Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bainbridge Community Broadcast Podcast Interview about the Labyrinth

This is a podcast radio interview I did with Bainbridge Island resident Kayla Black about the Labyrinth I built there.  Its a good one if I say so myself, surprising me as I usually don't like hearing myself on the radio!

Cheers, Jeffrey

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Halls Hill Labyrinth, The Sun

An incredible solar flare arcs far from the surface of the Sun
The Sun is the star around which the planets in our solar system orbit.  It's made of "hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields" that formed when when a large molecular cloud collapsed more than 4 1/2 billion years ago.  The majority of the matter in that cloud gathered in to the Sun while the rest spread as a giant orbiting disk that would eventually become the planets and asteroid belts we know today.  Its diameter is 109 times that of Earth.  3/4's of its mass is made up of hydrogen, and most of the rest is helium, with less than 2% being heavier elements like oxygen, carbon, and iron.  This fiery ball generates enormous amounts of heat that warm the surface of the orbiting planets on the side that faces it determining planetary day and night cycles.

The Sun flaring
The Sun's name comes from the old Anglo Saxon word Sunne, which was derived from a Germanic word, Sunno.  Sunna was a  Goddess in Germanic mythology.  Sunno came from the older Indo European word sóh₂wl̥,.  For the Egyptians, the God of the Sun was Ra.  The Greeks worshipped Helios, who later became associated with Light to make room for Apollo.  Helios was considered a Titan, while Apollo resided on Olympus, a loftier abode.  It was in Latin myth that Apollo drove the chariot of the Sun while the Greeks always attributed this task to Helios.  In mythology, Apollo was born on the Greek Island of Delos.  Delos is said to have the most sunny days of any other place in the Greek empire.  A city of temples was built on Delos over the years there by the various Greek states wanting to gain the favor of the Gods through displays of devotion.  In Roman mythology, the Sun diety was named Sol Invictus.
All that remains of the Temples to Apollo on the Island of Delos, Greece
The Hindu God of the Sun is Surya, who also drives a horse drawn chariot.  The 13th Century Temple at Konark in the Indian state of Orissa is a monumental chariot like structure with stone wheels that is drawn by majestic horses with Surya at the helm.

A stone wheel on the Temple of Konark, a monumental chariot guided by the Hindu God Surya
The Halls Hill Labyrinth is literally a path leading to the Sun, which you reach by walking in and out of circuits dedicated to the planets in the solar system.  It has been a long haul building the hundreds of feet of path that leads from the eastern entrance of the Labyrinth to the center.  I've gone around and around 11 times and now I am ready to build the center, the star that dominates our very existence.  I started the center by arranging the steel form strips in to a circle merging with the straight path that leads in to it.

The forms set for making the center of the Labyrinth
A lot of people came by on Friday and Saturday, to the point where I was having a hard time getting my work done.  I've been at it for 12 days straight and I probably need a day off.  But that will come after I'm finished.  People are showing up with last minute stones, beach glass, and found objects for me to incorporate last minute in to mortar.  Boxes of heart shaped rocks, barely tumbled broken bottles, and broken dishes have been offered up but much of it can't be properly set in to the mosaic with lasting results.  But the things that will work will find their way in to the center of the Labyrinth.

Judy brought me a bag of beach glass.  She came on her bicycle, bravo!
What I need for the sun mosaic are lots of slender and wedge shape stones, so I went to Pleasant Beach and picked about 50 good thin little pebbles to mix in.  This is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island.

Looking for slender pebbles on Pleasant Beach
I spent much of two days collecting the loose unused stones from the site that have been spread out over the mosaics.  I picked out all the linear, rather hot dog and wedge shaped stones to use in the center disk, where I want to make a bursting design radiating from a hole in the center.  The hole will be the same size as the white stone mosaic moons on the outer 11th ring of the Labyrinth.  This hole will represent Blue Moons, which occur when there are 13 full moons in a year.  It will also represent solar and lunar eclipses when the Earth, Sun and Moon are aligned.  I'm hoping people will come and walk the Labyrinth on full moons when the forest is bathed in moonlight.

Deborah Cheadle, who took me to visit the Country Club area on Easter Sunday came by and then went home and retrieved a stack of nursery pots that I can store unused rock in for future mosaics.  Her father Andrew Price came by later in the evening and gave me a copy of his book about the history of the Port Blakely area where I am working.  I look forward to reading about it.  He told me the first tennis courts in Washington used to be near where the Labyrinth is now, built by the Halls brothers after which the hill and park are named.

I mixed a couple of bags of mortar and set the first third of the Sunburst and think it looks very pretty, like multi colored hot dogs mixed with other linear pieces in rich colors.  So I'm roasting hot dogs on the Sun.  I added a mixture of colored stones in with the twelve seasonal colors that expand out from it to depict the bursting force of the Sun.

Beginning the circle of rays that emanate from the center of the Sun disk
Having the center open makes a kind of turn around leading in and out.  Later as people began to walk it I noticed that people tend to enter to the right, probably conditioned from driving on the right, but for me the energy flows in a sun wise direction.

The first section of the Sun
I had so many visitors yesterday that I was mentally exhausted.  The weather forecast was for rain the day I finished and it was cold out.  And it was Sunday and I really felt like I needed a day off, but I set goals for myself and push to meet them sometimes.   It is a lot of work to build a path that is almost 1,000 feet long out of beach pebbles and stones.  Because the weather was chilly, I didn't get a lot of visitors, but rather just the right amount.  It was a special day and I had good heartfelt connections with most of the people who came by.

Joe and his daughter Kailin (I'm hoping I'm remembering these names properly) came first with some pieces of beach glass for me to slip in to narrow gaps between the linear stones I am using.  They loved the idea of having something in there that is personal to them.

Joe and Kailin
Judy, who came by yesterday just as I was swearing a string of foul curses when I accidentally dumped my lunch salad on the floor of my truck, brought me a bag of healthy treats in a labeled bag and some nice big nursery tubs for storing the left over stones.  Thank you Judy.

Delicious things in a humble paper bag
I mixed the two bags of mortar that I had left and set the south side of the sunburst.  Gregory went to the building supply place and picked up two more bags and delivered those so I would have enough to finish.  A photographer named Joel came and took stills from the top of a ladder while I worked.  As he was leaving Terry Moyement arrived and he videotaped the last section of work I needed to do to complete the project.  We hugged after I placed the last tone.  I told him I thought the Sun looked like an alien Cyclops from the entrance or  one of those weird water towers you see on the tops of hills.

I had to finish the Labyrinth more than anything else in my life and had worried along the way that something could happen that might prevent me from completing it.  I'm so glad I made it to the end, and I thank my body for tolerating the hard labor necessary to create a project of this scale and intensity of meaning.  I found myself crying from time to time later that day, probably a combination of relief and exhaustion.

The next day I removed the forms and filled the gaps with gravel.  The Eagle Feather has been at the center of the project almost the entire time.  It survived the winter, and I think I will leave it in there.  Please don't step on it.

The Eagle Feather and a memorial stone left for someone named Monty
I spent a couple of hours cleaning up the site and then went for a walk down the slope to Blakely Harbor.  The houses down there range from funky little old places to American dream homes.  The old Victorians have been renovated and their original character is unrecognizable.  Beyond them is Port Blakely park, with rotted pilings and a heavily graffitied old concrete mill building where island kids gather to party.  It hardly seems real that this place was once the largest supplier and shipper of timber in the world.  The pilings covered in seaweed are all that remain of the once bustling port.

Blakely Harbor, once the site of the largest lumber mill in the world
Once all of the loose stone was picked up I cleaned the stonework with muriatic acid to remove the mortar film that dulls the surface.  Then the Labyrinth shows its true colors.  The work was a kind of penance and I did all of the physical labor from start to finish except for the site preparation, which was masterfully installed by Savage Landscapes.  Seeing it glowing there in this magical glade in the forest I have gotten to know so intimately is rather overwhelming.

The completed Labyrinth
And then people began to arrive and walk it.  Helen brought her daughter, who walked it 3 times.  Another woman I had not met before arrived and half way through burst in to tears.  Nancy and Dave came.  I hadn't seen them this year and was so happy that they came.  Dave is blind and Nancy walked him through it.  At the center, they embraced the woman who had been crying, who I learned had suffered the terrible loss of her son.  Then I started to cry.  It just seemed so impossibly beautiful and powerful and full of everything I intended it to be all at once, kind of overwhelming, like the cosmos itself.

I'd like to thank the people who's vision made it possible for this project to happen, and all of the amazingly diverse people I have met during the process of its construction.  Its been an incredible journey.  We may publish a guide to understanding the meaning incorporated in to the circuits so that people can better understand what they are walking on, and work will be done to improve the entrances, so I will be back to this beautiful island in the not too distant future.  When you come to the bend to the 3rd circuit in the pink stone area of the south, and you see the Red Tara, a Bodhisattva surrounded by radiating stones, try not to step on her.  She connects Heaven and Earth and deserves great reverence.  There will be a formal dedication at 4:00 on Sunday, June 29th.

Red Tara
Thanks for following this winding path from the outside to the center, Jeffrey

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The First Circuit, Mercury

Mercury has a surface similar to our moon

Parian Marble statue of Hermes, 1st Century BC, found in the Antikithira Shipwreck excavation, National Museum of  Archaeology, Athens.  Only the part of the statue buried in the sediment escaped the erosion of time.
The last circuit that I built in the Labyrinth is the first, dedicated to the planet and God Mercury.  Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, and also the smallest in our solar system.  It takes 88 Earth days for it to make a full rotation around the sun.  The speed of its rotation may have inspired its being named for the fastest of the Gods.

Mercury is the small dark spot in the lower center.  The others are sun spots.

The Roman God Mercury was the messenger, perhaps best known in modern times as the logo for FTD Florists.  In Greek mythology he was the God Hermes.  He is often depicted with wings on his golden sandals which were made by the God of Craftsmen, Hephastus.  On his head he wore a winged hat called a Petasos.  This was derived from floppy sun hats usually made of felt worn by farmers whose form gave the impression of wings.  These two implements helped to give Mercury the ability to fly at great speeds.

He carries a Caduceus, a staff entwined by two serpents given to him by his half brother, the God Apollo.  It became the symbol of commerce, negotiation, and balanced trade (an irony in today's corporate world).  He is also the patron deity of communication, divination, eloquence and poetry, boundaries, luck, and my favorite- travel.  In Roman mythology he was also the guide of souls to the underworld.  And he deliveres flowers!

A classic Mercury adorns the prow of a gondola in Venice, Italy
I began the work on this circuit by bringing the straight path that runs in line with the entrance in to the curve of this circuit, which runs a short distance around to the west where two loops connect it to the Venus circuit.  I made a feeble and totally abstract attempt to depict a Caduceus.  Only I will ever know where it is.  Then I went back to flowers, tapping in to the FTD Florist connection by coincidence.  Ford made a Mercury, and Hermes makes scarves, and I made a rainbow of colored stones.  The next day I made the second loop connecting the Mercury to the Venus circuit in brown stones.

Rainbow colors in the Mercury circuit
A breathtaking rainbow over Puget Sound a week before I made this mosaic
While I was working on this my friend Sarah King from Portland arrived.  We sat on the bench swing when it rained and then I went to work on the other half of this short circuit.  I will make the loops at the end tomorrow.  I made Sarah a black flower that went perfectly with her outfit.  She had a little black lava pebble in her car from a special outing that she retrieved and I tucked it in to a spot next to the flower.

Sarah King
Next to it I made another flower using a glazed black door knob for the center given to me by a woman who lost her husband last year.  Mercury is an escort for departed souls to the Gates of the Underworld.

Later two women came to visit.  Bonny lives on the island and Naira is from Armenia.  Naira works for Habitat for Humanity and Bonny worked on a project with her in Sri Lanka.  We had the sweetest visit and I made them each a flower after they went to ring the Prayer Wheel.  Doing good work is the best message of all and it was a pleasure to meet these generous souls.

Bonny and Naira
The next morning the sun was sparkling on the water and a frigate boat, the Odyssey was loaded with Sea scouts as it pulled out of Blakely Harbor.  Through the telescope it looked like they were saluting.  The temperature feels like it goes up 10 degrees when the sun is out and what a beautiful day to go sailing.

A Odyssey pulling out of Blakely Harbor
I returned to the site and finished the loops that connect the Mercury circuit to the Venus circuit in the shortest section of the Labyrinth.  It looks kind of like a hot dog so I am now calling it the "Frankfurter".  Once I finished this section I started the daunting task of moving stones off the Labyrinth.  Len brought me several large nursery tubs to store them in until I can use them for other projects in the park.  There must be a ton or more of stones that didn't get used, because having a good selection to chose from is essential for making a well fitted mosaic.

The Mercury circuit finished
I was planning to take the rest of the day off but a series of people arrived as if they were scheduled by appointment, one after another, including my friend Gillian Matthews from Seattle who brought her son.  It was a beautiful afternoon and people were dropping off pebbles and found objects for last minute inclusion in the Labyrinth.

Special delivery of a special little stone that will go in to the sun at the center of the Labyrinth
Chris came by again with his big yellow Labrador Retrievers.  He brought a fascinating book of historic photos of Bainbridge Island showing an entire mill town below the site where I am working.  Small Victorian houses lined a waterfront street edging a bay filled with frigate ships loading up lumber destined for the far reaches of the globe.  Lumber was shipped to California, Chile, England, France, Germany, and Australia.  Stones were brought as ballast and dumped off Rockaway Beach before loading the wood.  These stones make up the majority of the material I used for the mosaics.  Now a Labyrinth sits in the midst of a forest growing on what was once the largest lumber mill in the World, which when viewed from Nature's standpoint was a genocide.  In my mind we have some healing work to do.  Mercury comes bearing flowers to those who give back to the Earth.  May walking this path inspire us to do so.

The last of the circuits is complete
Thanks for reading, Jeffrey

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Halls Hill Labyrinth, The 2nd Circuit, Venus, Love

The Second circuit in the Labyrinth is dedicated to the Planet Venus, and the Goddess of Love, beauty,  pleasure, and procreation.  This is the second shortest circuit in the Labyrinth.  Venus is a terrestrial planet about the same size as earth but has an atmosphere that is 97% Carbon dioxide.  The surface of Venus is 462 degrees centigrade, so there is no water.  The outer layer of the atmosphere is Sulfuric Acid.  Charming. 
An ancient Greek statue of Aphrodite, with a replacement head carved by Canova
Venus is the Roman equivalent of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite.  According to Hesiod's Theogeny, a poem describing the birth and genealogy of the Gods, Aphrodite was said to have been born out of the foaming sea (Aphros) where the genitals of the God Uranus were flung after he was castrated and deposed by his son Cronus (Saturn) at the desperate request of his Mother, Gaia, who was tired of giving birth to bizarre and troublesome children.  While this may cause a smirk of malice among women, and men to cross their legs, I find the analogy of love being born out of the pain of divine castration to have some interesting psychological connotations.  What better way to explain the vagaries of love to scholars and illiterate sheep herders about the irrational chaos inspired by the secretion of hormones and various other chemicals in the brain when one comes in to the proximity of an object of desire.

Sandro Botticelli's Birth of Venus
When the genitals hit the water, Aphros and Bythos went to work.  Aphros (Sea foam), and his sibling Bythos (Sea Depths) were Ichthyocentaurs, anthropomorphic sea creatures with the body of man to the torso, where a pair of horses legs emerged followed by the tail of fish.  They were fast swimmers and able to breathe underwater.  They bore a scallop shell to the surface near the shore of Pathos on the island of Cyprus where the genitals had splashed, from which the Goddess Aphrodite emerged, so beautifully depicted in Botticelli's painting and this scene from the Terry Gilliam movie, 'The Baron Von Munchausen.  Aphrodite literally means rising from the Sea Foam.

                                             Double click this to make the video full screen

A less macabre birth story is the claim in Homer's Iliad that Aphrodite was the offspring of the Goddess Dione, a consort of Zeus.  Dione is a feminine form of the word Dio, so essentially she was the female aspect of Zeus himself.  

Aphrodite was so beautiful and desirable that Zeus suspected there would be trouble in the kingdom with suitors fighting for her favor, so she was married off to the hideous God Hephaestus (Vulcan), the God of artisans and metal smiths.  He made her fabulous jewelry and a corset that made her even more irresistible, but she was not content with him and took other lovers, including Ares (Mars), the God of war.  Hephaestus learned of the affair from Helios and made a very fine but unbreakable net which he cast over them as they slept naked together.  He dragged them to Mt. Olympus to exact retribution, but the other Gods only found  the situation humorous and made him release them with a minor sentence.  

Aphrodite fending off Pan, with the aid of Eros, Parian Marble, from the island of Delos, Greece
Aphrodite is often depicted in the company of her winged son Eros, the God of Love.  Eros later became the Roman cupid, which is the most pagan of characters to cross over in to the realm of Christianity.  My favorite Eros story was a time when he was kissing Aphrodite and a loose arrow in his quiver grazed her breast.  She pushed him away but then her gaze set sight on the youth Adonis with whom she fell hopelessly in love.  He was a hunter so she followed him on his expeditions, even though she had no interest in hunting.  She was so distracted that she fell behind on her divine duties and had to leave him for a time to tend to her responsibilities as a Goddess.  Before she left she advised Adonis not to hunt animals that showed no fear.  Shortly afterwards he was castrated by a giant boar (believed to be a jealous Ares).  Ouch!  It is said that where Adonis's blood spilled Anemones bloom.  They were my favorite late winter flower when I was in Greece, colonizing specific areas of suitable habitat.  Once again castration leads to beauty.

Anemones on the island of Ios 
I began the Venus circuit on Easter Sunday after a lovely sunny day of pebble collecting on the Country Club peninsula of the island with a woman named Deborah Cheadle, who's family's summer home overlooks a geologic formation created when the sea floor was uplifted during a great earthquake that occurred hundreds of years ago.   Later I built the loop from the Earth circuit and made the first hearts in the second circuit dedicated to love.  

The loop from the Earth circuit to the Venus circuit
These are not the most obvious symbols since they are usually made of two stones pressed together at the center.  Love usually attaches itself to another entity making it a two part equation.  The ultimate love is loving compassion for all sentient beings as prescribed in Tibetan Buddhism as a way of liberating the soul.  This is a good circuit to commit to that ideal while walking the Labyrinth.

A 3 part red heart with a green beach glass Aorta

The next day was gorgeous once again.  The resident woodpeckers to working on trees making a wonderful vibrational sound in the forest.  I set up my forms and worked from green to pink, and red in to purple, ending where the circuit will loop to connect to the first circuit, dedicated to the planet and God Mercury.  

A couple who's dog Riley passed away brought me two white pebbles they had found the beach in Fay Bainbridge Park.  They told me that the speckled white granite one was exactly the same color as Riley was.  I'll make a flower around a geode using the two pebbles for petals when I make the loop in the white northerly direction connecting the Venus circuit to the Earth circuit.
Reilly's Pebbles
Later a man named Chris and his daughter Christine came cycling by.  He said he had been reading my essays and was very interested in the stories about Greek and Roman mythology.  It was one of those engaging conversations that just naturally occur in this space.  It inspires profound thought.  I had just wet the stonework so I could take my daily photograph and the light was perfect.  I was done working for the day but told them I would make them a pair of hearts tomorrow.

Christine and Chris
It rained all night but was dry in the morning and it turned out to be a pretty nice day in spite of the weather forecast for more rain.  A group of four people came to visit and got the tour, and then I set to work moving the forms for the days work.  Every day I have the nicest interactions with a wide variety of people, many of whom come back again with more people to share what is happening here.

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Helen brought her friend Joyce this morning and we had a nice talk about what I am building and how I would incorporate the ceramic heart Helen had left with her note earlier.

Helen and Joyce
They each gave me a silver coin with an angel on it to place in the mortar below the heart for their children.  It was a very sweet gesture.  Angels of Love.

Helen's ceramic heart and two silver Angel coins to be placed underneath the heart

So my goal for the day was to build the Venus circuit from the west to the bend in the north connecting to the Earth circuit.  I transitioned from orange to black to white, and in the bend I set a collection of small stones and shells given to me by a woman named Kayla representing her family and the challenges they've faced and overcome in the last year.  Near those I placed 3 geodes, surrounded by donated ceramic bits and beach glass and the two stones for Reilly the dog.  I added white marble stones I had brought back from sacred places in Greece as well.  One is a disk of white Parian marble that I found on the island of Paros at an excavation site with Hellenistic period mosaic floors.  I had other pieces of marble from the Temple of Hera on Samos, the beach of the Delian Apollo on Naxos, and beaches on Crete.  Another stone came from Pompeii when I was there 5 years ago. 

I placed the two angel coins beneath the ceramic heart and filled the center with bits of beach glass.  This cluster of mixed elements makes for an interesting and rich conglomeration. 

Placing the silver angel coins in mortar beneath where the ceramic heart will go
Then I built the other loop adding 3 more geodes to match the other side.  I placed little ceramic masks made by Jenny Anderson in the gaps in between the two circuits and tucked a tiny starfish that somebody had left for me next to one of them.

A ceramic mask by Jenny Anderson and a tiny starfish left by someone in the loop between the Earth and Venus circuits

From there I worked in to the silver stones that represent the middle of winter and then in to blue green. I places a heart shape rock somebody had left for me that was rather thin, so I pinned it down with green oxidized nails from Blakely Harbor that Chris had given me.  Hopefully they will keep it from popping out of the mortar as the Labyrinth ages.

The end of the Venus circuit will loop in to the Mercury circuit which is the last and shortest one.  The open space in the center of the Labyrinth is getting really small now after about 3 months of hard work. When people walk this circuit I hope that it triggers feelings of love and understanding and caring.  And then you turn to Mercury, the messenger and deliver a love letter to all who come in to contact with you.
The Venus circuit will be complete when I build the loops connecting to the Mercury circuit
Almost done!  Thanks for reading this, Jeffrey

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Halls Hill Labyrinth, The 3rd Circuit, Earth, the Community Circuit

Earth is the 3rd closest planet to the sun after Mercury and Venus.  It is the only planet not named after a Roman or Greek God.  The name Earth is derived for an Anglo Saxon word Erde which has Germanic origins.  It is the densest planet in our solar system and the largest of the 'terrestrial planets'.  Earth was formed about 4 1/2 billion years ago and simple molecular life forms originated in the planet's seas about a billion years later, possibly around thermal vents deep in the oceans.  These organisms proliferated and began forming a biosphere that significantly altered the planet's atmosphere, creating an ozone layer that blocks life inhibiting solar radiation.  This enabled life forms to eventually move from the seas to land masses.  Earth is in just the right place for life to happen.  Its all a matter of circumstance that this little speck in the Universe developed in the way it did.  And the results of this chemical manifestation have been magnificent.  The planet is in constant flux in a symbiotic melange of systems that adapt to every modulation in the environment.  The organisms that thrive here have taken advantage of every circumstance in what was an ever expanding variety of species until our current species came along.  Its believed that a meteorite ended the era of the dinosaurs, who ruled the Earth for 180 million years.  We've been here for about one million years, at first living as part of the ecosystem, until we attained the ability to alter the environment in order to subsist on a more controllable level.

In the last 540 million years, the time span where the fossil records show the existence of large populations of complex hard shelled organisms, the Earth has experienced between 5 and 20 mass extinctions.  Today our impact as a species is causing another one.  Our hominid ancestors developed in to a highly adaptable species, capable of living in diverse climates from the tropics to the Arctic.  After the last ice age ended, Homo sapiens populations grew exponentially.  We currently number about 7.2 billion people.  That number is projected to increase by another billion in the next 10 years!  The impact that this population explosion has had on this planet is far reaching.  It is estimated that 30,000 species will become extinct in the next year, about one every 3 hours.  A report in National Geographic magazine predicts that 1/4th of all species on the planet are threatened with extinction by 2050.

One of four bronze ecosystem panels on the Prayer Wheel in Halls Hill Park
Currently our disconnect from the natural world is at an all time high.  Most American's knowledge of nature comes largely from watching television.  The majority spend far more time texting than communing with the natural world and concerns about the economy rate far higher than environmental concerns in polls.  I am eternally grateful that I was taught to love and respect the Earth even though observing the way that we degrade our natural world can be a very difficult thing to watch.

An incredible array of colorful seaweeds washed up on the shore of Rockaway Beach
Still, I find this planet to be so fabulous that it is my life's goal to explore as much of it as I can I'm able.  One of the great tricks has been to balance the desire to be a vagabond with working and having a home and garden.  Its one of the reasons I choose to work outside.  I take the winters off when the garden is dormant and the weather inclement in Oregon.  I've probably learned more traveling than I have doing everything else combined.

Meteora, Greece
What I have seen out there is nothing short of breath taking.  Earth is covered in gems, many of them man made but the best being natural landscapes.  We tend to completely alter the landscape to suit our needs, leaving no remnant of what was naturally there.  I feel incredibly fortunate to be building this Labyrinth on a site surrounded by nature.  I've returned to Bainbridge Island this time to complete the project.

The Earth circuit is the one I chose to build as "the Community circuit," an idea suggested by my client to make the labyrinth more participatory.  The idea was to have people bring stones and found objects that I would use to build the third circuit from the center.  We made a nice sign explaining what I was looking for and people slowing started to leave stones.  Since I've been back on the site this Spring a few more piles have appeared and the selection looks good.  People have left collections of beach glass, geodes, an amethyst crystal, Ammonite fossils, a Tibetan lock, and oxidized metal spikes and nails from the days when ship building was a lucrative trade on the island.
An assortment of stones and other objects donated for the Community circuit
I loaded the truck with my gear for the two final weeks  of work and filled the gas tank (Saudi oil?  Domestic Fracking?  Tar Sands?) and got on that massive strip of traffic clogged pavement that is Interstate 5 and drove back to Bainbridge Island on April 15th.  My biggest environmental sin is driving a fossil fueled vehicle over long distances, pumping greenhouse gases in to the atmosphere.  Once I'm settled in here though I am staying just a minute from the site which makes for a very low carbon foot print commute.

The night before I left Portland there was a full moon with a lunar eclipse that was dazzlingly visible from my back yard, with Mars shining red above it.  It seems to be an auspicious time to resume work on the Labyrinth.

Full Lunar Eclipse with Mars above and a bright star to the right
I arrived on the island and drove first to Fay Bainbridge Park, which I hadn't been to before.  There is a long wide beach backed by driftwood logs there.  I combed it for small pebbles to use to make flower petals because in the Earth circuit I am celebrating the richness and fertility that is unique to the planet we live on.

The beach at Fay Bainbridge Park
When I arrived at the site I removed the forms from the work I left behind and began clearing the area that I'll be working in.  A yard of crushed rock had been delivered to fill the gaps between the circuits but it doesn't match the nice gravel I was using before, so I am filling the gaps 2/3rds of the way and top dressing it with gravel that I'm scooping off  the parking area up by the road, doubling the amount of work required for this step in the project.  Somebody left a purple tulip on a boulder which I placed between the two white loops near the 'Clouds of Heaven' loops in the northerly direction of the Labyrinth and later buried in gravel.

A purple tulip left at the Labyrinth
This started the cycle of being tired and sore that will progress as I make my way to the end of the project.  The pain in my shoulder had nearly gone away during my break, with the help of massage.  My materials still hadn't been delivered the next day so I spent time setting up forms and sorting rock, and then went to Fort Ward Park to do some discrete beach combing.

Fort Ward Beach
It was a cold damp day so the beach stone was wet, showing off the colors.  I gathered more small pebbles to use as flower petals and some larger stones in colors I am short on for the edges of the path.  There are some interesting bedrock formations exposed along the Fort Ward beach that make circles surrounded by rings of thin layers, with the colorful beach stones filling the depressions.

Soft bedrock formations at Fort Ward Beach
It is arrangements like these that influence the way that I work.  I'm always learning from Nature, who I consider the greatest teacher.

My project manager Gregory picked up 8 bags of mortar for me as the delivery of a fresh pallet didn't happen that day.  I mixed four bags and worked until dark, making time consuming little flowers with bits of green beach glass people had brought.  I have to put them in on edge and they are quite small.  They came out looking like Sea Anemones, which I like.  I left a gap in the mosaic so that I can connect the Mars circuit to Earth circuit later.  The spans between loops are getting shorter than the steel bands that I use for forms so I am having to work around that.  I had new strips cut from a thinner gauge of steel because the bends are getting tighter and I need greater flexibility than the thicker steel strips I've been using will tolerate.  The new strips are so thin that I have to use two of them sandwiched together to give them the rigidity to hold the shape of the curves.

Green beach glass 'Sea AAnemones
The next day I worked my way around to the western cardinal point, where I set a donated Ammonite fossil and made a couple more Sea Anemones using brown beer bottle beach glass.

An Ammonite Fossil, brown beach glass 'Sea Anemones, and alabaster dice in the west of the Community circuit
A woman named Ellen who lives below the park came up and brought me some wonderful pieces of oxidized metal her husband had collected from the beach, including nails with copper in them that have a nice green patina.

The collection of beautiful old metal spikes, nails, and beach glass that Ellen's husband collected
I worked until the rain made it too miserable to continue, so I went home to my place for lunch and was rewarded with a spectacular double rainbow that lasted for over an hour.  I walked back to the site, taking in the vibrant damp greens of Spring and set things up for the next day.  The weather is supposed to be drier tomorrow, so I will make good progress.

Double Rainbow over Puget Sound
In the morning I headed for the site earlier than usual.  The sun was shining and that can be very motivating when you work outside.  It was a beautiful day, with birds chirping, woodpeckers pecking, and me making mosaics.  Some nice people came by and I gave them tours and made flowers for the ones who turned the Prayer Wheel.  In the afternoon I finished the bends in the south from the Mars to the Earth circuit.

Bends connecting the 4th to the 3rd circuit
In the bend to the left I incorporated a Tibetan lock cast with the Bodhisattva Red Tara cast on the front and a lovely mandala that is now set permanently in mortar.  I surrounded it with thin pink and red stones, including some beautiful metamorphic ones in the crown that I collected from a beach while I was in Greece.  When I returned the next day a Madrone leaf had fallen and covered her, and I realized that it could be a great offense to devout Buddhists to have placed her in a position where she could be stepped on.  I left the leaf covering her the rest of the time I worked on the mosaics as protection, and would like people to be mindful of her and to step around her, and to make a vow of loving compassion.  Thanks.

Red Tara
A woman named Lyssa came by and asked if I would do a radio interview with the local access radio station.  I talked to another woman, Catherine about having Monks from the island's monastery come to do a blessing and chant around it when it is finished.  I've envisioned people sitting on each of the 12 boulders and joining in a focused chant.  I would love to see people dance on it as well.  Bring flowers to set in the gravel between the paths, or offerings to place at points you find special to you.  There will eventually be a broom so you can sweep it.  There are thousands of details to be found if you seek them out.  Walking this labyrinth is meant to be a fascinating journey in Time and Space.

I worked from the point I stopped at yesterday, setting the Community circuit from the Western cardinal point to where a pair of bends will occur connecting to the 2nd circuit, the Venus circuit.  In the area with orange stone I placed a copy of the Phaistos Disk, which I bought when I was on the island of Crete in Greece this winter.  The original disk was found in the Minoan palace complex at Phaistos and is twice the size of the copy I bought.  It is considered to be the oldest known example of typography.  Carved seals were stamped into a wet clay tablet in a spiraling line but the text has never been deciphered.  Countless copies in a variety of colors were produced for the souvenir market.  I chose one that mimicked the original.  Surrounding the disk I set bits of red grout from the palace site and pottery shards from the Minoan palace at Knossos.  I added to the mix some alabaster dice making the numbers 7 and 11 along with small orange beach pebbles, creating a quirky flower.

A copy of the Phaistos Disk

From orange area I worked my way in to black stones and then white where the bends to the Venus circuit will be connected later.

There is plenty of rain the forecast, making Spring on Puget Sound lush and vibrantly green.  One of the best parts of this project is when I visit area beaches to collect stones.  I needed to go to town and buy more rebar so I stopped at a beach at low tide on Eagle Harbor where the town of Winslow is located.  The selection here is limited but I can always use small stones, and I want to use material from as many of the island's beaches as possible.

A beach on Eagle Harbor
Connecting Eagle Harbor to Rockaway beach where I collect most of my stone is Creosote Point.  This was once a major facility for treating wood with coal tar as a preservative for making power poles and pilings for docks.  The plant operated for 80 years until environmental concerns forced its closure.  The contaminated site was designated a Superfund site by the government and efforts to contain the contamination continue to this day.  There is a large steel wall enclosing the site and the water here is a murky brown color.  There is a park along the shoreline outside the steel walls, which is covered with barnacles and small mussels at the tide line.

The beach at Creosote Point
I found two beautiful big moon snail shells on the beach that are as large as a small fist.  I later filled one with mortar and placed it in a bend in the Community circuit.  The next day was Easter Sunday and the weather was beautiful (God smiling on egg hunts).  I went down to the Labyrinth and set up the forms looping to the Venus circuit.  A woman named Helen came down and asked if I had found a ceramic heart she had left in a small bag on the boulder where stones were left for the Community circuit.  I told her I had taken it home to figure out a way to install it so that it wouldn't fall out later because it is very thin.  It was a meant as a memorial to her young son who had passed away.  Our conversation was so sweet and tender and one of those moments that makes this project so special.

After that I went to a lovely brunch given by my hosts for their family.  They all came to visit the Labyrinth and then Deborah Cheadle, who I met yesterday came to take me over to the country club to collect stones on the beautiful beaches that surround this exclusive point on the island.  This is an area of stately old homes with marvelous views across a pasture like golf course.  We sat in the sun and picked small colorful stones and visited through the afternoon.  I learned a lot about island history and got to see some fine homes and gardens on this glorious day.  Bainbridge Island is an incredibly beautiful place to live.

Bainbridge Reef by the Country Club
Then I returned and built the loop connecting the Earth circuit to the Venus circuit.  A couple came as it was getting dark, their first visit to the park.  They said they would bring me some stones as their last name is Rockefeller.

The colorful pebbles Deborah and I collected on the beach by the Country Club
I finished the Community circuit when I built the loops in the white northerly direction that connect it to the Venus circuit.  These loops are special in that I incorporated Helen's ceramic heart dedicated to her son.  I set some geodes that belonged to a man who passed away who's name I do not know, and made petals with bits of donated beach glass and ceramic crockery, and stones given to me by a couple who's dog Reilly had just passed away.  I surrounded all of this with special bits of marble I gathered in Greece from the Temples of Dionysos, Demeter, the Delian Apollo, the Temple of Hera on Samos, and the ruins of a Hellenistic house on the island of Paros, and a stone I brought back from Pompeii 4 years ago.  Please tread lightly when you walk on these delicate turns in the path.

Another circuit done, in honor of the incredible planet on which we live.  May we honor it and treat it with love so that it may continue to sustain us.  That is my wish.  Thank you to the people who brought stones and meaningful object used to create it, and thank you for reading my ramblings, Jeffrey