2014 Terrarium

Terrarium

The South Fork Broad River raged after Friday’s deluge. At dusk, a thick fog settled on the water and submerged rock outcrops (usually dotted with families and hikers) below Watson Mill’s covered bridge. The moss above grew on a slick granite slab along the bank. Click here for more from the historic area.

The glass container was a gift from a student, so the first terrarium of 2014 (inspected by Mogwai) will enjoy a spot in the window of our classroom. More moss terrariums are here.

“Deer trail becomes Indian trail becomes county road becomes interstate.”

General Orders No. 9 is a title as peculiar as the smoking rabbit staring back from the top shelf of new releases at Vision Video.  The lone copy has neither synopsis, nor cast list.  One of three young clerks says he’s seen it, and recommends watching under the influence of cough syrup.  Below the kid’s ironic Dali ‘stache comes a vague description, “…really, really, really long shots of a river, and some kind of an environmental message.”  He doesn’t have to say another word.

In a 2011 interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Robert Pearsons succinctly describes the award-winning General Orders No. 9 as “a balance of visuals, voice and music.”  The Middle Georgia native never went to film school, and his haunting debut was 11 years in the making.

According to the film’s website, it’s “an experimental documentary that contemplates the signs of loss and change in the American South as potent metaphors of personal and collective destiny.”

Metaphysical cartography inspired by mappae mundi mixes with juxtaposed shots of urban blight and bucolic rural landscapes, inciting difficult questions, while roads and highways sweep over land like a cancer.

Pearson’s influences include, among others, the writings of William Bartram, and storied film directors Herzog, Tarkovsky, and David Lynch.  William Davidson’s soft-spoken narration in a deep drawl morphs from historical accounts of early colonization over animated county maps, to trance-like ruminations on human dominion over the natural world.  View the official trailer here.

Mindful of the Ocoee

Around 3:30, the Ocoee recedes over the course of a couple hours as the Tennessee Valley Authority’s dam no. 3 diverts millions of gallons of water from a four mile stretch engineered in 1996 for “the world’s first Olympic whitewater event on a natural river” (USDA Forest Service).  This isn’t what they had in mind.

Displaced Pairing

The small dendritic heap’s former home was a sandy path winding through pirate, French Huguenot, and Confederate soldier graves in the Oak Grove Cemetery.

In our classroom, kids can’t resist the urge to touch and squeeze succulent leaves.  Now and then I’ll get a worried glance from a curious student who accidentally bumped leaf from stem, but the experience becomes favorably memorable when they discover a displaced life slowly taking root from a harmless accident.

Click here for more posts featuring Spanish moss and other peculiar epiphytes.

2012 Miniature Space Odyssey

Slinkachu meets Arthur C. Clarke in this (belated) DIY Valentines Day gift.

“Monoliths are fictional advanced machines built by an unseen extraterrestrial species that appear in Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey series of novels and films. During the series, three monoliths are discovered in the solar system by humans and it is revealed that thousands if not more were created throughout the solar system, although none are seen. The subsequent response of the characters to their discovery drives the plot of the series. It also influences the fictional history of the series, particularly by encouraging humankind to progress with technological development and space travel.

The first monolith appears in the beginning of the story, set in prehistoric times. It is discovered by a group of hominids, and somehow triggers a considerable shift in evolution, starting with the ability to use tools.” (read more on Wikipedia)

Mica, Moss, Tiny Ghosts, and Ground Lava

The second batch of terrariums is small but curious.  Bottom-up, the layers include stones from the South Fork River near Watson Mill State Park, activated charcoal (to absorb toxins, filter air and water, and stem the growth of mold/mildew), Pacific Northwest sphagnum moss, soil from the backyard, and Hawaiian black sand. The moss was harvested from rock outcrops near Watson Mill.

According to gastateparks.org, “Watson Mill State Park contains the longest covered bridge in the state, spanning 229 feet across the South Fork River. Built in 1885 by Washington (W.W.) King, son of freed slave and famous covered-bridge builder Horace King, the bridge is supported by a town lattice truss system held firmly together with wooden pins.  At one time, Georgia had more than 200 covered bridges; today, less than 20 remain.”

Students love touching the resident succulents in the window, so there’s never a shortage of ghost and jade bits sprouting desperate stolons seeking water.

The shard of mica was pulled from a red clay hillside in Winterville.

Moss Terrariums

This first go at moss terrariums follows a tutorial by a Brooklyn based terrarium store.  Inspired, I hiked along a stretch of railroad that runs through Whitehall Forest, harvesting verdant rugs, small chunks of pink and greyscale granite,  and parched epiphytic aliens.

The simple tutorial fails to include instructions and tips for anyone interested in creating lasting enclosed microenvironments.  After a week, the apothecary terrarium above is growing a white, moldy beard from the sphagnum layer.  While troubleshooting, I discovered some comprehensive websites dedicated to the natural art beyond home decor trends.  These are the best so far:

The Fern and Mossery

The Terrarium Man

The next batch will include a layer of activated charcoal to absorb any toxins, cleanse the water as it travels up and down, and (hopefully) stem mold growth.

Inspired By Space Invader

Inspired by the French street artist Space Invader, these are what’s left of a series featuring a character from a children’s book I wrote in college.  It’s a Taoist story of  “Murky,” a raindrop afraid of the ultimate splash.  The tale consists of 16 haiku poems, with simple illustrations.

Mr. Carrot (confined to a kitchen wall) never meets murky.