Hibernation and Transformation

Moldy gourds drying outside
Photography copyright © Serena Kovalosky

Fall is a prelude to hibernation for many animals, myself included. Although for many it is a time for gearing up for the holidays, I always find the annual “Thanksgiving – Christmas – New Year’s” bustle to be counter-intuitive to my natural rhythm, which wants to slow down in preparation for “a long winter’s nap.” While others are shopping and gathering at parties and preparing great feasts, I am preparing for a winter of creative hibernation.

My small harvest of gourds (only two!) that I had left in the basement to dry in the fall developed an impressive fuzzy mold by Christmas. They are already beginning to look otherworldly. They, too, have entered into deep hibernation.

I decided to take them outside to continue their voyage of transformation. They were still quite heavy and have much more drying to do.

After a few rainstorms, the fuzzy mold was washed away and the gourds were transformed into ethereal planets from another galaxy.

Gourd with Yellow Mold
Photography copyright © Serena Kovalosky

I am documenting these stages of the drying process because these breathtaking colors are only transitory. I wish I could find a way to stop the process and keep them just like this.

A hearty snow finally arrived in January and the gourds disappeared under a thick, white blanket to continue their hibernation and transformation.

Gourds under snow.
Photography copyright © Serena Kovalosky

By now, I am in complete hibernation mode as well. The holidays are over as I retreat into the peace and quiet of my studio, far from the chatter and obligation of social gatherings. My civilized self can now rest as my wild nature is allowed free reign. This is deep creative time.To the outside world, it looks like I’m “taking a break” but in reality there is much activity beneath the surface.

By the end of February the snow had briefly melted, revealing the gourds’ continued transformation. I pick one up carefully to check for moisture by assessing its weight.

Gourd drying.
Photography copyright © Serena Kovalosky

Success! It was light as a feather. The gourds have dried perfectly! Like butterflies, they emerge from their hibernation different, stronger, even more beautiful.

I will leave them outside until spring and their outer layer has completely fallen away. I have big plans for them. And for me, too.

SerenaK signature

And Now for the Science…

Bushel Gourd (Lagenaria siceraria). Lagenaria is a genus of gourd-bearing vines in the squash family (Cucurbitaceae). Native to Asia, and later – Africa.
Sources: American Gourd Society, Wikipedia

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