So, I am still talking about the day trip to the Shenandoah Skyline Drive (if you missed yesterday's post about ice, check it out!). It might be winter, the trees may be bare, the temperature below freezing, but some green things are thriving! Under, in, and around the icy rocks were so many mosses taking advantage of the lack of competition and canopy.
Any spot that gets sunlight and melting ice was covered with the most Kelly of greens.
These little habitats are so hidden and overpowered during the warmer months, but are the stars of the show now. The shapes are amazing, and so very sculptural. These photos show the mosses, but the lichens were equally prolific, if not as showy and photogenic.
Also enjoying their time in the spotlight are the pines. They are especially bright set against the grays of the bare trees and brush surrounding them. The last time I photo'ed these mountains, they were sporting the hot colors of fall, now they have let those leaves drop and the green pines bask in the sun.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the sky in all its glory! (here is a taste of things to come!)
A year and a half ago, we left the beauty of the driftless area of Wisconsin and moved to the mountain area of Virginia. It has been a wonderful move, and the beauty that surrounds us in Virginia is amazing. But the winters are different; No shoveling, less precarious ice, my nostrils no longer freeze shut, scarves are more decorative than necessary, and fingerless gloves almost make sense. On the other hand, it has been a long time since I have seen a lavender-blue shadow on powdered snow, heard the silence of a winter morning or the crunch of frozen tundra under my feet, I no longer can tell who visited during the night by the tracks in the morning. But yesterday I found some real beauty in the Virginia Winter... the ice.
Yesterday my "photo and phiber phriend", Susan, and I took a drive up into the mountains to explore. We have done this during the height of trillium season, during the bursting beauty of the Mountain Laurel season and other more hospitable times. Neither one of us was terribly hopeful about finding anything interesting, much less beautiful in the snowless, 30 degree, winter gray, but I am happy to report we were very wrong.
As the day progressed, the temperatures didn't rise much, but the sun was bright. By afternoon, some melting had begun, and the ice in the sun began to crumble noisily as the drips dropped and chunks fell off.
The most interesting ice of the day was the smallest. We didn't even notice it at first. We were hiking down a path, and while looking at the mosses and lichen, noticed some strange formations in the looser soil around us.
I have no idea what these crystal-like formations are formed, but it seems they grew up from the ground. Perhaps something about the water freezing and the ground contracting? If you know anything about it let me know! they we only about one inch long at the most, and often had a stone or pebble at the top of them.
So what we thought would be a mundane day, turned quite magical (I think that happens a lot if you let it!) and I haven't even told you about the deer, the owl, the waterfall, the sunset or the moon.... stay tuned more tomorrow.
Like I mentioned yesterday, my work has become more and more intricate and detailed. I needed a bit of a respite from that, so I took a "walkabout" in downtown Charlottesville. There is a building that has been left in a half-built state for about 5 years now. I am not sure of the story, but watching it degrade and change slowly over time is very interesting. I photo it often.
I was looking for quiet details. The light was soft, due to clouds and mist. So the colors, if there at all, were soft and muted too. The contrast of the worn or torn with the expanses of flat are very interesting. I am pretty sure that after my work on the lush and colorful nature of Smokey Mountain Park is finished, something like the simplicity found in these photos will be the basis of my next series.
Yesterday we drove across Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia to get back home to C'ville! I must say we live in a beautiful country. The fields, the trees, the hills, and even the flatlands are all amazing!
Our trip was great, good times and good people. Our butts are sore from sitting, and our own bed felt pretty darn good last night!
Today will start organizing my new studio space at the McGuffey Art Center. So very excited to get it up and going. Feels like I have been off the machine for weeks.... oh ya... I HAVE!!!
So, while I am organizing, you can see more of my "Intentional Blur Photo Paintings"
We are on the road for about 2000 miles! As I watch the world go by I see the textures, that happen with my stitching, in the blur of the speed of the countryside going by. Last year, on a similar road trip I first tried this, you can see those on Facebook here. This year, after a lot of experimentation and testing, I finally have found a few combinations of f-stops, ISO, and shutter speeds, that replicated the look I was looking for. These blurs are pretty much as taken, with a little color editing, and I love the painterly look achieved, and am now ready for the ride home to try some more!
vWhile I was clicking away in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, so were many others. Now going through my photos I realize how many of them I couldn't resist taking a shot of while they were in action. The selfie and phone snappers were too numerous to even think about, but there was one group that I did have to immortalize. They were out so early and having such fun so the above photo is the one selfie-taking pic I couldn't resist! Below is a series of some of the other photographers that I caught in action:
For the last hike I headed out early to go to Tremont Road and Trail. it was somewhere I had been meaning to go to, and I talked to a hiker on Thursday, who said it was a "must". I packed both a breakfast and a lunch, donned my boots, extended my sticks, and headed out. The road goes from paved, to gravel, then to trail, and is for both humans and horses. The hiking part was about five miles round trip, but it was pretty flat and well groomed. But (as you can see in the slide show) the stops for photo ops was frequent, so while it filled my heart, it was probably not a cardio workout!
The temperature was perfect - cool enough to keep you moving. The moss was phenomenal. The sun was golden. The stream was a series of large cascades. And, the Horsey vapors were wonderful! Enough people around to get and give smiles and greetings, but alone for long stretches, too.
It really was the perfect hike to end the month on. Thank you Smoky Mountains. On the drive back, I stopped long enough for one last sunset and the darkening blue sky. Maybe there was a tear or two. It was a long day, and deserved a longer than usual slideshow... so here it is.
I hit the road early. I am ready to go home. I won't really be leaving the mountains, as the spine of the Blue Ridge goes from the park right up to C'ville, so visiting will be frequent! It is time to apply all the inspiration. The park personnel were happy with what they saw, but it was just the tip of what I hope will be an iceberg. I will be having a show of the park inspired work at the McGuffey Art Center in C'ville in February. Lots of work to do in the meantime! But - did I mention I am getting a studio at the Art Center starting November 1! I am very excited about the thought of spreading out and working hard on these. I will keep you posted on the progress...
Hope you enjoyed sharing my adventure as much as I did sharing it with you all. Thanks for all the comments both here and on Facebook.
In case you missed my Facebook post last week, it is still very relevant:
I have to say I feel wonderfully out-of-touch with the "real world". For 3 weeks now, I have heard nothing of Trump. I have not seen a minute of TV. In the car I have caught snippets of NPR, but not much. I have connected on-line only periodically, and when I did, I selfishly posted more out than took in! Phone calls have been few and far between. Hours of silence have been frequent.
I have hiked many miles, and listened to some total silence. I have listened to music CDs that have been untouched for years. I have talked to artists about art. I have seen the art of nature in its many forms and moods. I am experiencing a very unique and cherished opportunity. Soon it will be back to reality, but I think my heart will not forget.
This was the day for my demo at The Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center. It is a long and beautiful drive to get over there, so I decided to leave immediately when I woke up. It was still dark, so I got to see the stars, and find a good place to watch the sunrise…well, me and about a half dozen other photogs! Every outlook had someone camped out waiting for dawn!
The morning was crisp enough that there was a frost during the night, and so a few more trees changed, and the frost edged the leaves. That golden sun that comes right after the dawn, the frost, and the mist rising from the streams, made the world both magical and saturated with color.
I got to ‘Luftee (don’t I sound like an insider!) with plenty of time so I went on a homestead tour with Ranger Michael Smith. He was so full of both knowledge and humor, and made the perfect guide for both the world of the past homesteaders and those who presently work to preserve homestead.
I met a busload of people from the upper Midwest, including a pair of guys who went to school in Phillips and Tripoli, my Dad’s hometown area. They didn’t have to tell me where they were from; the melody of their accent immediately gave them away! The temperature was perfect for sitting in the sun working all day, and I made great progress and had many interesting conversations. I will finish up the stitching on the piece when I get home.
After sitting all day, I decided to take the trail to the Cherokee Museum and back to stretch my legs. That plan didn’t last long.
As I headed down the path that ran alongside the stream, I came upon a herd of Elk moseying through the stream to get to the meadow by the visitor center. This is when I, again, realized I will never be a wildlife photographer! I swiftly backed up about 20 yards and my heart was pounding.
I picked a few huge trees that I could hide behind, and slowly worked my way down to the edge of the stream to watch the parade. I did manage to get it together enough to take a few shots, and then went back to watch from the safe viewing area. They are majestic and the Big-Daddy was HUGE.
I watched them for a long time. The Big-Daddy kept all the women and children herded together. And the four or five younger antlered bulls stood on the sidelines. Occasionally one of the young bulls, would start to approach the herd, but Big-Daddy just put his head down and let out a very convincing stay-away sound, and the young one became far less brazen. A couple of the 'boys' did some mock fighting just to test out there moves.
Finally it was time to head back across the Park to home. I had packed enough sandwiches and apples to get me through the day, so I stopped to eat and watch the sunset on the way home. It was another great day, and I think I was fast asleep by 9:00.
Here is the visual diary of my day!
The other day when I made the “plein air” piece at Cades Cove, I never got the shadows correct. People converged too quickly and too frequently for me to get them down before they changed again! Consequently the whole thing is very flat. I will be doing another one at Oconaluftee tomorrow, but I have an advantage this time. I got to take the earlier pictures of the place at about the time I will be arriving on Tuesday to do my work. So today I “cheated” and used one of those photos to block out the large areas of the composition, so I can just get down to the magic of details tomorrow. I am already seeing a great improvement with this one.
For the rest of the day, I went to explore another area of the park; the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. I didn’t have big expectations for this. The road to it leads out of the middle of Gatlinburg, and with a name like “motor nature trail” ... BUT let that be a lesson; It was fantastic! People, yes, but n ot too many. Fantastic waterfalls to reward you for a long and winding multi-mile hike, several old homesteads where you can wander as you wish, and a tiny old mill by ‘the old mill stream’. The Roaring Fork stream winds with the one-way, one-lane road and the speed limit is 10mph, but usually slower.
The trail was not so steep, but, as you can see in the photos, the roots were amazing and treacherous.
It inspired me to compose the lyrics for a new country western song:
"When you're hiking through life,
and the hand you hold isn't with you,
it is good to have a walking stick"
I hope these pictures just give you a taste of another little piece of paradise!
Day 17 and 18
On Wednesday, Jon and I decided to explore an area of the park I had not yet seen; Oconaluftee. It is the spot I will be working on site for most of the day next Tuesday, so I wanted to go and check it out in advance.
It was a lovely drive with short walks to a couple of streams, great vistas and turning trees along the way. It is up and over the mountain, so also a lot of turning roads!
The site is a historic settlers’ homestead complete with working garden, and piggies. The buildings are fascinating; the ingenuity to construct and survive is reflected in the workmanship and the creativity. There are barns and outbuildings homes and (on the way there) a turbine grist mill that is still working. And I never tire of the split rail zig zag fences so prevalent here. I am looking forward to going back on next Tuesday for a little “Plein Air” quilting! Checck out these photos of the place, and don't miss the kissing pigs!
Thursday, Day 18, was a “work day” for me! I donned my official volunteer hat and park shirt, and gathered my materials and headed to Cade Cove. We left early in hopes of avoiding the crowds, but I am not sure that is ever possible! The word is out that the best viewing of wildlife (Other than the tourist on the streets of Gatlinburg) is early AM at Cades Cove, so there they were – both the visitors and the wildlife.
Driving in was a slow stroll in your car, with total stoppage when an animal was sighted. Even with all the warnings, people jumped out of their cars and ran to take pics of the mama bear and her cubs. It was a fantastic sight though. The dew was heavy and the fog was light, and the morning light glowed on the fields and through the trees. I am so glad people could enjoy this beauty.
Once we arrived at the visitor center, where another crowd was gathered to watch an elk graze behind the restrooms, I found the park personnel who would help me know the ropes for my gig. They were a welcoming and warm group, and had a sign already for me! I found a great bench to set up my materials, a fence on which to hang examples of my work, and a lovely view of the water powered grist mill. Like Oconaluftee, Cades Cove is also a setting showing how the early settlers of the area lived and worked. While I worked, Jon tried (very successfully) his hand at photography – both of me doing my thing and of the site.
According to park personnel it was a very busy day, and I had many people who came to chat with me, ask questions about my art and the park’s artist in residency program, and tell me about their art adventures. My favorite quote of the day, “next to the bear I saw this morning, you are my favorite part of the park!”
Click on the below pictures to see them larger.
The weather was perfect, the people all pleasant, and a great experience. The artwork I did was a bit more traditional and unlike my usual, but it was fun, and it did the job of linking art to the park setting and providing interest and information for the crowd. I did a “Plein Air” depiction of the mill using small bits and pieces of fabrics, temporarily held down with glue. Then I took it back to the studio to add the stitching, texture and more details. Here is the result. Left; before stitching - done on site. Middle; after stitching. Right; finished.
NOTE: to see all posts from my Smoky Mountain Adventure, click on the category “Locale:Smoky Mountain Residency” on the right
Days 15 and 16
When I left you last, it was with a beautiful sunset on Day 14, so it is only right I start here with a sunrise for Day 15. The sunrises I have seen in the Smokys have not been as colorful as they have been an act of slowly seeing the valleys remove their nighttime coverlets of fog and mist to welcome the sun’s warmth. I have listened to Grieg’s Peer Gynt “Morning” so many times these past weeks because it is the musical equivalent of the visual display seen here (and it is one of the few CDs I brought!). Here is a short slideshow of my morning….
The rest of Day 15 and most of Day 16 were spent in the studio, working, planning, and experimenting… and waiting for Jon to show up for a visit. He got here Tuesday night and we headed off to explore the park I got to see some new places, and showed him some of my favorite places. Of course, he had to check out the “runs” “riffs” “ripples” and “pools” of the streams in the area. We had a great picnic lunch in one of the park’s “Quiet Walkways” – little gems of short walks that are very secluded and quiet. Here are a few shots of our adventures.
NOTE: to see all posts from my Smoky Mountain Adventure, click on the category “Locale:Smoky Mountain Residency” on the right
Day 14, continued
After the Conference closed, I couldn't wait to get back to the nature of The Great Smoky Mountain Park. I decide that even though it was tourist-peak Sunday, I would go to one of the most popular places in the park; Clingman's Dome.
I had started the day down at the bottom in the fog, but by the sunset, it was crisp and clear up on top and, as it got cooler, the clouds formed an ocean of waves below us. So here are pictures of the ride up, the top, and the sunset on the way down.
And one panorama for you, too!
Below are a few more pics of the park for you to enjoy... take a walk with me!
More rain today and I needed a studio break, so I decided to head to one of the outlying areas of the park (Greenbriar), and check it out. I figure, when it is wet, go to the wet parts! It was a great decision, enough people to not feel totally out of touch, but far from the madding crowds. I drove to the end of the road, and planned on hiking a bit into the area, but after seeing the signage about bears, decided that might not be a good idea on my own. In bear country it is imperative that you are with someone you can outrun! So I just drove abut 5 MPH and got out a lot!
Sat and watched some kayakers for a while... again, when it is raining, get wet I guess! I had gotten there early, and it was just misting at that time, and it was raining harder and I was getting hungry, so headed fr the exit. I met the ranger who was putting out "Road Closed" signs and turning away more kayakers. I guess the forecast wasn't looking good, so they decided to shut down for the rest of the day. Glad I got in and out when I did.
On the way back into town I stopped at the grocery store (yes "the" not "an") to return my Red Box movie and ran into the Park volunteer coordinator, who was returning hers also... small town when you can run into the one person you know!
Here are the pics I took today... hope you enjoy them.
One of my favorite parts of Virginia Beach is the Pier. Especially in the early morning, when the gulls are flying, the men are fishing, and the sun is low. An added benefit is when a boat oor two come by also! This particular morning it was gray and soft, so the pictures are also.
This gallery is best viewed by clicking on one picture and scrolling through them so you can see the full crop!
Such a fun day! Today the farms that participate in the Charlottesville City Market opened their farms to the public for tours. We went to two of the farms; Double H and Caromont Farms.
At Double H we saw the pigs, turkeys and chickens they raise. We met the dogs that guard the animals, and saw the gardens of veggies that are planted, rotated and after the harvests are done, grazed and snuffled by the poultry and the pigs. The owners, Armenian immigrants Ara and Gayane Avagyan, gave us a very informative tour through the pens and gardens. They are all organic and self sufficient; doing all of the work themselves for the lat 11 years. It was evident that it is hard labor and a labor of love. They supply both produce and meat to many of the C'ville restaurants we go to, and now we will appreciate that food so much more, knowing what has gone into the making. (click on any of the photos to see a large image)
Next we went to Caromont Farm. They raise goats and are spectacular cheese makers. We got to meet Gail Hobbs-Page’s herd of Alpines, Saanens, and La Mancha goats. The goats were very friendly and even tried to sample my shirt! They started the first year by selling 300 pounds of cheese locally, and now sell about 30,000 pounds nationally. We sample the cheeses and had brats made and served by yet another local farm, and brought some fantastic feta home for our salads this week. (click on any of the photos to see a large image)
Another great part of the day was driving on the back roads of this beautiful Virginia countryside. I still can not get over the beauty of the red clay land against the vivid green foliage and blue sky. A perfect day.
As I said in and earlier post, my photos are my sketchbook. They train my eye, inspire me, and are just plain fun! But I really like it when one (or more) inspire me to stitch, cut, bead, add, subtract, or whatever to them so that they may gain the textures that fiber art can bring to them. So here are a few ways that I use my photos in my fiber art.
As whole cloth ...
Sometimes the photo is printed to become the basis for a whole cloth quilt. I loved the composition of this photo and didn't want to change a thing about that, but I wanted to add the grit and texture of a sidewalk with embellishments that included dryer lint, leaves, and found objects, as well as yards and yards of stitching. This is "Where the Sidewalk Starts"
As the inspired beginning...
Again, I really likes the photo, but not so much the crop, so I "enlarged it" piecing other fabrics to the photo. I also let the photo inspire the directional flow of the stitches, and the type of embellishments that I would include.
This finish quilt "The Blue Brush" includes about seven different photos, some collaged within the initial fabric printing, and others added later. The subject matter was far less important than the colors and textures of the photos. Most importantly, the photos had to integrate with the stitching, added fabrics and each other to form a cohesive composition.
Here are three different "auditions" for placement prior to sewing the collage together...
I have a large collection of sketchbooks and journals. All 98% empty. Artists are supposed to keep sketchbooks. I've been told, that we should be introspective and keep journals with our profound thoughts and creative musings. I am a semi-competent writer, and a better than average artist (so I have been told), but miserable at documentation.
This blog is the only journal-like-thing I have managed to keep going for any length of time!
One of my art professors, Walter Hamady, kept hand-bound, beautifully written and embellished journals. They were on hand made papers, and were works of beauty - meant to last the ages. My friend Lorie posts beautiful images from her sketchbook pages. Other friends have kept sketchbooks that were achingly inspirational; musings, sketches and collections of ephemera! I have scraps of paper, sometimes, kept in a cardboard box, and my collection of journals and sketchbooks that have the first pages desecrated with horrible attempts at self-conscience profundity.
But now I have photos. Hundreds - verging on thousands - not taken for reproduction or sales or even journalistic documentation (with the notable exception of the ones of my family). They are exercise for my eyes. They are calisthenics for my knowledge of design and composition. They slow me down and make me think and work - hard.
At first I just snapped away in 'automatic' mode with my trusty Fuji. but soon I found out that to 'sketch' the right photo, I needed to be able to adjust the depth-of-field, and pick an exposure. Just like sometimes you want to sketch in color, and sometimes in black and white - the same applies to photo sketching. So I upgraded the camera and learned more about my manual settings.
Photography is an art in itself. A laudable and incredibly diverse one. But not one that I (at least for now) find a satisfactory final artifact of my creativity. I use it as the basis of my fiber art; Sometimes quite literally when it is printed as an image in my whole cloth quilt pieces. More often, as the inspiration for the textures or colors in other pieces. It isn't about the specific photographic image for me. It is about taking that to a more universal place of color, texture, and emotion through the addition of other fabric, objects, and embellishments. In the end, I hope the photo is integrated with the fiber art to create something much more layered - both figuratively and literally - than the photo alone. Here is one example of that idea (click on either to see larger):
Here is a piece that uses seven different photos within the final piece:
I have been horse crazy since .... well since forever! It all started with a great rocking horse that my father made for me, and continued when I discovered that if I stuck a broom, handle down, into the folded roll-away bed in our basement, I would have almost a full-sized 'horse' to ride on. The covey of kids in our neighborhood used to play cowboys and Indians... I was the horse! As a young teen, I actually got to ride real ones! Until one threw me off (my fault not his) onto a manure spreader and I broke a few bones. My parents weren't too keen when I wanted to get back on after I healed. My family has taken a horse-pack trip into the Rockies - probably my favorite vacation ever. I even past the "cowboy test" (next time we have a beer I will tell you that story!)
The love of all things equine includes carousel horses. They are beauties frozen in time. Yes, some weird carousels have lions and dragons and various other creatures and some even have (the horror of it all) benches.
Those are fine for others, but for me give me the horse. The one with head bowed just before rearing, or the one with fire in his eyes, the black steed who, I know, comes alive at night, and, now untethered, out runs the rest...
In downtown Charlottesville, there is a small carousel. No calliope or barker, no lights, just some patient small steeds ready to fulfill a child's dream with a push from a parent or friend. I have talked to them, and watched them many times, but today I finally found them at rest. Not a child in sight! ALL MINE!!! We communed for a while while they frolicked and posed for me. I took portraits of them... each in their own private mood.
Today we walked up a couple of blocks to the 'International Celebration' in one of Charlottesville's many parks. It was a display of cultures, causes, food and music, but what I couldn't get over were the textiles. Draped, and cut and embroidered, and embellished, and woven and batik-ed; it was all there. So much color and beauty and pride! Here is a slideshow of just some of the textiles I saw.
Yesterday was one of those wonderful days in life where it is just plain good to be alive. The weather was perfect; I was spent it with a new friend, who is also both a photographer and a fiber artist (and, as an added benefit, seems to approach life with the same pace and gusto as I do); And we spent it on and around the Blue Ridge Parkway - one of the most spectacular drives in the U.S.A. It is dotted and crossed with numerous paths for the casual geezer or the intrepid Appalachian trail through hiker. While I was sure today I would wake up stiff from the climbing, bending, walking, etc, it is my neck that is sore! I think it is from the constant looking around. There was no end to the details and vistas to soak in, and of course, photo!
We even had to come to a screeching halt when a hawk swooped down to get a snake, but saw us and flew off. Note: if you ever see a snake, and decide to check it out, be sure to look at it with your longest lens first, to see if it is a rattle snake. Then, if it is, get back in the car!!!
The wildflowers were stupendous! I have never seen so many trillium in my life (see the top picture on this post), jack-in-the-pulpits, rhododendron (which I assume were only found in floral stores!), May apples (not quite in bloom yet, but covering the forest floor) and untold numbers of flowers whose names I do not know.
Then, there were my favorites; the mosses, lichens, and ferns. The understated textural plants that grab for the sun at this time of year, before the tree leaves cover it up for the summer. Covering the rocks, the logs, the trees, and hanging on for dear life!
Here is some of the plant life we encountered; to see the pictures larger and in their full crop, click on them.
Then there are the views. You may remember an earlier post I did (last fall) about photos from this same drive. It was amazing to see it in the next season! Here are a slide show of some of the vistas for you.
There was a post in one of my Facebook groups the other day, that posed the question "what inspires you?". A question that is posed to artists a lot, and is interesting to ponder. When I first went to college (at Minneapolis Art Institute) it was the rocking and rebellious late 60s and beginning of the 70s. Statement was king. Art was 'purposeful' (but extremely strange) and what you were saying about your work was often more important that how you created it. I found a lack of profundity in my work. I made stuff because I needed to make, not say. While I had political and social views, communicating them through my work was not important to me. I reveled in color and composition. I wanted to draw, not pontificate. So I left the fine art world for the world of advertising and design. There I could use my talent to express the message of others. That was fine with me.
Now I am back in the more finer side of art! Making things - not for purpose - but for .... uhm.... well.... maybe... not really sure what 'for'! Because I can? Because I need too? Because I have the time now. But back to the question "what inspires me?" Little things. I take great joy in the world around me. I am blessed with eyes that see in compositional and artistic ways. I have only, in later life's moments, realized that not everyone sees what/how I see. So that is what inspires me. Looking around documenting what/how I see and hoping it expands the sight of others. (I still leave the politics and social statements to other artists!)
Last night this balloon went over our house. It was very pretty from that vantage point, but I knew that from my urban mountain-top perch on top of the parking ramp, it would be better. So I ran there. and watched and waited until it passed by the setting sun; there was the sight that I wanted you to see. The inspiration was the balloon, but how I see it is the picture. The Grand Canyon is awesome (in the true sense of the word) but equally as awesome can be the sidewalk shadows right under our feet, or the kid marching across the street. Stop and take a look sometime, it will inspire you.
I purchased a beautiful spring bouquet at the Farmers' Market. Soon the inevitable happened, the stems weakened and the petals became frail. As I went to throw them out, I realized they hadn't stopped being beautiful, it was just a new type of beauty. A more subtle beauty, and a more unique beauty individually forged through their experience. Sounds kind of like a number of us, huh!?
This getting older stuff is, as they say, "not for sissies". But it does have its upsides, and once it happens to you you actually can see some of those.
I was sitting around a table with about a dozen other women last week. There was colorful clothing, funky haircuts, and vibrant talk of adventures, creations, personal history, families and hopes. Most (with the exception of a couple of young whipper-snappers) were women "of a certain age". That age where we have ceased to worry so much about thighs and more about thoughts. We have histories; we have survived traumas - emotional and physical; we have traveled -geographically and educationally; we have cried - with joy and sadness; we have loved and been loved; we have lived.
And now we know life is finite, so we embrace it more fully and a little tighter than when we thought it had no end. We have learned that beauty is not just for the perfect and youthful, that there can be even deeper beauty in the imperfect and aged. We express and create out of internal need, not just external applause. We are almost comfortable... much of the time. We are beautiful, even past our prime.
This is our first spring here in Virginia, and all I can say is "wowsers!!! When one is used to the momentary spring that appears between winter and road construction in Wisconsin, Virginia redefines the word spring! The warm hits and the snow is gone - without leaving grey mounds of debris in its wake! The blooms have time to sway and glisten in the breeze and mist of spring rains and sunshine! I could get used to this! Good thing I got a new camera just in time! Click any of these to see them larger and as a slide show.
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !