paul howe

spending time since 1987
Art should perform for us. It should do work. It should be knit into the wool of our everyday corporeal and psychological experience. Let all artifice be richly worked with passionate hands and minds. Let it start arguments and bring lovers together - what's the difference? - only the energy counts. Let art inflame and stir and move through hands and minds infectiously. Let it be in the way, and let it be the way. Make it, do it, share it. Above all, please, DO NOT SAVE TIME. What are we saving time for? Spend it all. Tell your friends. 
Spring 2015. Franconia Sculpture Park. Franconia, MN


The Birds That Put the Fires Out

    I had been making fires in my stove when I really didn't need to be. Spring has been steadily gaining momentum and the nights have grown noisy with frogs. Birds have been appearing in droves, and the grass turned green after one rainy night.
    Returning to my shack, out of habit, I bent to make a fire. I opened the door to the stove and immediately sensed that something was amiss, and before I could grasp the aberration a bluebird zipped out of the stove's firebox inches from my face. The bird sought higher elevations at once and circled the ceiling, the corners of the room, and the loft, not accustomed to the confined space and clumsily pushing itself into everything with mad flaps of its wings, taking anxious pauses where it could find purchase on a piece of wood. I opened all the doors and windows and removed their screens. I didn't really know what to do aside from that. I tried in vain for a few minutes to corral the bird towards an exit, but I only succeeded in stressing the bird out more, it thinking only to keep as far away from me as possible, and not to find an exit. It probably didn't understand the meaning of its being “trapped” and so it could not think to “escape.” By the time I realized this the bird was panting hard and fast under its feathers, perched on a garment peg, never taking one of its eyes off of me. We exchanged still stares for a full minute, sizing each other up. I decided that I best just leave it alone and mind my business. It will find its own way out
    So I bent again to make my fire, this time sensing nothing amiss inside the stove, my back turned to the perched bird but my attention keyed to any movement it might make. I quickly had live flames in the firebox and was preparing to have a seat and watch the fire when the sounds of a struggling bird came from inside the stove. There is another bluebird. It is in the stove. Judging the flames, saving the bird seemed hopeless, and I wished it a quick death. I had to look though, and when I did, I had to try something. Maybe the situation wasn't as hopeless as I had first thought. I gave the flames a sharp blow of air and jostled the kindling, and the flames turned off. The bird was pressed flat against the back corner of the stove furthest from the smoldering wood, motionless. I thought it was dead, and I gently poked it with the end of a broomstick which got it blinking and moving. It was still hot inside the stove, so I grew firmer with the bird, slipping the broomstick behind it and pulling it towards the open door. It made its escape in a brave dash, and proceeded to do exactly as the first bird did all around the room.
    I finally sat back into my chair, and I sighed. Two bluebirds
    One finally found its way out of the open dormer window after much futile flying and more anxious resting, and the second was not long to go after it out of the open front door. If the birds are looking for places to nest, you don't need to make fires anymore.