Often we hear that expression, 'I love nature', and it rings true despite the ‘cruelty’ of predation, the devastation of ‘acts of nature’ like earthquakes or mudslides and the occasional slaps in the face of branches, bites of spiders and other inconveniences like the cold or heat or dog bites or chickens pecking and eating each other. I love sunsets and the glint of the sun on water, the textures of rocks and dead trees and the stars and the beauty of life forms walking around, the sleekness of a cougar and the oddity of a buffalo, the attraction of a buffalo gourd and just walking around in ‘it’; feeling the breeze, feeling the earth sponge beneath my feet, getting the compositions of the players (the twigs and flowers and branches and sky and algae and grasses and light and leaves and the smells and a bird or two) in nature all commingling together . The last few days sort of snuck up on me this time, though and kind of forced me to look and then think (god forbid).
What happened was: well, first I went into a wilderness park with my grandchildren and walked deep into it and was on a crest that actually had a bench way up there (despite being in the wilderness)and so we stopped and sat and snacked. I heard the sound that I know is turkeys off in the woods and they did not stop, so I loosened up my lips and sort of hummed out of them while shaking my head side to side frantically while my lips banged wildly against themselves and made a credible gobble. The turkeys in the woods responded, then moved closer, then came into a clearing and every time I ‘gobbled’, they did back and then a male framed himself perfectly in my view and spread out his feathers in full display; a perfect snapshot of the situation and then walked out of view just as I got the camera out. Then we went to the ocean briefly, a bit of a drive, and there we were in deep profound nature and waves crashing on the rocky shore and on rock islands in full view displaying Victoria fall effects as the water subsided from the rock face after the crashes and with a sea gull standing stoicly and close to me on top of the rock, never moving despite the uncomfortable conversational distance boundaries that I have known for them, as I climbed a boulder island shelf to experience the experience with Torsten, the 1 year old grandson. I took many pictures only to discover later that I had taken the memory card out to download into my computer earlier and forgot to replace it.
Upon returning to Spirit Valley and Santa Fe, I walked outside in the middle of the night to grab some more firewood as I had run low in the house, having mostly smaller sticks to burn as the winter is mostly over and the trip to California had disrupted my gatherings and cuttings. I had seen a full moon through the bathroom glazing earlier so I glanced up to see where it was out there in the later night sky and all I saw was a dull blood red moon that had the appearance of a moon in smog in the city. It took some adjusting time but then I decided that I was looking a full eclipse and so I gazed for a while and went back in only checking it out they way we do these days and , sure enough, what I experienced was what I thought it was.
Earlier that day I had been down by the creek and there was a lot of algae due to the constant lowish flow of the water and the nutrients in the creek and the warmish weather we had been experiencing. I decided to touch it and then move the slippery glumps from a waterfall-like spot and clear it out and threw it up on the bank where I considered that it might make better soil up there and promote stabilization. I poked around and looked at the willows I had jammed into the rivers bank in an area that had been devastated by a large flood and lost a lot of the cut bank and I wanted them to grow and stabilize, again, that area. I found some alive and swollen with life and ready to bud and leaf and I was happy about that.
Then I was called for jury selection in town and I was somewhat conflicted as I got into my recently deceased mother’s old Toyota Tercel, blue, that I had decided looked more artistically and philosophically interesting if it had a simple old rack of aluminum clamps and barnwood 2 x 4s and some steel pipes stubbed on it and a large interesting rustic weathered root/tree branch affair with lots of interest and legs and curves and sculptural qualities that I had extricated from a spot up near Montezumas Castle along the Gallina River in Las Vegas; exercising what I call “artist’s license”’; a self- proclaimed right to do just what I was doing. I got into the rig knowing that it was somewhat inconsistent with the mainstream situation of being on a jury in a courtroom downtown; I still have ambivalence and some shame about the vehicle due to its age, its wear, it lack of moderness. It has the same qualities that an old dead tree has and that the root on top of it has; the feeling you have when you look at a very old person; a combination of repulsion and attraction to the process that is right in front of you. My art, as an artist, often deals with this subject; the texture of life in its less than slick moments, often, reflecting the question; what is nature, what is death, what is old age and how can I relate in various ways. I am not sure it is cutting edge, but, depite the uneasiness I feel; it is what I do. It has to do with honesty and staring into the face of nature in its less glorious but perhaps more profound ‘wabi sabi’ moments. The car runs well and gets good mileage and is a pleasure to drive, so I take it out often, despite the cringing feelings and shame I also have. I think I got out of jury duty because of the same peripatetic overly circumspect nature that I have and I could not quite grasp that I would be judging something with the limitation that I would not know what the penalty for the crime being examined was; I could put a heroin addict, if he was one, in jail when he should probably be in a situation that addressed his addiction more fruitfully. There were quite a few others who felt the way I did and it was a great education for me.
I walked back to the parking garage with a friend of mine from my early recovery from alcohol addiction, from some 20 years ago and then I remembered that I think I owed him a lunch from back in those days, so I invited him to the Bite to satisfy that old debt. I got into the car and headed for the café which was maybe 4 to 6 blocks away and I heard what sounded like the flap of a strap on the roof of the car and I was puzzled because I study the nature of materials as an artist and a craftsperson and as most people do, actually, and I had a hard time identifying this sporadic sound situation. It did not sound like there was an immediate cause for concern and might be a bungee cord that had gotten loose and was knocking around some in the breeze of the motion. I got out and then there it was; a pigeon was face to face with me and I could see its toes tapping on the roof as it walked towards the edge and we were locked in the moment in something that I found interesting, especially in the category of the love of nature. It walked towards me from under the sticks then lept off the blue sedan into the blue sky without an further ado. Of course, I did not have time to get a picture, again. I did though, this morning, as I prepared mentally to go back to the shop and start carving the panel I am making for some furniture, for the door, cause she wanted, perhaps, a bird on a twig and I had drawn the twigs and branches and pine needle motif and the birds there, based on one (a little sort of curved billed thrasher) I had cast in cast iron a while back, but it looked too small, I thought the other day. So now, with the help of this event, I found what I was going to carve on the door; a pigeon; my new friend in town…..and commemorate our journey from the county court house to the desert inn.