Author, Host of the Wellspring Podcast and and founder of The Wild Nellies, Gwen Tuinman’s talents run deep - she’s a connector, an historian and a passionate barefoot gardener who introduced me to permaculture, urban homesteading and garlic scapes (yummy!!). She’s an overflowing well of collaborative ideas, resourcefulness and heart-centered purpose. Her upcoming Wild Nellies event ‘A Celebration of Women’ is evidence of how she continues to channel the growing potential of art to uplift, empower and raise consciousness for women and through women.
My recent portrait session with Gwen was a calmly flowing afternoon of indoor and out, and exchange of ideas and sharing of visions. She was a calm breeze during a time of whirlwind here at the schoolhouse and I was so grateful for it! These are a few of my favourite portraits and two pieces of Gwen’s written work, Confectionery Courtship and an excerpt from The Millpond. You can find more about Gwen at www.gwentuinman.com and hear her read at the upcoming Wild Nellies Event.
Gwen Tuinman, 2018
Miss Eliza May never met a candy she didn’t like, a child she couldn’t love, or a man she’d like to marry. For years, she flourished alone in her childhood home, fueled by memories and romantic optimism.
In her youth, suitors peacocked through her parlour, bearing lavish gifts - lace fans, a velocipede, a talking parrot. After each performance, she rose from the horsehair sofa exclaiming, “I must decline your offer of matrimony.”
When gentlemen stopped calling, Eliza converted the parlour into a confectionery shop. She mounded homemade sweets on silver trays - butterscotch, maple fudge, candied apples, and lemon drops. Eliza welcomed children in pairs. More than two at once constituted a crowd, she thought, and diminished meaningful conversation.
Boys and girls waited in a daily queue that stretched from the porch steps to the sidewalk. One day a stranger joined their ranks; a greyheaded man whose eyes shone with adoration. When his turn came, he stepped into the parlour and waited for Eliza to speak.
“What have you to offer?” she inquired.
“Only myself.” He laid a hand over his heart.
“I do,” announced Miss Eliza May.
“I haven’t asked,” he replied.
Gwen in the bee garden, 2018
The day’s light is ending and
I am following a stream
Of maple, birch and cedar
Where branches of black lace
Press against the silver sky.
Notes of burning wood
Rise from some distant hearth and
Carry forward on crisp November air to
Multiply my sorrow.
The night breathes frost into my lungs;
My exhale is a plume of certainty
Swallowed by a darkening sky.
Skirts sweep over hard packed ground.
Granite protrusions and gnarled roots
Lead me through soft pines to the
Edge of the millpond --
Its water, the colour of widows’ weeds with a
Shine like polished boots; its surface
Calm as the heart in my bosom,
Wrapped in my man’s wool coat.
Islands of gossamer spread across
The millpond’s surface,
Translucent moths lying
Wing tip to wing tip.
Snow plummets in feathery clumps and
Spreads like milk
Spilling from a pail.
Handfuls of goose down
Light on pine boughs and
On my face, like kisses of condolence.