Of cats and fish and stone and the passing of time

Todd Braun is a Manitoba stone sculptor and gardener. His beautiful stone art can be found in many locations throughout the province, in private gardens and public spaces. Todd owes his gardening prowess to his mother, Gail, a wonderful gardener in her own right.

~ Dorothy

 By Todd Braun

The old saying, “change is the only constant in life” has been especially true here at Elemental Stone lately. Lisa sustained a nasty break of her right ankle mid last December. Remember all the ice? So, since last December, Lisa has been confined to a wheelchair or an at home hospital bed and will be there for at least another month. Hopefully she’ll be able to start putting weight on her right leg in a month or so.

On Jan. 7, 2015, my dad passed away. Dad had been ill for some time so his passing wasn’t unexpected. However, losing a parent is one of the larger events in the life cycle. For many of us, “Dad” can be a larger-than-life person, at least that was the case in my experience.

When I was a kid, dad told me, “Live like today is your last day and plan like you’ll live forever.” I’ve often thought of that and when I look around this place I can see some of his philosophy rubbed off on me. The message I got and the example I witnessed was, “Do what you love and believe in with all your heart.” The Sufi poet, Rumi, said something like, “Let the beauty you love be what you do.” I’ve always liked that saying and I think my dad could relate to that thought, as well.

So, it’s been a time of contemplation and reflection. With that in mind I included some pics from a few years back: water lily, Nicotiana sylvestris and Uncle John’s hollyhocks. People often ask me about the big gate at the back of the house, so I included a picture of loading the lintel and the long granite bridge. This depicts the arrival of the south pillar of the west gate, in 2006; exciting times.

Cat and fish news





In Cat news, the Elemental cats are doing well, not overly impressed with the recent cold snap but happy to be spending these cold days in the workshop. Two weeks ago, Wilma and Banjo, our two spoiled house cats, welcomed (with partially open arms) two new arrivals – four-plus-month-old Kazoo and one-year-old Cash. Both cats are rescue cats and both are part Siamese. I have a weakness for Siamese cats.

The fish are longing for their summer pond; April isn’t too far away. Banjo the cat must have some fisherman’s blood in him. One of his favorite pastimes is watching the fish in their big tank in the basement. Banjo has fallen “SPLASH” into the fish tank a dozen times by now. I thought the first time he fell in would be the last but, like a true fisherman, Banjo’s not afraid to get a little wet from time to time… and it makes the fish laugh.

When stone is fish or fish is stone . . .

Fish 4

Fish 4

Speaking of fish, I just finished my fourth small fish sculpture.

Sometimes I think of the thousands of worked stones I’ve left behind in my lifetime. I wonder what will be become of them when I’m no longer here. The big fish I made a couple years ago was inspired by ancient Egyptian fish-shaped vessels. Maybe in 1,000 years someone will dig up one of my stones and wonder about our time. Will anyone in the future be inspired by what is being created today? I’d like to think it’s possible.

I suppose the inspiring artifacts of tomorrow will be the objects created today. Like the ancient Egyptian craftsman who made the beautiful stone fish – an object of beauty in it’s time that endured long enough to inspire me today.

Inspired by stone
I’ve had a lifelong fascination with stone work and artifacts of the past. In some way, I sense what I do is a continuation of that ancient tradition. Stone is one of the few materials that can span lifetimes.

Local stone fashioned by local hands uniquely define a region. In the day when transporting stone was more difficult than today, entire towns were built of local stone giving the appearance of the buildings growing out of the land itself. This concept is more familiar in the Old World but I also see it closer to home – like the beautiful old fieldstone buildings in Morden, MB.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the tools on a more regular basis soon, the lengthening days. This winter hasn’t been as productive (stone wise) as I’d hoped three months ago. I have several unfinished pieces from last year that I hope to complete soon. Now (before the spring rush) is a good time to talk if you have something in mind for 2015. We had several semi loads of granite blocks and boulders hauled here last fall, so the selection is pretty good and, of course, if I don’t have the right stone on hand now, I’m always getting more once spring arrives.

We are starting to think of plants and what we’ll be doing for garden tours. I’ve already placed my first order for unusual plants.


Todd, Lisa and the cats

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