that I admired most. Her slim frame seems vulnerable and she is rapt in her faith. Though she is made of clay, she overflows with humanity. I can’t tell you her story, but I seem to feel the strength of her heart.

Continue reading “Life In Clay: Mixed Media Artist, Harold W. Miller”

Suzie Cranston’s Birdhouse Garden

When Suzie Cranston’s world was rocked by the death of her son, Peck, a sign saying ‘Peace begins in the garden’ inspired her to create a garden that would celebrate his life.

Beautiful at any time of the year, my sweetheart and I often pause to admire it on walks through our quirky little neighbourhood, Fondren, in Jackson, Mississippi. More than twenty years after starting the garden, Suzie is eager for others to enjoy it as much as she does. She welcomes visitors with a broad smile, pointing out things they may have missed: flowers, garden art, a new birdhouse and, in particular, things that Peck would have loved, such as the tortoises which appear everywhere.  Continue reading “Suzie Cranston’s Birdhouse Garden”

Happiness In A Vase: Zinnias

Bunch of zinnias

This sweet little posy of zinnias was all the nicer for being a gift from Jim Rosenblatt. His official title may be Dean Emeritus of The Mississippi College School of Law, but he wears the unofficial title of Plant Enthusiast with the same self-depreciation and benevolent good nature.

Several years ago, he created a cutting / kitchen garden in an unused corner of the faculty’s parking lot. The soil is rich and crumbly now, after years of being tended, making the plot very productive. These zinnias were freshly gathered from there.

I wonder how many other people have benefitted from gifts of peppers, tomatoes, herbs and flowers from his car park plot? Many more will have their day brightened by spotting this city centre garden as they passed.  Continue reading “Happiness In A Vase: Zinnias”

Delta: The House Of Blues

Delta doorway

The fabled Mississippi Delta is a small, alluvial flood plain between Memphis Tennessee and Vicksburg Mississippi – the home of the blues and rock and roll. Unlike your average river delta (note the small ‘d’) it’s not at the junction between a river and the sea.

The House Of Blues is Orlando’s tribute to the Delta. This door is flanked by the crossroads at Clarksdale, immortalised in several songs, and a map where the Delta appears as a soil-coloured triangle. The path of the Mississippi River is indicated by a gap in the artwork, letting us see through to the wooden boards.

The house of blues

Continue reading “Delta: The House Of Blues”