Finding the Green Man In The Wilds Of New York: Artist Interview with Wood Sculptor; Glenn Durlacher
“I used to carve ice, but wood doesn’t melt as quick,” – Glenn Durlacher Wood Sculpture Artist
“Wilderness hides its unnaturalness behind a mask that is all the more beguiling because it seems so natural.” William Cronon
In upstate New York, on the edge of the Adirondacks, lives a man who knows his way around the art and craft of wood sculpting. Glenn Durlacher has been creating masterpieces out of dead wood for decades now. He took time one day to converse with me about his family history, how he got into his craft, and why it means so much to him.
MJ: Hi Glenn! Great to spend time with you! I found your work online, and I find its size and detail incredible.
How long have you been carving wood?
Glenn: I started after working as a chef out of college in Rochester for 30 years. I started ice sculpting as part of that occupation.
MJ: This is amazing. Incredible you can get that dynamic detail out of ice. How did ice turn into wood?
One day I was on a drive to a car show in Saratoga, and I saw some artists carving bears out of wood so I pulled over. They asked me to come back and carve with them and I did. That started me on my career change over the past 20 years as a wood carver. My Aunt was a bit taken aback at my career change. I was 53 years old, but I told her, “I’m big now. I can do what I want! ” (Laughter.)
MJ: I love that. And look at you now with a sculpture garden doing mainly commissions. It’s inspiring!
How long does it take you to carve a stump or a single art piece?
Glenn: Many times I have to travel to the site, because the stumps are in the ground. I can work on one piece for anywhere from two days to two weeks or two months. It depends. Right now I’m working on an angel for a family that lost their little girl. I’ve been working on it already for a few months.
MJ: Seems you were born with this gift. What kind of wood do you prefer to carve?
Glenn: It depends. If it’s a stump I carve whatever that wood is, but I do use a lot of pine.
MJ: How do you transfer the image from a client to the wood?
Glenn: They give me a photo, or drawing or they bring an animal that’s alive (horse or dog, etc.) so I can take images of it. Most of my work is very meaningful, because each carving is unique to the person and it means a great deal to them.
MJ: I can’t think of a more meaningful heirloom than a carved piece that is the replica of a loved animal (or person,) or symbol.
I have been studying the green man for a time, and he is why I reached out to you. Your work with this particular subject is awe inspiring. From my studies, he symbolizes re-birth and renewal and is celebrated often during this time we are in now, of spring blossoms and bountiful growth despite a dark and long winter. He is noted as the masculine half of the feminine Gaia; Mother and Father Earth.
Glenn: I work very closely with the earth and Mother Nature. I won’t carve into a tree that’s alive or cut down a tree that’s alive. I will not carve driftwood either, because it is perfect as it is, as it was made. I can’t reproduce such perfection so why would I try.
I believe strongly that we are all part of nature and mother earth. I revere and honor trees and I am very careful and selective what I choose to carve.
There is a cottonwood on my land, and it is 300 years old at least. I’ve told my friends, if it goes, I go. No joke. Lol.
MJ: Thanks Glenn. Your work is a gift for all who have the chance to receive one.
Glenn specializes in custom stump carving, wildlife and pet sculptures and beam carving.
He drives or ships all over the US. Check him out on Facebook, and on his website.
If you’re in the area of Glens Falls, you can visit his sculpture garden “Glenn Tree Art” Located at 1048 State Route 9 in Queensbury, NY. [i]
Presenting the Poem The Green Man, by Joanne Kavanagh
He runs through the forest, breathing life into all he can
Whispering to the trees, he’s known as the Green Man
Passing on his vibrant energy, to all living things green
Perhaps he’s been near, but you know not what you’ve seen
Maybe the leaves have rustled spontaneously
But no breeze is present, chasing in and out of tree
This will be when he talks, to his woodland friends
Who he wholeheartedly loves, protects and defends
And tells them magical stories, that make their little leaves shiver
In delight and excitement, so that they will deliver
An abundance of new leaves, when Spring comes to the land
The time of awakening and renewal, guided by his expert hand
And if blossoms are required, on a particular tree or plant
A different song he will sing, to everything from toadstool to ant
For all have their part to play, in every green place
Their energies all needed, along with Divine grace
To create an environment, so that the right conditions abound
The flora and fauna, all lending their sounds
In a magical orchestra, of frequencies and notes
All playing the tune, which the Green Man wrote
Then come Summertime, a rainbow manifests
Painting everything in his bright colours,
from petals to birds’ eggs in their nests
And in Autumn he begins, to sing his lullabies
So the leave will fall, and dance beneath the skies
Ready for Winter, when Nature rests in slumber
And all has long since turned,
to shades of dark and umber
A chance for the Green Man, to recharge and reflect
On what new life he will breathe into next
Look beyond the surface, of the realm of the Green Man
To learn more of his work and his Fairy clan. [i]
You can find Joanne on Facebook at The Fairy Wordsmith
“I share my poems daily, often inspired by Fairy Folk, Nature, my son's Nature photography ...and the Fairy that sits on my shoulder and whispers in my ear.”
In Robert Crombie’s book, “Encounters with Nature Spirits,” the author finds himself in communication with Pan, the spirit of nature. Through his life and experiences, he writes a book about his interactions with this “Green Man” of nature known as Pan. He writes, “A reconciliation between humanity and the nature world is required for the survival of the world. It is vital for the future of mankind that belief in nature spirits and their god Pan is re-established and that they are seen in their true light. In spite of the outrages humanity has committed against nature, these beings are only too pleased to help us if we will seek and ask for their cooperation.” [i]
Josephine Livingstone’s article in the New Yorker describes the long march the Green Man has had through time. He does indeed “persist,” and may be needed in our awareness now, more than ever. [ii]
 Durlacher, Glenn. “Glenn Tree Art.” Facebook, 2020, www.facebook.com/pg/glenntreeart/photos/?ref=page_internal.
 Kavanagh, Joanne. “The Fairy Wordsmith.” FAIRY WASHDAY I'll Tell You a Little... - The Fairy Wordsmith, 30 Mar. 2020, 3 pm, www.facebook.com/227587327826899/photos/a.227603041158661/635174040401557/?type=3.
 Crombie, Robert, Encounters with Nature Spirits: Co-Creating with the Elemental Kingdom, by R. Ogilvie Crombie, Findhorn Press, 2018, pp. 37–37.
 Livingstone, Josephine, et al. “The Remarkable Persistence of the Green Man.” The New Yorker, 2016, www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-remarkable-persistence-of-the-green-man.
Transformative Blissful Nature-Based Mindfulness Meditation
"When May is in his prime, then may each heart rejoice;
When May bedecks each branch with green, each bird strains forth his voice.
The lively sap creeps up into the blooming thorn;
The flowers, which cold in prison kept, now laugh the frost to scorn.
All nature's imps triumph whiles joyful May doth last;
When May is gone, of all the year the pleasant time is past."
-Richard Edwardes (1525-1566)
Nature Mindfulness Meditation & Audio Transcription
Ok nature friends. Walk away from Google. Lets go breathe in the smell of pine, cedar, oleander and dry grass!
(Take this moment to gather your compass, camera of choice, knapsack, water and snacks.)
Sit down. (If you’re already in the woods, good on you!)
If you’re home or at work, let us start here.
1 Worst to 10 Best.
Mental Body: Tired from the day? Was it heavy with screen time or problem solving? Assign a number: 1 Worst to 10 Best
Emotional Body: Can you identify a specific emotion and give it a rating? Honor all emotions that arise.
Assign a number overall: 1 Worst to 10 Best
Spiritual Body: Choose a few gratitudes that we can send to thank the earth and nature. Depending on how grateful you are in your present moment; Assign a number overall: 1 Worst to 10 Best
It’s amazing that we have mobility, and the means to access natural spaces.
Alright let us go explore!
(Time Machine Fast Forward To: After Our Time in Nature.)
To round off our experiment; simply take time at the edge of the pond, wood, river or city garden to backtrack through each of your bodies and assess if the ratings (1-10) have improved. Pretty awesome.
Facts About the Benefits of Forest Bathing & Time Spent In Nature
You don’t need to go on a huge camping trip or excursion to benefit from forest bathing. You can walk out your door at home or work and into a park to experience the benefits.
In its simplest description, forest bathing has been found to provide numerous health benefits and it simply requires you spend time in nature (as much as possible.)
Many cities have Meet Up Groups that guide locals through forest bathing experiences.
Forest Bathing is not exercise. It is a slow movement and meandering walking pace. It is more about connecting to the natural world than flying by it. (Silence without headphones is one of the requirements.)
One of the greatest health concerns of the 21st century is that we are spending most of our time indoors staring at screens. In 1984 the term “technostress” was coined to describe the symptoms of too much time interacting with cellphones, computers and watching TVs. (Anxiety, depression, anger, insomnia, and mental fatigue are some of the symptoms.)
-The World Health Organization
A List of Health Benefits:
Decreases anxiety, depression, anger and mood disorders
Increased relaxation and mental clarity
Boosts focus & memory
Relief from the mental drain of everyday life
ADHD (reduction in attention fatigue and other related symptoms)
Faster surgery healing (even seeing trees from a hospital bed resulted in faster recovery times)
Cardiovascular and muscular skeletal health
Decreases fight or flight systems
Decreased migraines and respiratory ailments
Lowers the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline
Enhances the rest and recovery “parasympathetic” systems
Increases creativity and problem solving
Increases gratitude, selflessness and wonder
Health Studies Link
Final Notes Regarding The Wonder Compass Meditative Photography
The articles you will find me posting include nature writing, health and mindfulness, as well as meditative ways to use photography and nature to disconnect from our busy lives and connect creatively to our inner and outer states in the best way we have access to, no matter where we are.
“The Wonder Compass” is not Forest Bathing (it is a way to use photography in collaboration with nature in order to reach blissful states of mindfulness and meditation on a daily basis.)
However, it is important for me to note that “Forest Bathing’s” science is a massive step in realizing how important our health is tied to nature’s health.
Happy Wondering & Adventuring! – Molly Jo
Disclaimer: As an alternative health practice, mindfulness and walking meditations are to be used with discretion. If you have mental health issues, please lean on your therapist to direct you to the right treatments and practices. Be well. Be Safe.
Clifford, M. Amos. Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature. Conari Press, 2018.
Edwardes, R. (2019). May. In J. M. HUNTER (Author), NATURE POEM FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR (p. 201). Place of publication not identified: B T BATSFORD.
Li, Qing. Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness. Thorndike Press, a Part of Gale, a Cengage Company, 2018
Li Q, Morimoto K, Nakadai A, et al. Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2007;20(2 Suppl 2):3‐8. doi:10.1177/03946320070200S202
Meadowlark Audio Provided By: Daniel Simion
All Those Who Wander Are "Not" Lost (When Carrying A Walking Stick)
In every walk with nature,
one receives far more than he seeks.”
– John Muir
(Mindfulness Photography Activity Included***)
There is a rhythm to walking that lends itself to moving meditation. If you carry a stick along, a cadence or metronome effect takes you forward down the road and inward at the same time.
There are many “technical” walking sticks you can choose from. REI calls them; “trekking poles” and “hiking staffs”:
CHOOSE A STAFF
Another way to go is to use a wooden staff, which has an earthy grounding quality that feels right for walking meditation.
Someone left the wooden gem (below) behind in the woods,
and it's light as a feather.
If you’re crafty you can: MAKE A STAFF YOURSELF
WOODEN POLES & STAFFS IN ZEN & FOLKLORE
“With this staff in my hand
I can measure the depths and shallows of the world.
The staff supports the heavens and makes firm the earth.
Everywhere it goes the true teaching will be spread."
“Every Zen master has a staff that he cuts for himself in the mountains. It is about seven feet long. It is a symbol of the master’s status as a mountain steward. The master has cut his staff from wild nature in the wild mountains, which is no different from the essential nature set forth by the Buddha. The master enters the main hall with his staff and at the appropriate moments he thumps the floor with (his staff,) to punctuate the ceremony. The staff in the presence of his teaching and all of the Buddhas before him.” Gateless Barrier
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― Gandalf. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Gandalf & Bilbo Baggins from The Lord of The Rings & The Hobbit on Pinterest
Walking Stick “So Hum” Meditation
Snap Alert!! Grab your camera. Observing, wondering & striding mindfully will allow you to connect deeply in the present.
To begin the “So Hum” meditation; allow one forward stride of the stick assigned to the word (silently) “So,” and breathe in deeply. Allow your next forward stride of the stick with an outward breath of “Hum.” (One step forward for each foot for So and one foot each for Hum.)
Once you have established a decent rhythm and you are centered and relaxed into deep breathing, try to find your mindless space between any thoughts that arise.
Forward stride right then left leg “So,” allowing the stick to take you forward into your right and left leg, “Hum.”
See how long you can stay in the gap of quiet stillness between thoughts. This place can be called the gap of love, silence, peace
and thoughtless ness.
Continue to repeat the powerful mantra, “So Hum” as you stride. Allow a soft gaze all about you. Imagine roots from your feet deep into the soil and roots from your stick into the earth. This will “ground” you and keep you steady.
Wondering what “So Hum” means? “I Am.” Basically “I Am Present or I Am Presence.” This is an effective walking meditation tool to quiet the mind, soak up the green beauty surrounding you and dig deep into the now.
LOCAL HIKE PORTLAND, OR
In the city I live in there is a fantastic book called, “Portland Hill Walks.”
One of the most beautiful, lush and hill packed areas of the city, Washington Park, includes a vast plethora of riches.
The Japanese Garden
The Hoyt Arboretum
The Pittock Mansion
The Oregon Zoo
Washington Park & Zoo Railway
The Children’s Museum
The World Forestry Center
The Rose Garden Children’s Park
All of the features above are close together and definitely hilly. You can circumnavigate them all in one hike.
They all weave through Forest Park, which is one of the largest urban forests in the US at 5200 acres, with 80 miles of trail and forest roads.
Walking Stick Quotes
“The best, the most exquisite, automobile is a walking stick; and one of the finest things in life is going on a journey with it.”
“When you have no companion, look to your walking stick.”
Happy Stick Walking Friends!
Please Follow Me On MEDIUM.COM & Become A Conservation Reader. For Every 10 Followers I Will Donate To Plant One Tree Through The Nature Conservancy. Thank You. As A Writer, Your Help Makes All The Difference!
Malet, L. (2012). Gateless barrier (Case 44). Pa-chiao’s Staff,” p. 266, Hardpress Publishing. (Referenced 5/25/2020) doi:http://www.egreenway.com/taichichuan/stafflore.htm
The Gateless Barrier is generally acknowledged to be the fundamental koan collection in the literature of Zen. Gathered together by Wu-men (Mumon), a thirteenth-century master of the Lin-chi (Rinzai) school, it is composed of forty-eight koans, or cases, each accompanied by a brief comment and poem by Wu-men.
Hikers Image Above Left: Ulla Thynell Artist
5 Definitions of Mindfulness That Will Get You Off The Mat
"Anchoring awareness through sight by capturing photographs throughout the day allows for a constant flow
of grounded creation to occur in the present." - Molly Jo;
Wonder Compass Author
In Eric Harrison's book, The Foundations of Mindfulness, the author states that despite our notions that meditation is a seated practice, the Buddha stated otherwise. In the Sutta, the Buddha describes how meditation is also done while standing, sitting, lying down and walking (Harrison 2-3).
It is a state of living consciously and awake to all moments of life through awareness of what the senses are communicating to you.
Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as, ‘The awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” (Kabat-Zinn et al.)
Thich Nhat Hanh defines “Mindfulness” as, “The miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.” (Nhat Hanh, 14).
The Oxford Dictionary Definition of “Mindfulness:”
“A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.”
Mary Oliver made the act of deeply observing her life’s work:
“To Pay Attention,
That Is Our Endless And Proper Work.”
The simplicity and accessibility of Mindfulness is its ability for us to simply & divinely Be; All the parts of your day.
If you are a photographer, allow your camera to root you deeply into the beauty that is always surrounding you. Always.
An Irish Blessing from Northwest Oregon for All Readers
"May your spring blossoms bloom
covering violet garden beds
May sonorous songbirds
serenade rapturously overhead"
Hạnh Nhất, and Mobi Ho. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation. Beacon Press, 2016.
Harrison, Eric. The Foundations of Mindfulness. Perth Meditation Centre, 2015.
Mindful.org: Kabat-Zinn, Jon, et al. “Jon Kabat-Zinn: Defining Mindfulness.” Mindful, 11 Jan. 2019, www.mindful.org/jon-kabat-zinn-defining-mindfulness/. (Accessed 5/21/2020)
“Mindfulness: Meaning of Mindfulness by Lexico.” Lexico Dictionaries | English, Lexico Dictionaries, www.lexico.com/definition/mindfulness.
The Miracle of Rhododendrons In Spring