Where are the thunder showers the weather scientists keep predicting? I will not go outside in this unrelenting sunshine today. My sunglasses are surely not dark enough to protect my eyes from those blasting UV rays reflecting off absolutely everything. Walking slowly outside in the morning before the sun is very high, I try to remember what it is like to have a cool, damp, dark, rainy day, when the moisture in the air is glistening on every surface. The drought this summer seems much longer than last years midsummer annual drought. The lawn, that normally needs mowing, weed-eating and trimming every week, is no longer green. It is bleached almost white from the sun and crunchy sounding when you walk on it, no more mowing is needed. This area of Tennessee has a lot of rock and not much topsoil. Once that porous limestone underneath that smidgen of dirt heats up, without any rain or cloudy days to cool it, all the lawns, beautiful gardens, and trees, bleach and dry up until it looks more like Arizona than Tennessee.
When I am not painting, taking people on tours to far off lands, or writing, I try to grow things. No matter where I have lived, I have always had plants to care for. Leaving my home state and moving to Cape Cod in my wonderful old ’65 Chevy Impala in 1979, my car looked like a terrarium as I was going down the road. I could barely see to drive. Every plant from my apartment came right along with me. To this day, living again in this beautiful state of Tennessee, when spring arrives I jump at the challenge of planting an outdoor garden.
I don a brand new pair of gardening gloves, a very special pair of gardening shoes, a large brimmed hat and get ready to run the race of creating color in places where none remains from the year before. Always an optimist, I work excitedly in my gardens, planning all the places for beautiful things to grow, working with my hands until they are calloused, my nails are nubs, and my back is so sore I can barely stand back up again from being stooped over digging and planting all day. Only now does my enthusiasm begin to wane. Late summer hot and dry. At least my hands are clean, my nails look better and my back is no longer aching. Even though my gardens have shriveled once again, I know that when the cool fall winds begin to blow in the next few weeks, I will be shopping again for sales on flower bulbs to plant for beautiful blooms next spring. Optimism. Such a great thing. Looking ahead with a light heart expectant of a much rainier tomorrow.
This past week, I was remembering the way the sun glows when it shines through all that moisture in the air that I saw this past spring while visiting that very wet, waterlogged country of Ireland. Travel memories help refresh my thoughts and sweep those incessant dry, dusty, cobwebs of thought from my mind. I was standing in the Castle Pub, early evening all alone.
After a long day of intermittent rain and sun, typical for Ireland, the sun had burst through the clouds over the river and was glistening on the single lane road that winds up to the Castle. Suddenly, I noticed in the afternoon light, trotting with the sun at their backs, was a small group of tenacious individuals who were riding horses in the rain. The golden glow of the sun on their backs and the color being created for that moment was just magnificent! I stood there knowing it was a moment in time I would cherish in my mind’s eye for many years to come. It was breathtaking as Ireland often is, when the sun shines through the clouds at the end of the day. When I did these two paintings recently of that evening, I painted them very small, as sketches for larger paintings. If you would like to see the paintings when I have completed the large studio works, drop me an email and I will send you a copy of them.
I will be conducting more tours for Artists, Writers, and Explorers next spring and fall. There will be opportunities for all sorts of creative expression and exploration in some of the most beautiful locations in the world. Join me in France next June and Ireland next fall!