Wanting to protect him in his formative years, I’ve never written Thing1’s name on this blog. On the occasion of his 17th birthday last week, however, Thing1 went on a walk-about up the back of Mount Equinox, the highest peak of the Taconics. It was from the top of the Equinox, about 4PM, that he sent me the photo that inspired this painting.
Mac – short for MacLean is as independent-minded as you’d think someone with a name like his might be, but he’s also something I’ve never been.
He’s brave. Not fearless – but brave.
On the way up the mountain, he texted a few photos and the occasional weather report – ‘a storm is passing and it’s so cool – don’t worry, Mom’. His phone ran out of battery before he could text about the bear that crossed his path on the way down the mountain, but neither a lack of communications or a close encounter of the furry kind sent him scurrying to our doorstep. The only thing that brought him off the mountain seemed to be the acknowledgement that, as it got darker out, his mother would be doing what mothers do best – worrying.
When he got back, he showed us the pictures he’d taken and told us of everything he’d seen — the abandoned farm, the gates of the monastery that sits midway up the mountain and the animals that had crossed his path. He ended his story with plans for a next hike and an invitation to join him on a future adventure, and I realized we’d received the best possible birthday present from Mac on his 17th birthday.
We heard a kid who could acknowledge the reality of unexpected dangers on a hike while refusing to let fear keep him from the path. And I knew his invitation wasn’t a cry for help but an encouragement to join him on a new adventure.
My landscape this summer is my studio/office window. It’s a wonderful but small view and has me painting small things. When January gives us a foot of snow, these small things may seem a lot bigger.
Storm on the Run, 9 x 12
It took me a long time to get comfortable with painting snow. Once I did, However, I couldn’t stop painting winter. It’s moody and scraggly, and I identify with it.
It’s taken me a little time to find the Moody side of summer, but the constant rain storms are making the painting easy again.
I love to stop and ponder the headless statue whenever I go over to Bedlam Farm, the home of bestselling author John Katz and artist Maria Wulf.
This weekend I was there to participate in their semi-annual Open House, celebrating Rural Art and the creative spark that lives in all of us. I love the Open House because you can’t get up the driveway without running into an old friend and fellow art junkie, but this year there was something deeper to love, and it gave me a clue as to what might have happened to the pilgrim’s head.
As happens with every Open House, people from all walks of life and points of view came together to enjoy the art. Throughout the day I overheard people praising the work of others. Sitting under the apple tree on a wicker love-seat, I heard one visitor contemplating reviving her creative life as another enthusiastically encouraged her. We watched sheep herding and listened to kids relatively new to this country sharing their musical talents with a damp-eyes audience.
This weekend ended up being, for me, about nurturing the idea that the things we have in common–the things that bind us–are more beautiful and powerful and than those that divide us. There seemed to be a mass mutual recognition that our creative sparks are worth fanning and when we come together to encourage people’s gifts, we are all better.
That thought kind of carried my head into the clouds as I sat on that love-seat on Sunday, and I realize that’s probably what happened to the little pilgrim statue at Bedlam Farm too. I think he found himself at the altar of creativity (featuring a recycled art sculpture by Ed Gulley) and, keeping his feet on the ground, let his head get lost in the clouds as he chased his own creative spark.
It’s a worthy pursuit, and I think all of us who had a chance to sit near the altar this weekend went home full of sparks to nurture and share.