Tuesday, April 27, 2010

History is a Pile of Debris

It snowed today covering up the beautiful trillium of the woods, the tulips of the garden about to bloom, the daffodils in the lawn and their shining welcome. One can only wonder what will happen now to the fruit trees about to blossom.

All day I wanted to get back to the painting. Struggling through the questions needing answers, the tasks, the mundane, and the unexpected, work called and with it wonderful opportunities for our project and our students opened before us.

Oil paint needs to cure, to sit, to become once again workable. It may be one of the things I love about oil paints. With a 24 hour wait, paint sets, color soaks in. Layered upon, details can be added, color enriched—or scrubbed away; layers thin and thick, brush strokes delicate or sweeping, so the mind is revealed. I come in with a vision but through time a new, truer wisdom is slowly released—like a bird released from the hand.

"And she says: Hanzel you are really bringing me down
And he says: Gretel, you can really be a bitch
He says: I've wasted my life on our stupid legend
When my one and only love
was the wicked witch."
—from Laurie Andersen, The Dream Before

"The bed is empty, made for two, not one.
The reflex does not die, to touch, to reach,
To find. I think it will never be done,
And I am glad of that. It seems that each
Of us find our own answers in this grief."
—from Madeleine L'Engle, Sonnet 1

When my dog Louie was but a yearling, we were traveling through Vermont's hills. Myself caught up in the thoughts and preoccupations of my life. Louie however had only focus. In one quick reflex, he caught a young grouse and brought it to my hand, untrained. I still remember its gaze. The gaze of baby creatures—large eyed, pure, trusting, fearful. With a stay command Louie sat and I tenderly released it back into the scrub from where it had been retrieved.

History may be "a pile of debris", but for the attentive, from the debris the phoenix does rise.

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