By Mary Wanser
The Resident Community News Group, Inc.
View the Article @ the Resident
Many might recognize Danielle and Ian Cleary from Riverside Arts Market or as the local artists who paint murals around town. They are known for their creative brushstrokes. But they have green thumbs and free spirits as well.
The Clearys are avid gardeners. They grow edibles—squash, tomatoes, onions. They also have three loquat trees, three avocado trees, and an elderberry bush in their yard. They are raising these crops in Avondale. And there they raise children, too.
Danielle has a son, Dee. Together, she and Ian have a daughter, Oceana, and they are expecting a third child in December.
The Clearys are into the local scene. “We love the parks,” Ian said. They can often be found at Boone Park in Avondale or Memorial Park in Riverside. They contributed toward the tree planting at Willowbranch. Danielle, a third generation native of Jacksonville, and Ian, Mississippi-born, do not let city or state boundaries stop them though.
“When we are not home tending to all of our beings, we like to travel,” Danielle said. Every summer, sometimes with the children’s friends tagging along, the family floats down the spring-fed river at Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Fort White.
When Danielle was 30 weeks pregnant with their daughter, she had a dream that she had given birth on the Hawaiian island of Kauai; so, she and Ian went on a birth journey. They sold all of their possessions and moved there for a time. “I had no doula, no clue what I was doing. And every single piece of the puzzle was supported. We had a beautiful, all-natural birth,” Danielle said. The couple relied on the Universe to provide everything they needed. They lived in various places when they arrived and were even homeless up until five days before Oceana was born. Danielle began having contractions on a friend’s couch. “I feel like Mary and Joseph looking for a stable. This is crazy,” Danielle had told Ian at the time. It was a testament of trust, though there were scary moments along the way.
Danielle and Ian value family togetherness, but they also appreciate individual time apart. “We think it’s really important to have ourselves and each other. That’s important to our personal and our couple goals,” Danielle said.
When Oceana was a baby and still breastfeeding, Danielle took her on a spiritual journey. They lived for two months at The Hostel in the Forest in Brunswick, Georgia while Ian and Dee stayed home. The Hostel is a retreat environment with huts and treehouses and composting toilets, a place where electronics are off limits. There, it was easy for Danielle to get in tune with nature.
Last spring, Ian took a trip to Arizona. “For me, it was a voyage of self-discovery,” he said. It was the first trip he’d taken without Danielle since the two met and started making art together six years ago. He travelled with a group of guys who were filming a music video for local musician Kyle Piety a/k/a Bit Deff. After filming, Ian and Kyle left the group and went to nearby Sedona, a world-renowned healing spot of vortexes. There, Ian met a medicine woman and a Native American elder.
Danielle and Ian Cleary are truly an eclectic couple, a blend of hometown values and free-spirited adventure.