2 April 2016

Beginning The Day: The Moment

Beginning The Day

Beginning The Day

There is a single moment, it seems to me, when our day begins, when the boundary  between night and day is crossed, and that is the opening of the pasture gate. As soon we are move about the house, Chloe and the donkeys gather at the gate, waiting to be fed, perhaps get a treat, maybe get brushed.

All eyes are on Maria – the dogs waiting for the signal to go through the gate, the ponies and the donkeys eager for some food.

The dogs have rushed to the gate from the house and watch Maria and I closely – they are commanded to "stay" or "wait" until the gate is open.  They are literally quivering in anticipation. They are rapt. Maria often looks back to see where I am, I am always coming behind them with the camera, and when they all enter the pasture, I turn on the water hose and then come into help shovel the manure and direct the dogs to move the sheep around or keep them off of Maria.

Then, our day is underway, and this morning, the staff was assembled at the gate, at the moment our day  begins.

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Winter Road By Rachel Barlow

Winter Road

Winter Road

Maria bought me this Rachel Barlow watercolor called "Winter Road" as a birthday present for me, she'll pick it up in August, it will go along on Rachel's other shows until then. I love the work, it is rare to see a soft and beautiful evocation of the winter landscape, especially one without snow.

Rachel captured the feel of winter, the beautiful grayness of it, there is still life in this photo and warmth, but there is also the absence of color and light and the feel of the winter road. Thanks Maria. Rachel's watercolor sketches are almost shockingly inexpensive, you can see them on her red-hot website. They won't be inexpensive for long.

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Rachel Barlow, Rachel Barlow. Go To Your Self.

Joy, Joy

Joy, Joy

Rachel Barlow gave me one of the great gifts of my life today, she had her own show at the Arlington, Vt., library, and it was both crowded and successful. Rachel is one of the people I most admire and appreciate in the world, and one of the most courageous and talented.

She has been a student of mine in my blog and writing workshops for four or five years now, and she learns every day and every week and becomes more creative by the hour. When I met Rachel, she was hesitant and confused to even call herself a writer or illustrator.

She writes with great humor and compassion, and her watercolors are simply gorgeous and affirming. She can't stop painting and sketching these days, she rides all over the country.

Racgek suffers from bi-polar disorder and depression, something she has written openly about. Sometimes, her depression was so paralyzing she could hardly paint or write. She has plenty of things to deal with still, some of them will always be present. But she has found her creative path, and it has steadied and uplifted her. She is riding a wave on it.

Rachel never stopped, listening, learning, searching. She started a successful blog, began writing, sketching and lately, doing beautiful and simple watercolors that are selling all over New York and Vermont and on her website, My Sketchy Life: The Art And Cartoons of Rachel Barlow.

She has never stopped coming to class. I feel sometimes as if  Rachel and I are growing up together.

Watching Rachel work, grow, learn and blossom has been as great a pleasure as any writer or teacher should have. The creative spark is fierce in her, and her goal is to eventually live and work full-time as an artist. If she keeps going like this, it won't be long, Rachel has shows and appearances scheduled for months ahead. And people are loving her work and buying her work.

Rachel is a wonderful wife and mother and friend, there were long weeks when I didn't see her smile, now she is smiling much of the time. It sounds strangely formal to say, but i am so proud of her, and so happy to share her wonderful afternoon with you. Lots of us struggle and suffer. Rachel reminds us to never give up. Go to yourself. Be fulfilled.

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The Return Of Color And Light

Living Room WIndow

Living Room Window

Spring is an important season for us, it marks the return of color and light, important elements for our emotional lives and for our work. The azaleas and daffodils on the living room window brighten our home and herald what is soon to come. It was not a dark winter, but it was, like all winters, colorless. We are grateful to have the color back.

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On  Grandfathering

On Grandfathering: Daughter With Miss Pearl

I'm going to be a grandfather sometime in August, it's an as yet unnamed girl, born to my daughter Emma Span and her husband Jay Jaffe, both journalists covering the baseball world in New York. Jay blogs about baseball for Sports Illustrated on their website, and Emma is a senior editor at the magazine.

I got a bit of a jolt when I saw the photos of my granddaughter in the womb. I am also grateful that Miss Pearl, my beautiful Lab who went to live with Emma in Brooklyn, is still around to meet her. Pearl is old and creaky but doing well, Emma has taken wonderful care of her, re-furbished legs and all.

I was a bit shocked to hear of this, although I knew Emma and Jay were thinking about it. I'm excited, but also realistic.

We don't live too close to one another, and i don't think I'll be one of those grandparents who will be rushing to the city every week to take care of the grandkid. I don't think my life will change much, I think Emma's life will change a lot. I loved taking care of Emma, it was one of the great experiences of my life.

BuI don't think they will be spending too much time up here, they love the city and their lives there are very full.

I have a friend who drives hours to take care of her grandson three of four days a week, I can't see myself doing anything like that, my life is here and my work is full and intense.

Still, it feels good, it's a landmark and a passage. I respect that Emma and Jay will have their own ideas about parenting, as they should, and I have no wish to tell them how to do it. And I don't think I know how anybody else should do it, I could barely figure it out myself.

Nor, I am sure, are they expecting or wanting to me to offer much direction. We live very different lives, and that is the nature of the world. For all that, I think there is often a pure love when it comes to grandparenting, I think no one on the earth loved me more than my grandmother, and she meant the world to me. She saved my life.

I don't know what my grandchild will want or expect of me, but whatever it is, I hope to do as well as my grandmother did. August is not far away. I am happy for Em, she will be a great mom.

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