Inspired Summer

I am not yet ready to write about my experience this summer, maybe I never will, but I did take many photos, and then yesterday I painted an image from one of those photos.

So the lake I paddle in, I will not name it because of the stalker, sad, anyway, there are in the outer edges what I call the tree graveyard.  There are many stumps of trees sticking out of the water, and also underneath there are many logs, when you paddle through it is like an obstacle course.

I began by drawing from the photo I took, since painting while in the canoe is not really an option.  I love this particular branch sticking out of the water because when I first saw it I thought it was a bird standing on the end, and as I paddle closer I thought it looked like a dragon.  As I look back through my photos from this summer, I see I took a few pictures of it, on different days.

I then went to my art area and painted, forgetting everything, the phone, the internet, using the bathroom, everything, completely lost in each stroke.  I had a teacher in high school, whom I overheard talking to another student about painting hair, and that moment when you get so lost in painting hair that you forget what you are painting.  That was me yesterday, painting the twisted and gnarled branches.

I love Georgia O’Keeffe and I did go to a show of hers in Glens Falls this summer, and there is no doubt that I was inspired by her while I was painting.  She has always inspired me.  But I think in some ways I did what she couldn’t.  She did not like the Adirondacks, found it too green, painted dark and blocky paintings of the grounds of the Stieglitz estate, twisted the ubiquitous birches into some nearly unrecognizable form, but there are bright lights from this time though, short star bursting breaks into the artist she would become.  But I do not find the Adirondacks to be so green, if you look and love this place with all your heart, the green goes away and all the other colors come out.  The green becomes like your skeleton, its there, it supports everything, but it is not all, and in the winter the green is gone.

Anyway.

Here is my painting.

Dragon in the Tree Graveyard

Dragon in the Tree Graveyard

Trip into Town

I am truly an introvert, these windy, sunshiney scattered shower days are so deeply quiet, so deeply fulfilling.  The neighbor, who is only here for two weeks, checks in periodically, to charge something electric, to shower with his wife and children, to ask if there is anything I need, or stops along the road to ask me if I have picked any wild blueberries yet.  Other than that my only human interaction is a phone call from my mom, to my daughter, the pirate in his way only answers his phone, he is incapable of calling.  The counselor told me, before I left to plan outings into public, but I hardly need it, I am feeling astonishingly strong and deeply moved, and touched by mother earth.  Herons abound.
But each time I venture into one of the towns nearby, I am rewarded with just the right things.  Today I am absolutely dizzy with congestion in my sinus, I found eucalyptus rub, and a book by Rosemary Gladstar, outlining several of her herbal remedies that are in the correspondence course on loan from my friend.  Oh yes and wasabi, ginger chocolate truffles.

COLTSFOOT

Colstfoot leaves ( I believe)

calendula

Calendula Flower

herbalremedy

Barkeaters Chocolates and Funny River Trading, both local businesses.

 

I have loved the quiet, and the long walks with the dogs, and the breeze keeping the bugs at bay.  Especially the breeze keeping the bugs at bay.

Today I raided my friend’s cupboards, pulling out skullcap and lobelia, and vodka to make tinctures with fresh herbs from her garden, some to dry on her screen, though she has plenty of all jarred in the basement.  Tomorrow I have to go and get more vodka, I used up the last drops, not much more than four shots worth, but I hate to leave her empty.  These tinctures designed to help me sleep.  Plus I stole a little of her mullein oil and put some fresh mullein flowers in it, to make ear drops for my daughter, who suffered terribly with ear infections as a baby, and still has to have the wax removed from her ears, and has frequent ear aches.

Herbal Tinctures

Herbal Tinctures

Off to deliver some cucumbers and squash to the neighbor, they will go bad before the family returns, and are more than I can possibly eat.

Stunning Morning

I dream of feeding whole wheat bread to salmon in a deep clear river, they see me, they know who I am, they watch clandestine waiting for the right moment to take the bread, for they are hungry.  Later I go to a crypt with a group of other people, and we drag out the oily black (black not brown) shriveled monster that has lived on despite attempts to bury it, to let it die, and we carry it up the steps of a sacred building, and up to the turrets, and we wait for a bolt of lightening to kill it dead once and for all as it is destined to die at this moment in this place.

I wake with little sleep, restless early in my sleep.

I stir the dogs with talk of walk.

rosemallow

I notice it right away, the way the forest is alive, not the usually sound of birds, and water and yesterday’s raindrops, and bugs, but a breathing, as though the rain has awakened the forest from a slumber and it is yawning and stretching towards the brilliant sun and bright blue sky.

webs

I notice too how much easier this walk is than it was when I first came here.  I no longer return home a sweaty panting mess, and the dog too is more lively and energetic, and these other two, this morning stay close to me, with H. on my heels beside Sancho most of the way up.

CAM00052

It is a spider web morning.   That is what I call it, as I notice the webs scattered along the way, I never saw them before, it must be the light.  The forest is full of them.

spidersky

I cannot stop marveling in its stunning beauty.  This morning.

This ordinary morning, this everyday walk, this unremarkable stream, this scarred wilderness.

stunningam

River of Life

“…my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests.” ~Pablo Neruda

neophyte

This is so hard, this rich, rocky, roaring, beautiful, deep river of life.

My thoughts as I am in my bed, the sound of the stream below singing to me, as it always does.  A hard evening, but not too hard, just hard emotionally.  Hard but sometimes the right things, the good things, are hard.

I curse God sometimes, you know, for all this hurt heaped on me, she tells me as we drive into town, you have not had it easy.  No, I have not.   How many times have I gone over it, again and again, this sordid story of my daughter’s father.  With him, until my throat hurts, with myself until my brain hurts, with my child as my soul aches, with my mother as my heart breaks, after the death of my father, after the leaving of my husband.  I wanted to fix it, I wanted it fixed, but some things, somethings are not fixable. And in a branch of the same twisting fault line, I have gone over it again and again, all the bending over backwards I did to make my marriage work, and all for nothing.

So as I go over this fitful in my sleep, and on my morning constitutional, as I go over it, I realize that in this regard my prayers have been answered, not in the way I asked for it, but in a way that works.  I see her grandmother now, in the intense way of this woman in the deep way she cares.  I see in him, her uncle, a snapshot of her father,  as he should be, as he could have been, without all the mind altering substances, and mental acrobatics.  His manners, his interests, his deep thoughtfulness, his intelligence.  We share much, we, this odd grouping, of the son, who is his son through action, and her, and him and me.  With this wreckage between us, and this shining light above us, around us.  We who would not know one another were it not for this, this one thing.  A writer, an artist nay, painter, teachers, readers, music lovers, fishermen, hikers, gardeners, homesteaders, Zen dabblers, mountains, rocks, nature lovers.  Yes this we have in common, but that, that too.

I am self conscious, and in it I am awkward, I feel always the left over burning scar of blame.  I could not do it differently, but I know that the blame is raw on my flesh.  On my heart.  And when I try to put it into words, they seem inadequate, as awkward as my hands without a cigarette (for years) or my hands without a coffee mug in the mornings, as awkward as my hands without a cell phone in the wilderness, a livable awkwardness.  This self consciousness a constant swinging weight on my life.  (How I wish I could cut it and walk away).

I tell her, or try to, and she answers me with love, love of me, love for my child.

But this is what is sent in his place, family that is there for my child, family that embraces and welcomes me, family that finds her a joy to be around, on her terms, when she is ready for it, and family that for what it is worth, is why I loved her father, once, why I thought our child deserved more, more than drunken rages, abuse, anger, the cold shoulder, drugs, joblessness, homelessness, poverty, and deep seated depression and despair.

I think too, on my failed marriage, that feeling I had that it wasn’t me so much and at the same time that it was all me, all my fault.  I mean I know I am not perfect, but when you are with people who are not well, you too become unwell.  I cannot express this well, and have to think on it more, but one way I illustrate it in my crazy mind, is to say, I was never a jealous woman until I was married, I am not a jealous woman now, though I have seen my Pirate only a few days all summer.  I left my daughter’s father when I was pregnant, it was not about the leaving, it was about the unhealthiness, I think.  I was always jealous and possessive of the ex.  And I see that the stalker has her own issues with distrust, since she liked being up my ass so much.  It isn’t me, it isn’t her, it is inherent reason for mistrust.  There is an unhealthiness there, only it is more subtle, and well hidden, with lots of subterfuge.  How did I miss it though, and why did I believe, when all the signs were like billboards screaming at me to see.

And I think, as I walk, of this other thing I ask for, for closure, for understanding, not just of the why, but of my own inability to heal from it.  I have healed from the other wounds, I have become stronger, wiser, more compassionate, and have begun the return journey to the Earth, but I have not healed from that.  But there is no answer, perhaps I will have to wait another 16 years to have it.  I yearn for it, though, yearn for an answer, yearn for understanding, yearn for the scar to fade from this festering thing, deep inside of me.  Will it ever leave my mind?

I once told him, as he was leaving that he was the worst thing that ever happened to me, after he told me, from his new apartment, and with his new woman in his heart, that I was (somehow) the best thing that had ever happened to him, and I cannot rectify this dichotomy.  Because he is, even worse than being abandoned for a sheet of LSD by my daughter’s father, for a bales of marijuana, for broken inanimate objects, the sting of a smacking hand and a seething rage.  It is worse than putting myself through college and being broke for years and years, and worse than being bullied in school, and of never quite fitting in, it is worse than all the sleepless nights of my life, worse than anything I can think of, and there is still no closure, the wound still gapes and pulses, and aches.  I want it to fall away with the sweep of my mental knife, like that self consciousness.

She tells me in an email that I am funny, thoughtful, smart, sensitive, interesting, amazing, tremendously wise, and loved.

He once called me charming, and lovely.

And as I share my fears and thoughts on some of this with A. (weeks before) she tears up, and tells me she cannot imagine their lives without me.

But I do not understand any of this.

If I were all of these things, I would have closure.  If I were all of these things, I would be healed.  If I were something, really something, it wouldn’t be this hard.

Would it?

This is my soul laid bare.  Do not chastise me for it.  Nor should others, these men, these situations, be torn apart…

I struggle so with these questions and seek for truth.

On my way home, in the setting sun and long mountain shadows, I see a great blue heron standing on a giant boulder, in the middle of this deep and cutting river that gouged out part of the road and is still under repair from hurricane Irene.

This wreckage, this beautiful river, with the sun sparkling on it, with its deeply shadowed pools, with its towering mountain walls and its rocky bed, and rushing gorges.  This wreckage, this river is so hard.

jellyfish