Camouflage

Yesterday I paddled a kayak down the Edisto River for ten miles. Another pearl in my string of rivers. It was warm and bright, and bits of green,  gold and pink showed up on winter branches of  river birch and red maple. Kayaking the Edisto’s black water is intriguing. The swamps and wetlands it feeds are mysterious and had me  constructing paintings in my head. For hours I stared hard at every turn, every overhanging tree and woody structure, searching for ideas for new work. It’s a practice that imitates life. The river’s current carries me so fast I can’t …

Grier

  Sixty years ago today my oldest friend was born.  Hurd Grier Bradford, III.  I was little and don’t remember much beyond slipping into my parents’ bedroom to sneak a peak at the baby and being scolded for waking him.  We were both curly tow-heads and at first we were each other’s only playmates.  I remember when we had matching seersucker shorts, and we both stood in the middle of the bench seat of the Chevy, side by side and I claimed we were twins.  I really wanted us to be twins. Even as a baby Grier was independent, self-determined …

Inheritance

I am writing this on an empty beach at 7:30 in the morning the week before Thanksgiving,while camping on a barrier island that’s a 45 minute ferry ride off the coast of Georgia.  This is the most undisturbed spit of coastal land I’ve had the privilege to experience in the United States of America.  I can’t remember ever being in a place where there were thousands of acres of  200-500 year old live oaks, miles of palms and long leaf pines, no pavement, hardly any infrastructure and so little humanity. On foot this island seems vast.  Even with the aid …

The Return of the Moving Poets

  One of my best buddies, Peg, and I go way back as Moving Poets fans.  We were there at their last performance before they moved to Berlin.  We bought the tee shirts.  I’m very careful with that tee shirt.  It’s for special occasions only.  I love it because it fits just right and everywhere I go my shirt is saying  “BE CURIOUS”, the Poets’ mantra.  When we got the news that they were planning a Charlotte performance we rushed to get our tickets.   Last night we sat next to one another in the lovely Blumenthal waiting for the …

North Carolina Summer

This has been my North Carolina summer.  Too busy to plan anything more complicated I have gone back and forth between the mountains and the coast soaking up my favorite part of the year. I could live in perpetual summer, and look askance at all those people who tell me they can’t wait for fall.  It’s the light, I think.  I like the bald bright warmth of it that illuminates all corners, but also makes for overwhelming experiences of  shadow.  I like the light when I’m floating on my back in the pool and looking up at the untroubled sky.  …

Unfiltered

This past week I went backpacking with two old friends who kindly agreed, some time ago, to teach me the skills I need to survive.  It was my second real backpacking trip and it sounded a bit daunting… 30 miles of trails, 10 waterfalls, with predicted temperatures under 65 and a 50% chance of rain.  Projecting into the future I imagined  being winded and overloaded, cold and wet.  I was telling a friend that it would be strenuous and tough and he asked me a great question:  why do this if it’s not fun?  I tried to explain that the goal …

The Creative Life

When I was growing up, in Huntersville, North Carolina, the kids in the neighborhood all claimed one treehouse. It was actually maybe three boards, nailed across a forked Sycamore branch hanging parallel to the ground. The host tree was immense and beautiful with its outsized leaves and white skin. We would collect there, suspended over the creek that threaded through our neighborhood,  known as “the Pasture” because that was what it had been. Back then I was transfixed by the movie Swiss Family Robinson — mostly because of the house they fashioned in a tree. I loved the family’s ingenuity …

River Mud

It’s been a quiet summer. My only thoughts have been of work and essential chores. I made no plans to travel, and confined myself to home. The most vivid moments I remember were sitting outside looking across the pasture at dusk. My work has seemed halting and has fought me every day. In my isolation I made abstractions out of my relationships and pushed those abstractions away both in my mind, and by my actions. I knew I was temporarily lost but would find myself again. I even knew how to find myself, and yet chose not to. Perhaps sometimes …