July 3, 2008 Fire season begins with smoke in the air, smudging the crystal clear blue with a gritty yellow and gray glaze. The locals tell us that the fire is on the reservation and it started with a lightning strike last night. We travel on the back roads through rolling wheat fields. We stop to water our dog at an old but still active Grange Hall in the minute town of Farmer, Washington. We notice the smoke on the horizon and we follow it steadily for miles. In the lower picture you can see a small cluster of erratics; stones that dropped out of glaciers long ago.
We arrive back in time in the tiny town of Bridgeport to visit the uncles and the aunts and the cousins and the second cousins. We hear news of the impending death of one of us. Todo Brown married my father’s brother Russ. He died tragically young in a logging accident years ago. But his wife Todo remained with us, unmarried and very much part of the family. I saw her at Cherie’s wedding lat summer, looking very thin, very gaunt. I wondered. And now I hear news that she may not make it the summer. Lung cancer, brain cancer. It was the cigarettes I suppose. But she has always been here with us. How can people just die?
Our family is growing faster than it is shrinking. But for me- the core family of my life is shrinking, almost one a year lately. We get our turn on this planet. What a crazy twist in our lives that we still cannot predict our given time. Even the best science and technology is not able to help us out with that the biggest mystery of them all.
This is a strange little watercolor to indulge my fascination with roses and my barely controlled need to acquire far too many of the time consuming and high maintenance flowers. ” Oh, but they give back so much! They are so worth the investment!” I say to convince myself that 24 rose bushes are not quite enough. Buying two more cannot qualify me as obsessive.
Lets just say that I have enough time up to my elbows in roses that my sister and brother-in-law gave me long white deerskin rose gloves to keep the thorns at bay. I thought they were kind of surreal so I painted them disembodied, dancing through the rose bushes with a mind of their own.
Mayan Calendar With Panther and Bees started out as a quick mandala study, intended for a birthday card for my sister, Sandy. I visited Tulum, Mexico this April and I became fascinated with the Mayan culture, especially the current Mayan society and how it relates strongly to the past. In spite of this sense of continuity with the past, the Mayan culture is very much of this time. They practice sustainable hospitality, sustainable energy, recycling – they are the essence of the practical application of the green movement.
It is often small moments that define my impression of an area, of a people. One afternoon I saw massive sculptures of bees decorating the entries of the ruins at Tulum. The same day we talked to people who practice bee keeping to this day and see themselves as part of a long unbroken line of Mayan peasants or farmers who kept bees since the beginning of time. I purchased bee salve for arthritis in my hands, with assurances that ancient Mayan medicine has special cures for any disease.