The Gift From Our Fathers

    It was all black mirror water, jade green duckweed and pearl gray leafless trees. A soft gray day. We arrived at the millpond in northeastern North Carolina, with our food, water and canoes last week and set out paddling to our campsite on a hillside covered in beeches and poplars. There were thousands of saplings among the larger trees— so many that the woods were the color of a dove.   Our first night was chilly and we built a fire. Because we hauled our gear in a canoe instead of on our backs, we were able to …

Real Florida

  My winter exploring took me, this year, to Florida. It’s amazing that I allowed 40 years to pass between visits to that magical place. We set the goal of visiting the “real” Florida, skipping all the major cities, and focusing on the natural beauty and history. I’ve been yearning to see the Everglades as I have grown older and sunk deeper into my fascination with wild untameable places. I wanted to camp in it, and travel into it in a kayak. I wanted to sit quietly and watch it unfold. We chose Flamingo campground as a destination, where we …

Exploring the far east

With my wanderlust friends I set out this past week for the great alluvial plain that is eastern North Carolina.  I hesitate to talk much about its mystery, authenticity, history and lavish southernness for fear of its discovery. We all departed at different times in our various trucks hauling our camping gear and kayaks.  Our destination was Goose Creek State Park.  We met up in a  tall forest of  pines and hardwoods on a peninsula in the vicinity of the Pamlico Sound, and set up camps. One day it had been balmy and the next it was the knife edge …

Moving Poets: From the Depths

Mark this week.  It is one of the rare weeks in a year’s calendar when the Moving Poets are all here and performing. As a devoted fan, I found myself a third row seat in the Booth Playhouse last night so I could hear the feet pounding on the stage and the heavy breathing of dancers at the end of a movement. I wanted it all.  My only regret– sometimes it’s fun to watch from on high in the Booth so one can observe the musicians as well. With Moving Poets one expects the unexpected. “De Profundis” is a piece …

The Color of Grace

Curled up on the sofa after a hot bath I’m very happy to be home. For the past three days I’ve been camping in the wilderness near Lost Cove Creek with my two backpacking mentors, Dick and Jim. There was nothing new about the plans– same plans, same food, same equipment. But it was new territory for us, and the trails were largely unmarked.  Dick estimates that we ascended 2000 feet, slow-going with loaded packs. Ascending, my face was close to the ground, and I became mesmerized by the beauty of mosses, lichens and  fallen leaves. The hickory leaves were …

Absorbing the Sea

For the weeks arching from summer into fall I have watched the sea all day long. And at night the doors were always open to the sound of it. By day the sea was the view from the studio, or from whatever restaurant I chose, or from the windows of the car.  I have looked so long, unable to look away, that it has been fully absorbed. Two nights ago, in the rain, through the murky window of a ferry close to land, I saw birds as they flew nearby, their wide breasts like the bodies of ducks. In my …

Road Trip

So far, on Skopelos I have traveled almost exclusively on foot.  It’s given me a chance to observe the plant life, the shrines in front of people’s houses, and the litter.  The plant life has been interesting.  Tiny cyclamen are popping up on banks everywhere and it is just now blackberry season in Greece.  I stop often to partake.  Much of what grows on Skopelos seems to be edible.  The road sides are thick with the anise-flavored weed that looks like dill.  A Skopelitan told me it is wild fennel.   There are huge fig trees with trunks like oak …

Layers

Last evening I walked down into the village to shop for groceries.  Coming back I took a different route and found myself climbing a set of stairs so steep they terrified me.  On the right was only ocean.  They were, I realized, the steps of the ancient fortress that used to guard the town.  They ascended past dozens of little homes, tucked seamlessly into the fortress walls.   I wasn’t sure if the dwellings were as old as the fortress, or just another layer of history tacked on top of the original. Reading later I discovered that the site was originally …

Negative space

Today my new eight year old existential friend paid me a studio visit.  She carried on a lively conversation, told  a few jokes, and then, very seriously asked   “so, how is your life?”  It gave me a moment’s pause.  I answered her with the seriousness the question deserved.  I told her “my life is joyous”.  End of discussion. The day before she had told me that being in her new third grade classroom felt like “being in another world”.  I guess, when you grow up with the Aegean as your background you think in those terms.  As an artist I’m …

What to pack?

The moon is coming up behind the mountains as we unpack the car.  I have just arrived on the island of Skopelos from Athens, Greece for an artist’s residency.  My boat has been met by the very hospitable people who are making this possible, including the owners of the pension where I have a little apartment.  I can hardly make polite conversation for staring at the  sight of the moon, caught in a little crease between two mountains, because it is tomato red.  Blood red.  A red glaze over an orange fire.  It’s the second day after the so-called Super …