January 2nd, 2010 § § permalink
One of many full moon paintings inspired by this place. This one: "Full Moon with Cedars" 2005
It’s a new day in a new year, beginning a new decade. I’m grateful for that. We talked today, at Kim and Grier’s table, over blackeyed peas and collard greens, about how we all, in our own ways, managed to miss the clock turning over. But I think we all felt keenly this invitation to newness and change.
I marked the close of last year by writing out my intentions for the coming year. This is much more productive than making resolutions. I’m bad at resolution-keeping. But if I name an intention it rides around in my unconscious all the time, and often has a way of making itself reality. Looking at last year’s intentions, they seemed a bit vague, though I did notice that most of them had happened. This year’s are very concrete. I celebrated them with a brandy and dark chocolates that Carla had brought me. Then I called Rodney– my friend since college days, and we tripped over one another’s sentences, talking for an hour about past, present and future.
This morning, to celebrate the newness, I could only think of taking a walk back into the woods. Lacking tractors and chainsaws I often resort to third world techniques for getting a job done. With my machete, bought in Central America for $1.50, and sharpened by my sons, I cut the briars out of my path, finding my way to the back of my little farm. It was warm and the woods were a hundred soft grays. All the recent rain had made the mosses brilliant and lush. I found a little spring-fed creek I’d never seen before. After lunch I could only think to go back to the woods. This time I brought back a sapling that had fallen and developed beautiful lichens. Tonight, on this first night of the new year I noticed it took darkness a little longer to arrive, and when it did the white disk of the moon rose slowly up behind the bare branched trees as it has hundreds of times in my life here. It was so beautiful it brought tears along with thoughts of dear friends scattered and far away, and my never-ending deep gratitude for this earthly home.
September 28th, 2009 § § permalink
tree trunk in the maritime forest
It’s Monday back in the real world. I’m attempting to pretend I’m all here, but I still have one foot on an island. Yesterday’s sunrise, which seems a continent away and a month behind me, was a battle between blackened hovering clouds and peach colored light thrown at the edges of billowing cloud formations. It came and went, shifting back and forth. I sat in the sand and tried to paint a seized moment here and an arrested cloud there. Sand blew low and hard, needle-pricking me. It completely filled my paintbox and scattered itself on my page. My brush, new and sharp-pointed- became frayed and full of sand particles. My hair blew so hard across my face I couldn’t see. The waves tossed spray high above the horizon line. A heron flew overhead. Then a peregrin falcon. It was altogether a spectacular and peculiar sunrise.
The night before, at dusk, we had traveled to a roosting site, hidden away from the public, to watch perhaps one hundred or more egrets and ibises rocking up and down on tree limbs suspended over a perfect mirror of a pond. The mosquitoes lit on our faces and arms and drew blood in spite of toxic doses of bug spray we’d bathed in.
Part of that day had been spent in the maritime forest, learning about plant species. The woods were scattered with deadwood more extreme than any sculpture. We were irresistably drawn to touch it and photograph it from every angle. Yesterday morning we took a walk in the marsh and sat long enough on an ancient dune, now covered with cabbage palms and live oaks ( called a hammock), to observe the behavior of fiddler crabs. I had time enough to do a lightning fast sketch of the underbrush on the hammock. I learned new words for the plants and creatures that fill the marshes– spartina, sea lavendar, periwinkle snails. Mike picked up a glass lizard, the only legless lizard I have ever seen. Empowered by my previous night’s experience of petting the belly of a California King Snake I attempted to do the same to the glass lizard, who struck at me. No harm done beyond the embarrassment of my own reaction– abject bone-rattling fear, which greatly amused my fellow adventurers.
There was butterfly catching, seining, lots of drawing to record what I saw. I was swimming in a soup of sensation. It made me delirious and carried me out of myself and back into union with the earth. It is with reluctance that I bring myself back to electric lights and cars, billboards and cellphones. I looked back at my journal from last September’s trip to this island. In it I said that I’d had the revelation while there that the secret to living this second part of my life was to live it like a poem. “order it and edit it and take time to live it consciously”. This year I plan to remind myself everyday that I am in the midst of a poem.