Friday, September 30, 2011

There is No End to Seeing


"Hokusai Says"

Hokusai says look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.




He says look forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat
yourself as long as it is interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.




He says every one of us is a child,
every one of us is ancient.
Every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find
a way to live with fear.




He says everything is alive --
shells, buildings, people, fish,
mountains, trees, wood is alive.
Water is alive.

Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.




He says it doesn't matter if you draw,
or write books. It doesn't matter
if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn't matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your veranda
or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.




It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.




Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
is life living through you.

He says don't be afraid.
Don't be afraid.
Love, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.


~ Roger Keyes








Katsushika Hokusai  was a Japanese artist, painter and print maker  (1760 - 1849)

The photographs are mine.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Grapes of No Wrath

Remember how people used to buy ice cream in pails?  I mean other people.  Not you or I. Well, I'm glad they did, especially the folks who used to own this place. They definitely liked their ice cream in pails. She must have decided she didn't need them where she was going (no, she didn't die, she just moved to a condo in Iowa).  No grapes to tend, no garden. I wonder if she ever misses either, or if she's just glad to be free of them....

Anyway, I'm loving those pails as they have been the perfect thing to use when picking grapes. I am happy to report, this year produced fifteen pails of grapes, and there are more we simply could not reach on top of the arbor. Coleman, my younger son, and I, picked yesterday morning and had the best time in that fall sunshine. While we picked grapes, we talked about life and planned for the wine. It was a perfect fall day. Since it's getting late in the season, I did a little pruning as we went. Next year it will be easier to get those on top.

Buddy and one of Coleman's dogs played in the leaves near us until they got hot and took shelter under the picnic table. Buddy liked having a play date and he absolutely adores Coleman. He is the picture of excitement when I even say Coleman's name. That dog knows good energy.

So, Coleman and his girl, Britta (speaking of good energy), are pressing the grapes and going through the process at their house. Coleman said the best part of making the wine is giving some bottles away after it's finished. Older son, Trevor, was over last weekend and said it would be fun to have a family vineyard. It does sound like fun, despite those family business pitfalls. It probably will never happen, but that doesn't matter, it's the idea that counts, not the manifestation of it.  We're having a good time here. 

And, since I'm on a Raymond Carver kick:

"There isn't enough of anything
as long as we live. But at intervals
a sweetness appears and, given a chance
prevails."



My photographs, before frost: underneath the grapevines, on the corner of the arbor, I discovered a head, well, a skull, now serving as a bird house, an animal skull (let's make that clear), but I couldn't ID it. Any ideas?


The Bone Lady lives!




Sunday, September 25, 2011

Waking Before Sunrise


This morning, just before daybreak, I was up and in my kitchen, working on losing some nameless, unrecognizable feeling I'd been carrying around the last few days. While the coffee brewed, I opened the drapes, ready for the light to show its face. Buddy moved from the bedroom floor to the green chair in the living room and then went back to snoozing. I sat at the table, picked up a book of poetry, then opened it at random to see what it had to say. The poet was Raymond Carver, and the book was his collected poems entitled,  All of Us.  This is what I found on page 157:

"Mesopotamia"

Waking before sunrise, in a house not my own,
I hear a radio playing in the kitchen.
Mist drifts outside the window while
a woman's voice gives the news, and then the weather.
I hear that, and the sound of meat
as it connects with hot grease in the pan.
I listen some more, half asleep. It's like,
but not like, when I was a child and lay in bed,
in the dark, listening to a woman crying,
and a man's voice raised in anger, or despair,
the radio playing all the while. Instead,
what I hear this morning is the man of the house
saying "How many summers do I have left?
Answer me that."  There's no answer from the woman
that I can hear. But what could she answer,
given such a question?  In a minute,
I hear his voice speaking of someone who I think
must be long gone: "That man could say,
  'O, Mesopotamia!'
and move his audience to tears."
I get out of bed at once and draw on my pants.
Enough light in the room that I can see
where I am, finally. I'm a grown man, after all,
and these people are my friends. Things
are not going well for them just now. Or else
they're going better than ever
because they're up early and talking
about such things of consequence
as death and Mesopotamia. In any case,
I feel myself being drawn to the kitchen.
So much that is mysterious and important
is happening out there this morning.

~ Raymond Carver




Thank you, dear friend, for sending me the book of Carver poems. It had been on my internal wish list for the past few weeks. And then, last Friday morning, there was the UPS man, walking up my driveway with a package full of Raymond Carver poetry in hand, your gift note tucked inside: "He saw so much so clearly and, like Hopper, shattered all illusions."  Thank you. Truly.








Images from Tumblr and Google.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dreaming on the Equinox


In my dream, I'm looking for some money I've misplaced. I thought it was here, somewhere, but I've traveled three roads and am still not sure I've found it. It seems to be tucked inside this bank bag along with some checks. I look through it. The checks are not mine, but I'm pretty certain the money is. It doesn't seem to be much, forty, maybe sixty dollars. I don't want to be thought a thief and so I hesitate. I think I should leave, go back, return on the same road I'd just been down. But when I look back, the road has narrowed. It's only a sandy trail with big rocks here and there, and bits of grass along the sides. It's traversable, but only by foot.

Then, you are there, telling me you'll help me find it. As you leave to look for it, the sun is shining down on you. I watch you go.

When you don't return, I go looking for you and find myself standing outside your office door. I knock, thinking the door is shut. But when I knock, it opens. You jump up, startled, not sure what to say. We don't say anything, but I know you've forgotten, forgotten that I've been waiting, that you said you'd help me look. A beige cable-knit cardigan is hanging over the back of your chair. I think, 'How odd,' it's not the kind of sweater you'd have worn before. The room is empty except for your computer on your desk, your chair, and a little side desk that sits beside it. Nothing hangs on the walls. No art, no memorabilia. They are gone. Only brown undistinguished paneling. No books resting where once the shelves were full. They are all gone. It's just you and your computer.

You look tired. You look older. You've lost a lot of weight. We stand there, silently looking at each other, the desk between us, not certain what to say. And then, you look away.









Image: Edward Hopper's  "Stairway at 48 rue de Lille Paris"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Falling Leaves Drift By the Window....


Tomorrow, very early in the morning, we will experience an equinox, "equal night,"  then quietly move into autumn. For me, nothing says 'autumn' like this song and no one sings it better than Nat King Cole.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Last Rose of Summer



Yesterday, while I was out collecting zinnias for next summer's seed, I noticed that, despite all the other flowers having been hit hard by several nights of frost, a small bud was forming on one of the smaller rose bushes - a tea rose, I believe. So today, I went out and took its picture. A light rain was falling. There's something about a rose balancing beads of rain on its soft petals ...


"It Is Raining on the House of Anne Frank"

It is raining on the house
of Anne Frank
and on the tourists
herded together under the shadow
of their umbrellas,
on the perfectly silent
tourists who would rather be
somewhere else
but who wait here on stairs
so steep they must rise
to some occasion
high in the empty loft,
in the quaint toilet,
in the skeleton
of a kitchen
or on the map--
each of its arrows
a barb of wire--
with all the dates, the expulsions,
the forbidding shapes
of continents.
And across Amsterdam it is raining
on the Van Gogh museum
where we will hurry next
to see how someone else
could find the pure
center of light
within the dark circle
of his demons.


~ Linda Pastan








Sunday, September 18, 2011

A New American Renaissance?


















I invite you to spend just 3: 39 watching this video, the trailer for a new film premiering on 11-11-11. Click on the link. Then, if you're so inclined, I'd like to hear what you think.

 http://www.thrivemovement.com


Saturday, September 17, 2011

For the Love of Dennis



For as long as I've been on this planet I've loved words. You probably have, too, that's why you're here, in this community of writers, expressing yourself in your own unique way. We all love words, especially the written word. I followed along over my mother's shoulder as she read to us, learning to read almost by osmosis. I could read well before I ever went to school. It just seemed to come very easy for me.

In the first grade, I recall a boy named Dennis who, when called upon to read aloud, struggled so hard over every syllable that I think I held my breath, praying him through, 'til he was mercifully released and the next child was called on. I even wondered, when it came to my turn, if I should pretend to struggle, so he and others who fought their way through a sentence would feel better. It made me sad. It seemed unfair.

In second grade, again Dennis sat across from me and we silently struggled together, side by side. Whether it was reading, or math, whatever the subject, he had trouble. He seemed to move through life almost painfully alone. A strange thing, considering, but understandable now from the distance of over fifty years. He came from a family of fourteen kids. Perhaps that was the first time I recognized one can feel very isolated and alone even in a crowd, even in the midst of family and friends.

It was early in the year when Mrs. Tonsager handed out new reading books and I got so caught up in reading that I was completely unaware we had moved on to handwriting. When I finally looked around and saw everyone else working on their cursive, I quietly lifted the top of my desk, slid the book inside, pulled out the cursive handbook and went to work practicing my loops. I've wondered why Mrs. Tonsager never said a word to me. She surely saw me there, two desks from her desk, reading instead of writing, completely absorbed in the book. Perhaps she knew the value and allowed for it.

In the spring, we all took part in something called Iowa Basic Skills Tests. Mrs. Tonsager would call each child up to her desk to discuss the results of their tests. When it was my turn, I stood next to her desk as she told me I was reading at an eighth grade level. I wasn't sure what that meant, but she seemed very pleased and I supposed I should be, too. I quietly returned to my seat. But, in that moment, the world opened before me and all the potential that books brought with them came flooding in. I never looked back. I read nonstop year after year.

One day, sometime during that year, I noticed Dennis was sitting with his face in his hands and quietly crying. I didn't know what to say. A boy was crying and I was completely lacking any skills that would allow me to comfort him. I did ask why, but he wouldn't answer me. I couldn't tell you what happened and in what order, but the teacher came back to Dennis' desk, knelt down beside him and asked what was wrong. I heard him tell her, through his tears, that he'd forgotten to wear a shirt. He was wearing only a white t-shirt at the time, something I'd given no notice to, but to him it might have been akin to my recurring dream of hiding behind the door to our classroom wearing only my slip. No child is immune to feelings of vulnerability, so I don't know why I'm relating that story and tying it into reading, but they seem to go together in my childhood, his struggle with reading and with life.

A few years later, I became friends with two of his slightly older sisters, Trisha and Kathy. We spent many summer days riding horses, laughing ourselves silly, and forming the Beatles Bifocal Club, something I've alluded to earlier. I never made friends with Dennis. He seemed to disappear, as though he was in some sort of self-imposed exile. I have no idea what happened to him. I lost track of their family years ago.

It seems to me, looking back across the distance from childhood to here, that  "no child left behind"  should apply to their emotional well-being rather than their academic progress. I believe the two are inextricably linked. Surely, we can do better, for a boy named Dennis and all the others since. Somehow, it all seems tied together. It's not a magical answer, but being able to read and being encouraged to read opens up a world of infinite possibilities, raising one's perception of their place in the world along the way.








Paintings by Winslow Homer

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Playing Dress Up



Playing dress up wasn't a big part of my childhood. Mom wasn't an evening gown and high heels kind of gal. She lived in a cotton dress world, to borrow a phrase from Nick Lowe, especially during those early years. No, we were just ourselves, little kids running around in the woods and down endless dirt roads.

It came to me very early this morning, while reading a poem by Mary Oliver, that those years not only gave rise to my love of nature, but they also helped to shape my spiritual life. I think a big part of this return to the land of my youth is about remembering that, recalling who I am, with spirit firmly at the center.

Here's Mary, who never fails to help me remember.

"Poem (the spirit likes to dress up)"

The spirit
   likes to dress up like this:
     ten fingers,
       ten toes,

shoulders, and all the rest
   at night
     in the black branches,
        in the morning

in the blue branches
   of the world.
     It could float, of course,
       but would rather

plumb rough matter.
  Airy and shapeless thing,
     it needs
        the metaphor of the body,

lime and appetite,
   the oceanic fluids;
      it needs the body's world,
        instinct

and imagination
   and the dark hug of time,
     sweetness
        and tangibility,

to be understood,
   to be more than pure light
     that burns
        where no one is --

so it enters us --
   in the morning
     shines from brute comfort
        like a stitch of lightning;

and at night
   lights up the deep and wondrous
     drownings of the body
        like a star.


~ Mary Oliver




Here's Nick Lowe and  "True Love Travels on a Gravel Road."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4I21_vooWI  


Image: "Icarus"  by Henri Matisse

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chasing the Light Around the Crab Apple Tree



I've been fixating on the crab apples that have fallen from the tree just outside my kitchen window. I've walked all around them, taking their picture from every angle imaginable, and I still don't think I'm done with them. I love the way the sun peeks through the clouds and around my shoulder, highlighting individual apples, how it lights up the grass lying over and around them as the grass cradles a few inside its shade, the shadows the light creates as it falls here for a second, and then there for a second, silhouettes of boughs hanging overhead. I just can't seem to get enough of these little beauties.




I have spent two days chasing the light around that crab apple tree, never failing to see something new, something different.




I've been having a very good time.




Just to live in the country is a full-time job. You don't have to do anything. The idle pursuit of making a living is pushed to one side where it belongs, in favor of living itself, a task of such immediacy, variety, beauty and excitement that one is powerless to resist its wild embrace.

~ E. B. White






The photographs are mine.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Evening in Utah with Edith Piaf



In the spring of 2004, late April, I was in Bluff, Utah, with my friend, JB. Located in the southeastern corner of the state, it's a tiny town with a population of about 300 people. It sits next to the San Juan River, among what has to be some of the best hiking on the planet: countless red rock canyons to explore and play in, long afternoons to sit quietly under those endless blue skies and just listen, surrounded by a profound sense of history. 

On this particular spring day, despite being in what seems like the middle of nowhere, we decided to celebrate my birthday by going to dinner. You might think a town of this size would be bereft of possibilities. Not so. The Cow Canyon Trading Post, a sprawling old adobe home, sits alone at the edge of town. Besides the art gallery it contains, there is a restaurant unlike anything anyone could ever imagine possible in this little corner of Utah.


Offering a small menu of exceptional quality, prepared by a talented and skilled chef, our meal that evening was something beyond delicious. Truly remarkable. But, it was the ambiance that made it so very memorable.

We were seated on a porch in the back, with floor length glass windows on three sides. It had a smooth stone floor, high-backed wooden chairs, and a table with turned legs and fading yellow paint, the kind you might find in an old farmhouse. A simple bouquet of fresh flowers sat on the table next to the adobe wall.  From there, we could see her wash on the clothesline blowing back and forth in the breeze, budding greenery just beyond it, and then the canyon walls shining in the evening light. We sat quietly. It was a perfect spring evening.

As the wash on the line gently lifted and fell, lifted and fell, we could hear the exquisite sound of Edith Piaf singing,  "Non, Je ne regrette rien."  I Regret Nothing.

If I'm going to remember a moment in my life, it's going to be That moment.

Here is Edith Piaf, the Little Bird:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Kvu6Kgp88








The images are mine. The card is set against a piece of pottery that JB made for me, a different year, a different birthday. I'll tell you about it sometime.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sweeter Than Wine, Vintage 1942


Sometime last week, before heading to town to run some errands, I had a question concerning something or other, and, as I have done from time to time, I wondered what my dad would do, so I asked him. Almost immediately an answer popped into my head that felt exactly like what my dad would have said. I think I already knew the answer, but was looking for affirmation.

Not content with my affirmation, I decided to ask for confirmation. As is often the case, my answer arrived via the radio.

But first, some background.

When I was young, somewhere in my early 20's, I created a scrapbook of photos, along with song lyrics and poems that I knew my mom liked, and gave it to her for Mother's Day. One of the pages held a photo of Mom and Dad the summer they met. It's taken outside my grandparent's house, my mom's parents, shortly before they got married.

Years later, after I came along, I would sometimes hear my dad singing Jimmie Rodger's,  "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine."  Not the entire song, just a verse or maybe the chorus. Dad was a dreamer, but he was also a doer and a practical man, not prone to outpourings of affection. Oftentimes, his affection came in the form of music. Both of my parents had great voices and loved to sing. Anyway, through the years I came to see it as their song. In the scrapbook I made for my mom, I placed that song next to their photo.


When I was heading down the highway last week, looking for some verification of what I thought was an answer from my dad, I turned on the radio and that song immediately came on. I hadn't heard it in years. Many, many years. I don't know if I call these things up, or the Universe drops them in my lap as a way of saying, 'keep moving, you're on the right path,' but it happens often, quite often through music, and I can't see it as just coincidence. There are millions of songs out there and I'm just a speck among them. Whatever it is that happens, I like it. It makes me feel connected to the vastness of the universe.

I also have a million stories I could tell about these two people. My cousin once said, after both had passed, that now the universe was right again, these two twin souls were reunited. I don't know if that's true, but there's no reason to believe it's not true. In a few days, my parents wedding anniversary comes 'round again. They didn't have a perfect marriage, I'm not sure such a thing exists, but they created together one beautiful life and left me so many things of great value. I will be eternally grateful for the day that picture was taken.

Here's Jimmie Rodgers and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine."  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kg1GEOg8k8




Note: There were two Jimmie Rodgers, one of train and yodeling fame, and this one. This song went to #3 in the fall of '57.

Photos: Mom and Dad on that day, and one of my sisters and me, peeking out the window of the garage, several years hence.  Left to right:  me, Chris, and Jane.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Buddy Consorts with Martha and Agnes


This morning, shortly after commenting to Grethe (Thyra) that Buddy had not yet chewed my maps and guidebooks, I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. While I was doing so, Buddy was apparently busy checking out the notebooks on top of  the table. I had not yet realized he could see the top of it and, well, while the cat's away the mice will play.


When I came back out to the living room he knew his goose was cooked. He led me on a chase with a piece of paper in his mouth. I had not yet been able to discern which piece of paper, but from the looks of the notebooks scattered on the floor, I knew I wanted it back in one piece. He ran behind the chair thinking it might be a good spot to get out of Ma's reach. When that didn't work out according to plan, he made a mad dash for the couch. From there, he jumped on top of the ottoman, a sort of King's X, he likes to think. King's X, as if.


As I got within reach, back behind the chair he went where he dropped the piece of paper and then made a quick retreat to the kitchen. He now lies under the kitchen table pretending to be asleep. No curtain call for him. He's probably familiar with the adage "let sleeping dogs lie." 

Anyway, this was on the piece of paper he found most inspiring:

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And, if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU.

~ Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

A regular Baryshnikov he is, that Buddy. He clearly knows what the urges are, even if he's not always aware of the motivation. And, it's impossible to stay mad at him for more than a second or two. Besides, I rather like having a dog that's well-read. Even if he leaves the pages a bit, uh, dog-toothed.








Monday, September 5, 2011

Shedding More Light on Mr. Hopper


Since posting my Edward Hopper piece, I've been doing some thinking, mostly due to a few comments that forced the issue. I talked in the post about how my topic was light, as well as the passing of summer, but I lost some sleep last night because I felt a nagging sense that something was amiss in this post. I woke up early this morning, very early, trying to get to the bottom of that twinge of unknowing. Then, I realized I'd given the wrong title to one of the paintings. So, I got out of bed, went to the computer, and made the correction (just a little OCD).  Since I was there, I read and published the newly posted comments. Then I went back to bed.

And then, I really couldn't sleep. A comment left by Cletis, who talked about how he found the Hopper paintings  "terrifying" and "upsetting,"  left me unsettled. Maybe, just maybe, I needed to take a look at this.

Mmmmm....

Well, I have to admit, a part of me certainly understands that someone could, indeed, find them unsettling. It's not an emotion I'm entirely unfamiliar with as it relates to these paintings.




And then there is George's comment, which arrived this afternoon, in which he talks about Hopper's characters, who seem to have a propensity for,  "wondering...endlessly wondering what is out there, how one person, so seemingly insignificant, fits into the larger scheme of things,"  noting that he found it reassuring that others are also wondering....  And that got me wondering, mainly because I could relate to it.

So then I had to ask myself, why did I focus on the light?   Am I unwilling to look at the shadow?   I know the shadow has no power except that which I assign to it, but am I choosing to simply ignore even the idea of a shadow?  And if so, at what price?




When I was working in the art gallery , one of my favorite clients came in and we somehow started talking about Edward Hopper. He had just finished reading a biography about him, and he told me that Hopper and his wife, Jo, according to the biographer, fought like cats and dogs, regular knock down, drag outs. If this is true (I'm not entirely convinced biographers can remain objective about their subjects), then it goes a long way towards explaining the sense of isolation he seems to have felt. And, although his paintings appear to be about light and shadow, the shadow seems to be the real subject of his work.




Anyway, I may or may not ponder further. My inclination is to just keep moving. All will be revealed.  In the meantime, here is a Louis Jenkins prose poem that seems rather apropos. If you recall, he's the poet from Duluth whom Mark Rylance quoted in two Tony acceptance speeches. I've discussed my fondness for Mr. Rylance previously.

Here's Mr. Jenkins:

"Diner"

The time has come to say goodbye, our plates empty except for our greasy napkins. Comrades, you on my left, balding, middle-aged guy with a ponytail, and you, Lefty, there on my right, though we barely spoke I feel our kinship. You were steadfast in passing the ketchup, the salt and pepper, no man could ask for better companions. Lunch is over, the cheese-burgers and fries, the Denver sandwich, the counter nearly empty. Now we must go our separate ways. Not a fond embrace, but perhaps a hearty handshake. No?  Well then, farewell. It is unlikely I'll pass this way again. Unlikely we will all meet again on this earth, to sit together beneath the neon and fluorescent calmly sipping our coffee, like the sages sipping their tea underneath the willow, sitting quietly, saying nothing.

~ Louis Jenkins














Images: Edward Hopper's  "Compartment,"   "Empty Room,"   "New York Movie"   "Room in Brooklyn,"  and  "Nighthawks."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Edward Hopper and the Passing of Summer


For the past week, Edward Hopper has been paying a visit to my inner life. I think it's the play of light that tells me summer is waning and fall is on its way. I have felt it in the air for well over two weeks now. One day it's distinctly summer and the next the air is tinged with an indescribable feeling of transition. We've made the turn into shorter days and softer light. A breeze has taken the few leaves that have fallen and created a small pool of gold and brown under the crab apple trees outside my kitchen window. There is the soon-to-be last mowing, the final apple picking, the grapes that are almost ready.



Hopper stated in an interview, "Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world."  When I see his paintings, I get the sense that something has just happened, or is about to happen, that we are viewing, in an almost voyeuristic way, the emotional details of someone's life, details usually kept hidden from the outside world.



Many of his subjects seem to be in isolation, as though disconnected from others, from life. One gets the distinct feeling that Hopper himself felt disconnected, his life lacking in any true intimacy.



Even his houses carry that feeling of being disconnected, adrift on some nameless sea.



I no longer feel that sense of isolation from the rest of the world, a feeling I often grappled with in my early years and throughout the 1980's. When I went to the Picasso exhibit at the Walker Art Center I purchased a postcard depicting Hopper's painting, "Seven a.m."  It immediately spoke to me, as though I was calling up some long buried memory of a time and place I once inhabited, perhaps inhabit still somewhere in this vast universe. Despite the feeling of melancholy it evoked, I also began to feel a pull towards a greater connection with something, to other souls who were seeking connection, a sense of place in the world.



Edward Hopper's wife, Josephine, who was often his model, was also a painter. As with many artistic couples in the past, it was usually the woman who was relegated to a lesser position in the art world, who took the back seat, whose work somehow never made the splashy entrance into our consciousness. Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner come to mind.  Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to Hopper's painting of,  "Jo in Wyoming,"  in which he clearly is viewing her as being in the front seat, painting. But, I'm getting off topic.


So, what is my topic?  I don't think the topic is melancholy.  I don't feel melancholy at all. It seems that doesn't play a role in my life nearly as much as it used to. I think the topic is light. I have been noticing often this summer how it plays against the curtains as it falls through the window, how it moves, creating the shadows that lie on the green lawn, and now, as we move through these final days of summer, it often hides behind the clouds only to emerge a short while later and it does this all day, until dusk takes hold.


Last night, after visiting with a friend on the phone and going over the summer, what it brought for both of us, and just as valuable, what it didn't, I stepped outside and onto the lawn in my bare feet, looked up at the Big Dipper hanging just above the treetops, and said goodbye to summer. Perhaps a tad premature, but I felt it was time. Somewhere in the distance, fireworks were going off.


Will I miss the intensity of the summer light?  No, I can't say that I will. I have long preferred the fall. It's my favorite time of year. I'm actually looking forward to the projects I'm lining up for the winter. I'm going to go back to practicing the mandolin and break open those watercolors that I bought last year, try my hand at what I know is a difficult medium to master. We shall see what happens. Mostly, I just want to continue to stay present to my life and appreciate every single day, watching the light as it moves through the seasons.


While I thought about this post - Edward and Josephine, summer light and falling leaves - Joan Baez' song, "Diamonds and Rust," came to mind. She and Bob Dylan went their separate ways, each to follow their own life, through their own art. There are brown leaves falling and snow in his hair, but it was the line about Washington Square that gave me permission to post this, bringing together what might appear at first to be disparate subjects. Edward Hopper died in his studio near Washington Square back in May of 1967. Josephine followed him ten months later.

Here is Joan: