Rampant Dust

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Travel affords us a change of perspective – our surroundings are different, our thoughts also change, and often are accompanied by a sense of renewal. My recent travels in the Midwest brought this welcome newness.  Waiting through an airline delay, I had the opportunity to revisit Mary Oliver’s excellent essays in her book, Long Life. I was stunned at the depth of synchronicity between her words and my own thoughts and experiences.

      “A certain lucent correspondence has served me, all my life, in the ongoing search for my deepest thoughts and feelings. It is the relationship of my own mind to landscape, to the physical world–especially to that part of it with which, over the years, I have (and not casually) become intimate….  Opulent and ornate world, because at its root, and its axis, and its ocean bed, it swings through the universe quietly  and  certainly.  It is: fun, and familiar, and healthful, and unbelieveably refreshing, and lovely.  And it is the theater of the spiritual; it is the multiform utterly obedient to a mystery. 
    And here I build a platform, and live upon it, and think my thoughts, and aim high.  To rise, I must have a  field to rise from.  To deepen, I must have a bedrock from which to descend.  …  It is the intimate, never the general, that is teacherly.  The idea of love is not love. The idea of ocean is neither salt nor sand; the face of the seal cannot rise from the idea to stare at you, to astound your heart. Time must grow thick and merry with incident, before thought can begin. 
    It is one of the perils of our so-called civilized age that we do not yet acknowledge enough, or cherish enough, this connection between soul and landscape — between our own best possibilities, and the view from our own windows.  We need the world as much as it needs us, and we need it in privacy, intimacy, and surety.  We need the field from which the lark rises–bird that is more than itself, that is the voice of the universe: vigorous, godly joy.

                pp. 89-91, Long Life, by Mary Oliver, 2004, Da Capo Press. 
 
   I have traveled from home, to home, observing as I go, the multitudinous forms of the fields, woods, and trees. Their abundant energies contain a graceful calm, a renewing resilience. To be in their presence is one of those gifts I cannot overlook; the rampant dust of this world coats all of us. I welcome the dusting and leakage into my work.
Trees At the Garden, West, watercolor on prepared yupo, 14″x11″, image 9.5″ diameter. $350. Available immediately.