Years ago, when I worked as a waitress, I spent time with one of my co-workers who was an artist first, server second.
Oil, watercolors, sculpting clay – no matter the medium, she could bring something of beauty to life.
She was also a rather liberated soul – – I admit I’m rather naive and probably somewhat of a prude. Sometimes her comments on life made me blush and after her initial discovery, she took delight in making me turn red as often as she could.
The first time I visited her home, what should I see on her living room coffee table but a life sized, sculpted model of a male’s, um, well, you know… important appendage….complete with wrinkled skin, veins and well, EVERYTHING.
Yes, she had to give me three beers before I could stammer out, “You Made That?!? On purpose??”
Tonight though, I was thinking of her because of Purple Dinosaurs.
She told me about the little soul in kindergarten that was told to draw their favorite animal. And they did – – a big, purple dinosaur. Front half on the front of the paper – back half on the back side – – if you photocopied them and laid them side by side, they matched up perfectly.
A beautiful, to scale piece of art, by one who was 5 years of age.
That child nearly didn’t become an artist.
Well, you see the teacher told her it wasn’t right – she was supposed to draw the entire picture on just the front side of the paper – and draw it properly so it fit. It didn’t matter that the paper was too small to hold her grand vision. She was supposed to downsize her creation to fit the canvas provided by someone else.
She always maintained we each have our own, big, beautiful, Purple Dinosaur – – and that at some point, someone, somewhere will tell us why our Purple Dinosaur is wrong, too big or not proper.
She inspired others to create their own Purple Dinosaurs – –
I’ve never forgotten that story – – and even now, nearly 30 years later, when I re-tell this story, I also tell people how wonderfully done and realistic that sculpture on her coffee table was…even if it wasn’t purple… or extinct….
This long winter many of my bloggy pals here have posted pictures of their winter landscape – full of leafless trees and often, I gaze upon a picture and am taken back in time to the ONE time I got a good grade in art….
I was young – perhaps 2nd or 4th grade. Paper, pencil or charcoal were the only allowed mediums that quarter of art class.
Faced with a fat charcoal stick, a blank page, and the first basic lessons of how to hold the charcoal in different ways to get different effects (and how to remember not to rub your face with the hand that held the charcoal stick….) I made a few tentative lines….
Thick and black and harsh –
Then a few more, smaller and branching out….
Then I smudged the bottom where I had started, with a hand resting while trying to decide where…
For some time now, I’ve been thinking about rivers, in all their forms and fashions.
So, while 5 works to be further edited and honed, sit in my ‘Draft folder’ here?
I’m gonna share some quotes, books, movies and some pics of mine, from long ago.
Why? Well flash flooding here and there, in my area, due to long drought and/or fire areas now we are once more getting rain, daily or sometimes, all at once.
I have extended family and kin in Kentucky and one has yet to check in with anyone/reply to text messages sent, since July 27th or so. Unknown status and yet, no need to overwhelm communications when other family members are closer and in more recent contact with them.
Thus, the hope for the best time of waiting, continues on.
And well – the river of Life and Work has been washing over me for a long time, and some days? All I can do to keep my head above water – thus –
A River Runs Through It
I like the book and the movie; which is surprising, as I rarely do.
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”
Norman Maclean, from the book
Each of one of us here today will, at one time in our lives, look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question…
“We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed?”
For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give, or more often than not, the part we have to give, is not wanted.
And so it is those we live with and should know, who elude us.
But we can still love them.
We can love completely, without complete understanding.
A River Runs Through It, Movie
“I did not know that stories of life are often more like rivers than books.”
A fellow fan of Janice Holt Giles, and her tales of Kentucky in the early days, once introduced me to Follow the River.
Written by James Alexander Thom, and while it was a rougher read, overall, than Hannah Fowler’s story told, of capture/escape from natives in the land early, early days when Kentucky was considered the ‘wild frontier’….
It was worth the read.
For just like Janice’s works, it paints a picture of long ago – where folks did the best they could – and everyone had their side of the story, whether native, conqueror or those simply seeking out a place to carve out of the wilderness a forever home of their own.
What happens as the world changes, what folks will do when losing, adjusting, starving, sick or poisoned into delusions because a plant unknown to them, was the only thing that seemed edible for the night.
And what we hold on to keep going, back to a world we might know, and how we keep our sanity when there is nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other.
Also, about what we walk away from, to survive, even though, we can’t believe how the other person changed and even once the stress/hard times are over?
We can’t ever go back to feeling the same way about them as we once did, ever again.
There are no two souls closer than predator and prey
But most of all, I feel kinship with Helen-Tehanita’s story told by Benjamin Capps. It is of the land south of me, but is the external and internal landscape I recognize, no matter how many years have passed since I first or last read it.
The sand creeks and arroyos that fill or flash flood with water in good years of moisture, and remain dry at other times or for many years in a row.
The wide range of colors painted across the sky and how each shade plays out morning, night and during storms passing through….
The never ending sea of grassland blown into waving, by the wind, that makes some folks go mad, but I find beautiful.
Sometimes a piercing loneliness came through her from viewing the skies in the summer nights. The other women of the lodge wanted skins over their beds, or a thick leaf roof, but she would move away a little distance to be under open sky, seeking some nameless comfort.
If sleep did not come, or any thoughts to occupy her, and if the moon lay up in her place, distant and silent, then she might be taken in by the sad solitude.
She would feel that she was the only living person on an earth that stretched away for mute distances, that the sky and earth were one thing held together by moonlight, that she had no one to turn to, but must face the emptiness by herself. Sometimes it was almost too much to bear. Then she might rise and pull her robe over nearer the other women where she could hear their breathing. If, then, Old Woman started to snore, it seemed a comfort and a good thing.
A Woman of the People, Chapter 9, The Offer of Nine Horses
But often, I think of how the joining of the river comes for everyone, those I love, and me, too.
“Eventually the watcher joined the river, and there was only one of us. I believe it was the river.”