Field Notes from the Red Oak Labyrinth

Deep gratitude to all those many many folks who visited Beyond the Edge:Artists Gardens this summer in Ottawa. A special thanks to those who left ” Oak Inspired Thoughts” in the notebooks. They inspired me and confirmed for me in more ways than I could have imagined, the mysterious ways of the labyrinth.

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All decked out for summer in a cloak of greenery.
All decked out for summer in a cloak of greenery.

 

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View from the centre on a sunny morning.
View from the centre on a sunny morning.

 

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Circles within circles, all welcoming.
Circles within circles, all welcoming.


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Patterns left in the inner bark from the Emeral Ash Borer. Beautiful but devastating at the same time.
Patterns left in the inner bark from the Emeral Ash Borer. Beautiful but devastating at the same time.

 

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Misty morning in late summer.
Misty morning in late summer.

 

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Essentics in the Labyrinth. Thanks Amanda!
Essentics in the Labyrinth. Thanks Amanda!

 

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Red Oak
Red Oak

 

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Arial View of the Red Oak Labyinth. Thanks to Dinesh Amamdavel and his drone photography.
Aerial View of the Red Oak Labyinth. Thanks to Dinesh Amamdavel and his drone photography.

 

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We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council,

an Agency of the Government of Ontario

2014 OAC Logo Colour JPG


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Summer Solstice Labyrinth

I don’t know of an actual connection between the labyrinth and the solstice, but in my event planning with colleagues it often comes up as a question. During the construction of the Red Oak Labyrinth I realized the Summer Solstice would occur just before the opening of the project. The labyrinth beneath a grand old oak was ready and it seemed an opportunity not to be missed. So we connected the dots and it felt natural to create a ceremony offering blessings to the tree and to the very earth that supports and sustains us all, as we welcomed summer.

Among my colleagues is a group of very fine music therapists. They formed the core and provided musical leadership for a group of women singers. Together, 12 women all dressed in white circled round the labyrinth before splitting into groups at the cardinal points of the labyrinth. Using the medieval song “Summer Is Icumen In” (medieval English of the mid- 13th century) which translates to “Summer Has Come In” as a base for their musical offering, they improvised and toned around the melody.

Singers dressed in white  processing around the labyirnth.
Singers dressed in white processing around the labyirnth.

People came with small bouquets of flowers to offer and placed them along the central ring of the labyrinth. I would not want to say just what was going on for the folks who came but a few photos, given with permission sum up the profound feeling of the evening.

Flower offering.
An offering of flowers.
Green Lady
Green Lady

There was also a visit by the “Green Lady” who may not be much talked about in the pages of history books but who was very much alive in our presence that evening. She danced her way around the great circle of the labyrinth, playing out the story of the cycle of life; from seed, to sprout, to fruit, and then death and decay only to rise again the following season. I have a particular fondness for the story of the Green Man and look for representations of him on my travels and indeed it inspires my work as a Horticultural Therapist.

May wine was enjoyed as the sun set on a perfect evening.
May wine was enjoyed as the sun set on a perfect evening.

The evening of the first day of summer was perfect, as is hinted at in the photos. As the sun set we raised a glass of  “May Wine” an ancient German recipe that blends Riesling scented with Sweet Woodruff from my garden to welcome in the summer. What a perfectly sweet evening, one that I will long remember. Thank you to my musical friends and the Green Lady and all those who came to grace this place and recognize its specialness.

A meditation in the moment.
Meditation in the moment.

 

We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council,

an Agency of the Government of Ontario

2014 OAC Logo Colour JPG